[LON-CAPA-dev] Draft of Release Notes for 2.9.0
Tue, 30 Mar 2010 21:49:44 -0400
Draft release notes for the forthcoming LON-CAPA 2.9.
LON-CAPA Technical Director
New Version 2.9.0 Released
Changes from 2.8.2:
extensions) can be edited.
- Assistant Co-authors can browse directories in the repository of
published resources belonging to author(s) to whom they are assigned
as assistant co-author.
- The "Edit Math" button (which launches a pop-up Math expression
editor) is available when editing HTML files.
- Adaptive hints are available for reactionresponse and organicresponse types.
- The R statistics package can be used in place of maxima as a
Computer Algebra system (CAS) in mathresponse and formularesponse
problems. R can also be used to generate data sets in problems by
using calls to appropriate cas routines within a script block. Example
templates are provided.
- Custom Response problems can award partial credit for problems
containing multiple answers.
- In dynamic plots (GNUplot) - x and y axis zero lines can be
displayed as regular lines, thick lines, or as dotted lines.
- Checkbox attribute for simple two-option optionresponse type allows
checkboxes to be used instead of two item select box (e.g., for
True/False). See: SimpleTrueFalse problem template.
- Information about resources for which access is controlled by
reservation (i.e, slots) is displayed on the "Table of Contents" page
(renamed from "Navigate Contents").
- Students within a course can access a "Manage Reservations" utility
from the Main Menu. This may be used to view and change reservations,
and also display a log of reservation transactions.
- When a user initiates the reset password process for an internally
authenticated account, the e-mail address entered in the web form can
now be any of: permanent email, critical notification email or regular
- Courses with access start dates which were in the future when the
student logged in will become selectable from the courses screen, once
the start date has been reached, without the need for logout/login.
- Course Configuration for "Grading" includes a mode to not show total
parts when a student displays grades.
- When rendering discussion posts and other feedback for the web, new
lines will no longer be automatically converted to <br /> tags if HTML
block elements are detected (suggesting the author had used HTML
originally during composition).
- A "Course/Community requests" icon is included in the "My Roles" or
"My Courses" category if the user has rights to create courses or
communities in their home domain, and/or in another domain.
- Course Configuration (previously "Set Course Environment") has been
moved to the top level ("Main Menu") and divided into separate
sections, with permitted user input constrained by radio buttons,
select boxes, checkboxes etc., in place of unrestricted entry via
- The Course Owner can assign the Course Coordinator role in a course
to other users.
- The Course Owner can declare other Course Coordinators as
"Co-owners", who can choose to accept or deny co-ownership assignment.
(Your institution may use co-ownership to permit access to
institutional course rosters by the automated enrollment process.
Co-owners are also listed in the Course/Community Catalog, and can be
used as a filter when searching for courses.
- Alternative titles may be specified for standard role titles (e.g.,
Teaching Assistant etc.) in a course.
- HTML documents uploaded directly to a course can be edited by a
- The template displayed when creating custom roles depends on course
type (Course or Community).
- Coordinators can require all self-enrollment requests to be
approved, and can specify which Coordinators should be notified when a
self-enrollment request needs approval.
- Coordinators can set an enrollment limit, which when reached will
- A link to the course request page is displayed after log-in if a
user has no active roles, and has rights to request creation of
- Slot reservation transactions are logged and
Coordinators/Instructors can view the history of reservation changes
for a particular slot from the "History" link in the slots table.
- "External" documents which may be included in a course (and display
a web page from an external site in a frameset within LON-CAPA) are
now more robust (e.g., trailing & trimmed from query string etc.).
- Coordinators/Instructors are warned if there is a version
discrepancy if the same resource is used more than once in a course,
and the versions are different.
- When uploading a file to a course, a check to determine if it is an
HTML file will occur if the uploader had checked the option to look
for embedded objects.
- Problems including randomlists are now supported for Bubblesheet
- When grading Bridge Tasks an additional check is made for
consistency of username, domain and resource identifier between the
grading key and the data to be submitted.
- The Bubblesheet Data Uploader's upload screen now includes a link to
the syllabus for the course selected to receive the data file. A
comparison is made between the student populations in the course
roster and in the bubblesheet data (based on student/employee ID), to
detect uploads to the wrong course.
- For Bubblesheet Data Uploaders picking a destination course, the
institutional code textbox is replaced with linked select boxes (e.g.,
year, semester, department, number), as used in Course Catalog (if
configured in the domain). The course owner/co-owner" row is replaced
with "Course personnel includes: " row which can be used to search for
courses where a specified username:domain has active non-student role.
Domain Coordination/Domain Settings
- Firewall configuration for traffic between LON-CAPA servers now
restricts port access to IPs for servers currently in the LON-CAPA
cluster. The nightly cron process which checks LON-CAPA connections
will update the firewall for any changes in membership of the cluster.
- Display of the log-in page for specific servers in a domain can be
replaced by automatic redirection to a different server (e.g., to a
LON-CAPA load balancer server, used solely for authentication and
- Domain Coordinators can modify institutional status for users in
- A new configuration is available to set which users may request creation of:
(a) official courses, (b) unofficial courses, or (c) communities.
- Communities are similar to courses except the Coordinator may only
browse areas of the shared LON-CAPA repository for which he/she has an
author or co-author role.
- Course/Community requests may be set to be processed, automatically,
queued for approval by a Domain Coordinator, or (for official courses)
validated against the institutional instructor of record.
- Domain Coordinators can permit course requests to be made by users
from other domains, on a user-by-user basis.
- A Domain Coordinator can set which institutional affiliations (e.g.,
Faculty, Staff etc.) may create his/her own account (applies to
institutional login/SSO only).
- The course creation menu includes additional links: (a) display
course requests queued, pending approval by a Domain Coordinator; (b)
display requests for official courses queued pending institutional
validation; (c) display a log of course creation history.
- The "Edit this resource" link is displayed to a Domain Coordinator
in course context, if the domain of the resource author is the domain
of the current role.
- The aggregate database of courses in a domain used when searching
for a course (e.g., when selecting an ad hoc role, choosing a course
to clone etc.) is rebuilt nightly by cron from permanent data stored
in each course's environment.db file.
- Domain Coordinators may filter by time elapsed since course creation
when using the course picker (e.g., to select an ad hoc role, assign a
Course Coordinator role etc.).
- A domain may be configured to automatically assign co-ownership
status when a Course Coordinator role becomes active in an official
course, if the Coordinator is official course personnel (requires
customization of localenroll.pm).
- Domain Coordinators may set empty fields for individual users for
personal information fields (i.e., name, permanent e-mail address)
which currently include a value.
- Domain Coordinators may allow users to choose (via a User
Preference) to prevent updates to information fields by a nightly
automated update which synchronizes LON-CAPA with institutional
- Nightly removal of stale files in /home/httpd/perl/tmp will descend into
sub-directories and also remove stale files from them.
- Printouts of PDF files within a folder (both in a course and in
Construction Space) can be generated.
- The default font size in printouts can be set by Course Coordinators and
- Composite pages (.page) can be printed in Construction Space and
also printed with answers.
- Composite pages (.page) containing numerical problems can be printed
when set to exam mode.
- Composite pages (.page) can be printed for selected students.
- The syllabus can be printed when generating printouts of resources
for selected students.
- Printing of tables has been standardized to use the perl
- New translations and improvements are provided for both the German
- UTF-8 encoding is used for all browsers (including Internet Explorer).
- The time zone of the local server is cached, and translations of
phrases are also cached to improve performance.
- An alt attribute (which includes the raw TeX) is supplied for use by
screen readers when MimeTex images are used to render math expressions.
- Raw mode ((will output raw TeX) is available as an additional option
for rendering math expressions.
- More interface standardization using the following display elements:
- Data tables with rows of alternating light/dark background
colors, and a colored header.
- Two column data tables with a colored left column, and light
gray right column.
- Boxes with a thin border used to group similar items together.
- More muted colors, and standard data table used for Roles/Courses screen.
To use this release you need to have version 1-17 of LONCAPA-prerequisites
To install this update:
1) You will need to be running Fedora Core 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12,
RHEL (AS|ES) 4 or 5, SUSE 10.3, or 11.1, SLES 9, 10 or 11,
CentOS 5, or Scientific Linux 5. (Fedora Core 5, 6 & 7, and
SuSE 10.1 & 10.2 should continue to work but are deprecated.)
2) Update LONCAPA-prerequisites to 1-17.
(b) RedHat Enterprise 4
up2date -u LONCAPA-prerequisites
(c) Red Hat 5/Centos 5/Scientific Linux 5
Use yast-> Installation Source to refresh the LON-CAPA repository
Use yast->Software Management->Search to update LONCAPA-prerequisites
On all distributions, it is recommended that you check that you have
the correct versions of LONCAPA-prerequisites installed before proceeding.
rpm -q LONCAPA-prerequisites
(where X is a distro identifier e.g., fc9.lc)
3) Download the new LON-CAPA tarball from
and untar it
tar xzvf loncapa-2.9.0.tar.gz
4) stop the LON-CAPA system services
5) stop the webserver:
SUSE 10,3,11.1/SLES 10,SLES11:
6) Run the UPDATE script as root
7) restart the LON-CAPA system services
8) restart the webserver:
SUSE 10.3,11.1/SLES 10,11:
1) Many questions are answered at http://help.lon-capa.org
2) Defects reports, and enhancements requests can be entered at
3) Mailing lists can be joined and left at http://mail.lon-capa.org
MSU LON-CAPA group