[LON-CAPA-dev] Draft of 2.10.0 Release Notes
Wed, 01 Jun 2011 17:16:25 -0400
Draft of release notes for 2.10.0 (final).
LON-CAPA Technical Director
New Version 2.10.0 Released
This new version contains some changes in default colors and changes
in CSS styles. It is recommended that users logging into LON-CAPA 2.10.0
with a web browser which they have used recently to log-in to an
earlier version of LON-CAPA, use a shift refresh after login and role
selection to force reload of any cached css files.
In addition, if a Domain Coordinator has previously configured the
domain with background colors or font colors which are different from
the defaults, she/he should select a Domain Coordinator role,
Author role, Course Coordinator role and Student role in turn to confirm
that text and background color choices for the different contexts provide
sufficient contrast. There have been one or two changes in the way color
settings are used in the new interface, as well as in the default color
Changes from 2.9.1
General User Interface
- User interface styles, colors and fonts are now more uniform
- A consistent style is used for menus and sub-menus.
- Breadcrumb trails are more ubiquitous.
- The use of icons is now more common, and in many cases existing
icons have been replaced with new ones which depict functionality
- A compact display is used for common elements on each page.
In order, from the top:
- A primary menu which contains links to features which are
independent of the current role. This includes a "Messages"
link which will change to "New Messages" if new LON-CAPA messages
have been received.
- A secondary menu containing links to features specific to the
- A breadcrumb trail which encapsulates the context of the
current page in the hierarchy of menus and sub-menus.
In the case of resources in a course, the right hand side
of the breadcrumb bar contains icons for common utilities
(feedback, printout generation etc.).
- A functions list which contains specific functions for the
current page available for the current role.
- Where colors are used to highlight things, colors used are
subtler and deployed more sparingly within a page.
- Text Areas which support a Rich Text (or WYSIWYG) Editor, now
include a link for each instance to toggle the editor on/off
for that instance alone.
- Rich Text Editor updated to CKEditor 3.
- Updated design for "templated pages: "About Me", Simple Page,
Syllabus, standalone Discussion Board.
- Redesigned log-in page.
- LON-CAPA standard display (tables with alternating light/darker
gray tables) used in Construction Space and Portfolio.
- "Global" WYSIWYG preference in "Set my user preferences" and
single link on pages containing textareas eliminated.
(Replaced with link to toggle for each textarea).
- Users with math display set to mimetex will no longer be
affected by "quoted execution" errors which prevent vertical
alignment of inline math expressions on Apache/SSL servers.
- New Problem Templates:
- Custom Response using Computer Algebra System and Hints
- External Response
- Drop Box
- Input-Dependent Problems:
- Using Learner Answer in Multipart Numerical Problem,
- Using Learner Formula in Graph with Formula Response
- Using Learner Formula in Graph with Math Response
- Randomized Question Stem Radio Button Response
- Upload of HTML files with references to embedded objects etc.
- More comprehensive feedback on reference detection.
- Reference updates in HTML file for changed paths originally
only available for upload of HTML file in course,
now available for uploads in all contexts.
- Consistent set of colors used in colorful editor.
- Colorful editor provides insert item to wrap content within a
- Optionresponse problems:
- Can suppress display of checkbox choices.
- Display of bullet suppressed if there is only one foil.
- Improvements in printouts for problems with a part which
contains multiple responses.
- Externalresponse supports award of partial credit for
submissions graded partially correct by external grader.
- Portfolio: No upload to portfolio if the uploaded file is zero
bytes in size.
- Dropbox: Improved student interface for managing files submitted
to dropbox over multiple tries.
- Display of submitted files for dropbox and Bridge Task
includes warning about consequences of file deletion.
- Clarification on how to disassociate previously submitted
files for dropbox or Bridge Task assessment items.
- Course Catalog will display the end date for self-enrollment
both before and during availability of self-enrollment.
- Fonts and icons used for the Course Contents screen are more
compact. Icons replace the "Select Action" dropdown list.
- Can choose to overwrite when uploading a file to the portfolio
if a file with the same name already exists in the same path
(unless the file is locked).
- If the portfolio file is locked for an assignment with access
controlled by a slot which is currently open for the user,
overwrite is still possible.
- If the "Course roster" is included within a course, forward and
backward arrows are now included to permit navigation to adjacent
- For assignments for which collaborators can be specified:
collaborators can be modified when new submissions are made.
- Files submitted to dropbox items directly from the student's
desktop instead of by selecting from the portfolio are now also
stored in the student's portfolio (thereby allowing return of
a version with instructor comments to the student).
- Transactions which were to hide/unhide or delete posts do not
contribute to the count of visible postings.
- New set of "smilies"/emoticons. Smilies that could conflict
with URLs and mathematical expressions disallowed.
- Subject for notification e-mail uses subject line from
corresponding LON-CAPA message, with [LON-CAPA] prepended.
- Information about specific LON-CAPA version required is
available in Course Configuration (General Settings) -
determined by content, and parameters in use (e.g. questiontypes).
- Course Editor
- A tabbed interface separates editing of items in the main
course contents area from editing of items in the (optional)
supplemental documents area.
- Editor Functionality is separated into: Import Documents,
Published Resources, Special Documents and Tools. These items
are now below the listing of resources in the current folder,
and buttons have been replaced with icons/links.
- Parameter Manager
- Overview/Table Mode: List of selectable Folders includes
indentation to show course hierarchy of folders and sub-folders;
"Parameters to View" is a list which can be expanded or collapsed.
- Modify Mode: Radio buttons replace free form textbox to assist
in assignment of appropriate value for "Question Type".
- Browsing LON-CAPA shared repository: Style and icons consistent
with listing of files in Course Contents display for a course.
- For roles in Courses/Communities requiring a specific minimum
LON-CAPA version, in cases where the server hosting the session
is not running a sufficiently recent version:
(a) If server hosting the session is running 2.10 or later, a
link is provided for the role on roles/courses screen to switch
to a server in the user's domain or to a server in the course's
domain (if any have required version).
(b) For servers hosting sessions running 2.9 or earlier, only roles
which can be run on the version on the server hosting the session
- New problem modes (i.e., "questiontypes")
- Anonymous survey (submission information not tied to
identifiable user information).
- Anonymous survey with credit for submission
- Survey with credit for submission
- New Randomization after N tries (N set as a parameter; default = 1).
- Simple Problem Type (added directly to a course via Course
Editor) now includes a "simple numerical" type.
- Time intervals are supported for resources for which access is
- For case sensitive and case insensitive stringresponse problems,
the computer's answer is available in the detailed submission display
for each submission.
- Groups: the link to the group homepage supports cases where the
group homepage has an encrypted url.
- Course Requests: now allow users without existing accounts to be
included in course creation requests, as long as a default
type has been set for the domain.
- Course Requests: message is sent to the requestor of a course when
a request for an official course, queued pending validation of
instructor of record, is validated and created.
- Slots: for slots schedulable by student slot can set slot to
send message(s) when student reserves slot or releases reservation.
Domain Coordination/Domain Settings
- Domain Coordinators can control:
(a) where their users may have sessions hosted (by internet
domain and/or LON-CAPA version).
(b) which other domains may have user sessions hosted on
servers in the domain.
- Domain configuration to set a portal or default URL, e.g., a
loadbalancer server or a specific alias on a multidomain server.
- Linked select boxes in course catalog can support names of
categories for components of the institutional codes used for
official courses which differ from the standard names: Year,
Semester, Department, Number.
- Number of responders to anonymous survey items required before
displaying anonymized submission data can be set for domain.
- A script is available for running from the command line
(as root) to expire DC roles for domains/users on server.
- Co-ownership information is available when a customized
localenroll.pm module negotiates access to classlist data
for an official course from an institutional data source.
- No longer stop and start firewall rules for existing hosts when
nightly loncron connection check is made for new servers in the cluster.
- LON-CAPA log files contain less superfluous logging (e.g., for
non-existent metadata files).
- LON-CAPA's Apache configuration file includes a directive for
cacheable files which allows a user's browser to use the disk cache
for such files served via SSL.
- Latency eliminated when retrieving data from other servers
where an existing connection in the LON-CAPA network
had been silently dropped (e.g., by an intermediate router).
- An Apache config file is available to rewrite external
requests for http:// to https:// for servers running SSL.
The default is for no rewrites.
- Breadcrumbs added to "Preparing Printout" and "Download PDF" pages.
- New translations and improvements for German interface.
- Default to English for any untranslated phrases in simplified
- Need for pre-2.10 "Text-based Interface Login" and
"Accessibility Options" items eliminated by improving accessibility
of regular pages (e.g., alt tags standard).
- Course Coordination Manual updated to include new icons and discussion
of redesigned general user interface.
- Domain Coordination Manual expanded to include entries about
access to Server Status pages, course defaults, and hosting of
- Domain Coordination Manual has information on SSL with Apache,
and use of SSL for internal communication between LON-CAPA servers.
To use this release you need to have version 1-20 of LONCAPA-prerequisites
If you are running SuSE/SLES you will need to modify:
in APACHE_MODULES, if it is not already included.
You can do this using a text editor, or you can download the
installation tarfile for your SLES/SuSE version from:
http://install.loncapa.org/versions/suse and then replace the existing
/etc/sysconfig/apache2 with the sysconfig_apache2 included in
the installation directory extracted by untarring the slesN_install.tar or
suseN.M_install.tar tarfile, appropriate for your distro.
If your Apache web server has been configured to use SSL, and you have
included rewrite rules to rewrite all requests to http://<yourserver>/
to https://<yourserver>/ you may need to modify your rewrite rule to
allow internal HEAD requests to /cgi-bin/mimetex.cgi to be served
http://, in order to support vertical alignment of mimetex images
(one of the options for rendering Math content).
Starting with LON-CAPA 2.10, a config file containing rewrite
rules -- loncapa_rewrite.conf -- will be added to /etc/httpd/conf
(CentOS, Red Hat, Scientific Linux, Fedora) or /etc/apache2 (SuSE, SLES,
Ubuntu, Debian). By default, rewrites are set to off (using
RewriteEngine off). If you already have you own rewrite rules in place
you shouldeither transfer them to loncapa_rewrite.conf, after completing
the LON-CAPA update, or leave your existing file in place and comment out
the entries in loncapa_rewrite.conf. Otherwise, if you are using
SSL with Apache, and would like requests to http://<yourserver>/
to be rewritten to https://<yourserver>/, you should copy
rewrites/loncapa_rewrite_on.conf to loncapa_rewrite.conf to enable this.
The rules included in that config file do not rewrite internal
requests (i.e., from 127.0.0.1) to http://, so vertical alignment
of mimetex images is supported.
Note: this is only needed if you are using SSL (i.e., requests to
https://<yourserver>/ are supported) and you want to rewrite external
requests to http://<yourserver>/ to always use https://<yourserver>/
Note about /home/httpd/lib/perl/localenroll.pm
When you use UPDATE to update an existing LON-CAPA installation to a newer
version, the customizable localenroll.pm file is not overwritten. This
is the file which must be customized to support integration of LON-CAPA
with institutional data sources (e.g., for automated update of course
rosters or user information). Whenever new routines are included in
localenroll.pm these will appear in localenroll-std.pm, which is updated
when a new version is installed.
If you have previously customized localenroll.pm it is recommended that
you compare the contents of localenroll.pm and localenroll-std.pm after
an update to see if there are new subroutines (which exist as stubs in
localenroll-std.pm) which can be copied to your custom localenroll.pm
and later customized, should you wish to use that functionality. Recent
changes are addition of: crsreq_checks(), validate_crsreq(),
validate_instcode(), and possible_instcodes() in LON-CAPA 2.9 to support
automatic processing of requests for official courses. Another change
(2.10) is to new_course() to support LON-CAPA access to institutional
classlist data for a particular course, based on co-ownership
(previously only ownership was considered).
To install this update:
1) You will need to be running CentOS 5, RHEL (AS|ES) 4, 5 or 6,
Scientific Linux 5 or 6, SLES 9, 10 or 11, Fedora 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 or 15
SuSE 11.1, 11.2, 11.3 or 11.4, Ubuntu LTS 8 or 10, or Debian 5 or 6.
(Fedora Core 5, 6, 7, 8, & 9, and SuSE 10.1, 10.2 & 10.3 should
continue to work, but are deprecated.)
You will need to be root to use the commands listed at steps 2 to 8 below.
On Ubuntu LTS servers either prepend sudo for each command, or use sudo -i.
2) Update LONCAPA-prerequisites to 1-20.
Note: for Debian/Ubuntu the corresponding package is loncapa-prerequisites.
(b) RedHat Enterprise 4
up2date -u LONCAPA-prerequisites
(c) Red Hat 5/6, Centos 5, Scientific Linux 5/6
Use yast-> Installation Source to refresh the LON-CAPA repository
If refresh is unsuccessful, an alternative is to delete the repository,
and then add it again to the list of repos you use.
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.
(i) CentOS/RHEL/Scientific Linux/Fedora/SLES/SuSE
rpm -q LONCAPA-prerequisites
(where X is a distro identifier e.g., centos5.lc)
sudo dpkg -l loncapa-prerequisites
ii loncapa-prerequisites 1.20-X
(where X is a version number which depends on Ubuntu/Debian distro)
3) Download the new LON-CAPA tarball from
and untar it
tar xzvf loncapa-2.10.0.tar.gz
4) stop the LON-CAPA system services
5) stop the webserver:
SuSE 11.X/SLES 10,SLES 11, Debian/Ubuntu:
6) Run the UPDATE script as root
7) restart the LON-CAPA system services
8) restart the webserver:
SuSE 11.X/SLES 10,11, Debian/Ubuntu:
9) It is also recommended that loncron is run
(as the www user) after installation/update is complete.
This will write to files in /home/httpd/lonTabs used to
store information about LON-CAPA versions on other servers in
the cluster to which the server belongs. It may take some
minutes to complete as the script will contact other servers
in the LON-CAPA network sequentially.
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
LON-CAPA Academic Consortium