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WebCT Vista PowerLinks SDK Overview. Sasan Salari VP, New Technology Services Head, Vista Developers Network [email protected] Overview. WebCT Vista 3.0 contains 4 major areas in the SDK: System Integration WebServices Deployable Components Reporting Interfaces. Overview.

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Webct vista powerlinks sdk overview

WebCT VistaPowerLinks SDK Overview

Sasan Salari

VP, New Technology Services

Head, Vista Developers Network

[email protected]


  • WebCT Vista 3.0 contains 4 major areas in the SDK:

    • System Integration

    • WebServices

    • Deployable Components

    • Reporting Interfaces


  • Each interface offers access to slightly different parts of the Vista Core Framework


  • Each interface also provides a variety of sub-services and ways to get at those services

System integration
System Integration

  • Focuses on enterprise data integration & bulk transactions

  • e.g.:

    • Courses, Sections, Groups

    • Users and Enrolments

    • Bulk file uploads

System integration1
System Integration

  • Broken into 3 layers

    • Transport Layer

    • Translation Layer

    • Core Layer

  • Each layer processes request, then hands it to the next layer

System integration2
System Integration

  • Transport Layer:

    • 3 built-in Adaptors

      • WebAPI

      • Command Line Interface

      • LDIS (SunGard SCT)

    • Option to write your own

System integration3
System Integration

  • Translation Layer:

    • 3 built-in Adaptors

      • IMS

      • LDIS (SunGard SCT)

      • Standard

    • Option to write your own

System integration4
System Integration

  • Core Layer

    • Processes final request and hands actions off to individual Vista services


  • Focus on “user level” transactions

  • Handy for external manipulation/retrieval of user information or course data


  • Commands are processed by the same services that process UI events

  • Proper permissions apply

    • e.g.: Student cannot edit Quiz


  • Supported Interfaces in Vista 3:

    • Context

    • Calendar

    • Gradebook

    • Mail

    • File Manager

    • Quiz & Question

Access options

Direct WSDL in your favorite language

.NET DLL Client

Java SDK Client

Access Options

3 ways to get at WebServices SDK

Outside World


Vista WebServices

Vista Gradebook

Vista Mail Service

Context webservice
Context WebService

  • Before you do anything, you have to log in. This is the primary reason for the Context WebService’s existence

  • Also provides access to enrollment information

Context webservice1
Context WebService

  • Functions:

    • Log a user in, and receive a session object (must be used in all other WS calls)

    • Get a list of Learning Contexts a user is enrolled in, and what roles the user has in those

    • Get ID of template associated with LC

Context webservice2
Context WebService

  • login method can also use Single Sign-On for password-less authentication

  • Supporting methods for retrieving section instructor (e.g. for submitting grades)

Calendar webservice
Calendar WebService

  • Gives access to Vista Calendar tool

  • Ideal for synchronizing external calendars, scheduling applications & portal channels

  • Functions:

    • Support for full Create, Read, Update, Delete of calendar entries

    • Bulk call for retrieving all entries for a user

Gradebook webservice
Gradebook WebService

  • Great for assignment or testing integration, portals

  • Functions:

    • Create, read, update, delete for columns, values, types, meta-data, attributes (25 methods in total)

    • Common gotcha: students can not set their own grades; only instructors can do this

Mail webservice
Mail WebService

  • Good for campus mail integration, portals, implementing outside email in Vista

  • Functions:

    • Create, read, update, delete for messages, mailboxes (per course), marking mail read/unread

    • Support for bulk transactions, attachments

File manager webservice
File Manager WebService

  • Provides access to Vista file system

  • Good for managing content, portals, client integration

  • Functions:

    • Create, read, update, delete for files, folders, plus duplicate, rename, upload

    • Editable permissions (read/write)

Assessment webservice
Assessment WebService

  • Access to Vista Quiz/Question engine based on IMS QTI (Question and Test Interoperability)

  • Functions:

    • Create, read, update, delete for questions, quizzes

    • All via the IMS QTI format (http://www.imsproject.org)


  • All interfaces contain methods for determining version compatibility

  • Compatibility guaranteed for at least two major Vista revisions


Vista 4.0

Vista 5.0




  • Full Web Services Javadoc included in SDK Client Distribution

  • SDK Programmer’s Guide covers best-practices and higher-level documentation


  • Example Applications:

    • Remote mail client

    • Portal integration

    • Remote quiz delivery

    • File uploader

Deployable Components

  • Added in Vista 2.1

  • Focused on:

    • Authentication of users into/from Vista

    • Delivering content and applications to Vista frameset

Deployable components
Deployable Components

Deployable Components

  • Authentication Modules (AuthModules for short) enable SSO into Vista

  • Format of SSO is up to you; Vista only supplies the framework

  • Great for Portals

Deployable Components

  • Proxy Tools do the opposite, allowing users to be brought from Vista to another application

  • They allow an AuthModule to appear in the UI just like any other tool (Quiz, Mail, etc.)

Deployable components1
Deployable Components

Deployable Components

  • In Vista 2.1, an XML file was used to create Proxy Tools. Vista 3.0 introduced a very nice, and easy to use UI

Deployable components2
Deployable Components

Deployable Components


  • WebCT contains vast amounts of data

  • Prior to WebCT Vista, this data was stored in a distributed, flat file database

  • This made correlation and detailed data analysis almost impossible


  • WebCT Vista introduced an SQL database server

  • With that, detailed analysis became possible, but there was still a problem


  • The Vista data schema is not exactly intuitive

  • The DB is designed for functionality and performance, not for data extraction

  • Relevant information can be spread out among many, many tables

  • The table schema can change from version to version


  • The Vista Reporting Interfaces solve these problems by abstracting away from direct DB access

  • The result is a set of “safe” database views containing the most relevant data all in one place

Reporting examples
Reporting: Examples

Vista Enrollment by Department

Reporting examples1
Reporting: Examples

Vista Tool Usage by Department

Reporting examples2
Reporting: Examples

Average Final Grade vs Vista Sessions

Developer support
Developer Support

  • Want to build a Community around Vista PowerLinks

  • But How?

  • Many different ways…

Vista developers network
Vista Developers Network

  • Members from Institutional and Commercial partners

  • Want to learn more about, or get help with, developing Vista PowerLinks

  • Contribute their work to the community

  • Active monitoring and participation by WebCT staff

New site launched
New Site Launched

As of July 12th, 2004:


Devnet features

  • Links to WebCT Documentation and Resources

  • Contribution Area to Share PowerLinks and Code

  • How-To area where users can add their own tips and tricks

Devnet features1
DevNet Features

  • Frequently Asked Questions

  • Discussion Forums

  • List of known issues and their workarounds and resolution targets

  • + much more…

Sample contributions
Sample Contributions

  • 12 contributions in the past 2 months

  • Examples:

    • RSS Module

    • Shibboleth and CAS Authentication

    • Simple quiz creation from MS Word Template

    • Utilities for SIS IMS imports

    • E-mail checker

  • Many currently under development

Thank you
Thank you


[email protected]