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WebCT Vista PowerLinks SDK Overview. Sasan Salari VP, New Technology Services Head, Vista Developers Network salari@webct.com. 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


  • 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