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Blackboard Learn Developers

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Recently we had a report that an application running on a partner's server was no longer able to send requests to Blackboard's Learn servers. They were SOAP requests - which is being deprecated - but that wasn't the issue. 

 

We've moved our servers to TLSv1.1/1.2. We're also using a modern set of ciphers. Make certain you're using both and you'll be able to connect!

 

Here's one article that describes a symptom and solution for those using Microsoft .Net libraries.

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/35621686/authentication-failed-because-the-remote-party-has-closed-the-transport-stream-e

 

Happy Coding!

I've been getting multiple inquires about finding log files in SaaS. As of 3600.0.0, Kibana is no longer available in SaaS. READ: https://blackboard.secure.force.com/btbb_articleview?id=kA41O000000Cgaa 

 

To stay up to date on changes like this to Learn - keep abreast of announcements on Behind the Blackboard. This video shows you how you can subscribe to receive an email  when a new release comes out with changes like this.

 

Here is our latest help documentation about getting the log files from SaaS:  https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Administrator/SaaS/System_Management/Logs

Here's how. Watch this video.

mkauffman

My LTI xxx Doesn't Work

Posted by mkauffman Apr 24, 2019


Solution -  Use our reference tool provider and compare what you are doing with what works. See: https://github.com/blackboard/BBDN-LTI-Tool-Provider-Node

 

Example:

I can't figure out why my JSON doesn't create deep links. Can you help?

 

Sure -watch this video.

The following works as shown in the video. Compare your JSON to the working code.

 

{"@context":"http://purl.imsglobal.org/ctx/lti/v1/ContentItem","@graph":[{"@type":"LtiLinkItem","mediaType":"application/vnd.ims.lti.v1.ltilink","icon":{"@id":"https://www.wpclipart.com/animals/F/ferret/.cache/Ferret_black-footed.jpg","width":50,"height":50},"title":"Week 1 reading LTI + Link<script>alert('help me');</script> <span style=\"font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold; font-size: 24px\">Hello</span>","text":"Read this section prior to your tutorial. <script>alert('help me');</script> <span style=\"font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold; font-size: 24px\">This should be large and bold</span>","custom":{"chapter":"12","section":"3","duedate":"2018-03-31T11:15:00+01:00"},"placementAdvice":{"displayHeight":100,"displayWidth":100,"windowTarget":"_blank"}},{"@type":"LtiLinkItem","mediaType":"application/vnd.ims.lti.v1.ltilink","icon":{"@id":"https://www.wpclipart.com/animals/F/frogs/.cache/Frog_eyeing_dinner.png","width":50,"height":50},"title":"Week 2 reading LTI","text":"Read this section prior to your tutorial.","custom":{"chapter":"12","section":"4","duedate":"2019-05-24T23:15:00+01:00"},"placementAdvice":{"displayHeight":100,"displayWidth":100,"presentationDocumentTarget":"iframe","windowTarget":"_blank"},"lineItem":{"@type":"LineItem","label":"Chapter 12 quiz","reportingMethod":"res:totalScore","assignedActivity":{"@id":"http://toolprovider.example.com/assessment/66400","activityId":"a-9334df-33"},"scoreConstraints":{"@type":"NumericLimits","normalMaximum":100,"extraCreditMaximum":10,"totalMaximum":110}}},{"@type":"ContentItem","@id":":item1","title":"Assignment: Assignment Specification","mediaType":"text/html","text":"Assignment: Assignment Specification","url":"https://www.py4e.com/install.php","placementAdvice":{"presentationDocumentTarget":"WINDOW","windowTarget":"_blank"},"icon":{"@id":"https://www.dr-chuck.net/tsugi-static/font-awesome-4.4.0/png/lock.png","width":64,"height":64}},{"@type":"ContentItem","url":"http://www.imageserver.com/path/image.jpg","mediaType":"image/jpg","title":"Title for my picture","placementAdvice":{"height":100,"width":100}}]}

 

Hope this helps. Cheers!

On April 10, 2019, Eric Preston, Blackboard's resident LTI expert, spoke with us in Technical Office Hours. He gave us an overview of LTI technology. Watch recording in Bb Collaborate.

 

On May 1, 2019, Eric followed up with another, deeper dive into coding an LTI integration. Watch the recording in Bb Collaborate or check out the slide deck attached.


There are still questions floating around about Ultra and Building Blocks. As an example, one developer writes the following. I'm writing this to answer these questions, and any others you might have.

 

We are currently using a building block for one of the tools that we make available to customers using Blackboard. It is our understanding that any tools using building blocks will not be made available if a customer has switched to the Ultra experience. We have a couple of questions:

  1. If the admin has enabled Ultra but an instructor has not enabled it at the course level, can the instructor still access our tool if the tool using a building block has already been made available to them?
  2. Will you still make tools using building blocks available to customers using the original experience, or can they only access a tool using a building block if it was made available to them before Ultra was released?

 

First, to help clarify around the first question, switching to the Ultra experience (navigation) does not remove the Original courses that exist in the system. Building Blocks that work in a SaaS environment will continue to work in these Original experience courses when the system is switched to the Ultra experience. If a new Original experience course is created, the Building Block functionality will be available in this new course.  However, the Building Block integrations will not be available for use in any Ultra Experience courses that are created. As we've discussed previously in this blog, only LTI & REST API integrations are are available in Ultra courses. Building Blocks can not surface content in an Ultra course.

 

Regarding the second question, yes clients can request that their support team install any building block they would like in their SaaS system, both Ultra navigation and Original experience, before or after the switch from Original Experience to Ultra.

Given that I've seen multiple questions about the IMS spec and Deep Linking 1.0, I'm writing this post.  Below, for reference from our test implementation of a Tool Provider GitHub - blackboard/BBDN-LTI-Tool-Provider-Node: A node.js LTI Tool Provider for testing LTI launches, Caliper, and Outc… is sample JSON that can serve as guide for what works. It places multiple links to the provider, the highlighted LineItem is the gradable item. Hope this helps!

 

{"@context":"http://purl.imsglobal.org/ctx/lti/v1/ContentItem","@graph":[{"@type":"LtiLinkItem","mediaType":"application/vnd.ims.lti.v1.ltilink","icon":{"@id":"https://www.wpclipart.com/animals/F/ferret/.cache/Ferret_black-footed.jpg","width":50,"height":50},"title":"Week 1 reading LTI + Link<script>alert('help me');</script> <span style=\"font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold; font-size: 24px\">Hello</span>","text":"Read this section prior to your tutorial. <script>alert('help me');</script> <span style=\"font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold; font-size: 24px\">This should be large and bold</span>","custom":{"chapter":"12","section":"3","duedate":"2018-03-31T11:15:00+01:00"},"placementAdvice":{"displayHeight":100,"displayWidth":100,"windowTarget":"_blank"}},{"@type":"LtiLinkItem","mediaType":"application/vnd.ims.lti.v1.ltilink","icon":{"@id":"https://www.wpclipart.com/animals/F/frogs/.cache/Frog_eyeing_dinner.png","width":50,"height":50},"title":"Week 2 reading LTI","text":"Read this section prior to your tutorial.","custom":{"chapter":"12","section":"4","duedate":"2019-05-24T23:15:00+01:00"},"placementAdvice":{"displayHeight":100,"displayWidth":100,"presentationDocumentTarget":"iframe","windowTarget":"_blank"},"lineItem":{"@type":"LineItem","label":"Chapter 12 quiz","reportingMethod":"res:totalScore","assignedActivity":{"@id":"http://toolprovider.example.com/assessment/66400","activityId":"a-9334df-33"},"scoreConstraints":{"@type":"NumericLimits","normalMaximum":100,"extraCreditMaximum":10,"totalMaximum":110}}},{"@type":"ContentItem","@id":":item1","title":"Assignment: Assignment Specification","mediaType":"text/html","text":"Assignment: Assignment Specification","url":"https://www.py4e.com/install.php","placementAdvice":{"presentationDocumentTarget":"WINDOW","windowTarget":"_blank"},"icon":{"@id":"https://www.dr-chuck.net/tsugi-static/font-awesome-4.4.0/png/lock.png","width":64,"height":64}},{"@type":"ContentItem","url":"http://www.imageserver.com/path/image.jpg","mediaType":"image/jpg","title":"Title for my picture","placementAdvice":{"height":100,"width":100}}]}

 

Next week, Wednesday April 24, at 1100 EDT you can ask our lead LTI Developer any questions you have about Deep Linking 1.0 and LTI 1.3/Advantage with Deep Linking 2.0 during our Technical Office Hours!

I'm writing this as we've had a few questions from developers come in who have never written a Web Application in their life. I hope this helps.

 

First, get up to speed on developing web applications. A Google search for 'web application in <your favorite language>' is a good start. Here's an example result that I found Quickstart: use Visual Studio to create a Python web app - Visual Studio | Microsoft Docs - Side comment - Visual Studio Code is one of the nicest tools I've seen come out of Microsoft.

 

Next, when you start coding your Web Application to integrate with Blackboard Learn, we recommend use of our REST APIs plus LTI. Use LTI as the starting point for the user of the Learn instance. Why? You get information about the user and any course context from the LTI launch parameters. Then, if necessary the LTI Tool Provider that you write can make additional REST API calls back into the Blackboard Learn instance that made the launch. You can also, for some cases just write a REST application that a user connects to Learn via Three-Legged OAuth and then makes REST calls on behalf of that user. Note that everything, your server/Tool Provider & Learn running in production will/should be using HTTPS via the standard port 443. See the following list of resources for getting started.

 

Here are several resources for developing REST Applications for Blackboard Learn:

We offer weekly technical office hours everyone is welcome to attend, free of charge: https://community.blackboard.com/groups/technical-office-hours (Link to join is on the upper right of the page.) LTI is an industry standard. Below are links to several resources:

 

I hope this helps you get started! Below is a high-level architecture diagram as an example. It's not meant to be all-inclusive, but does show one type of relationship between the User, the Blackboard Learn System, and your Application.

Blackboard-AppIntegrationArchitecture.jpg

mkauffman

Space Matters

Posted by mkauffman Mar 20, 2019

If you're having problems getting Let's Encrypt to work with your AMI, space matters.

 

Only this works - notice the space on either side of the :

ssldomain : <FQDN>

sslemail : <email address>

 

Not -

ssldomain: <FQDN>

sslemail: <email address>

 

Not -

ssldomain:<FQDN>

sslemail:<email address>

 

Reference https://community.blackboard.com/docs/DOC-4242-using-the-blackboard-learn-ami-for-rest-and-lti-development#jive_content_…

I just had a couple of great questions come in. After discussing with product management, here are the answers as of the date of this blog post. (Can you guess?)

 

Question: I want to move courses from one Bb instance to another, programmatically.  Assuming I have course exports from the source instance, is there an API to create courses in the target instance?

Answer: No

 

Question: Is there an API call to export an IMS Common Cartridge from a course.

Answer: No

 

More detail: Exporting and importing Common Cartridge data via REST APIs are not currently on the 2019 roadmap.

 

If you have a need for the above, head on over to https://community.blackboard.com/community/developers/learn/rest/pages/rest-api-ideas and rally your fellow developers around these. We may say "no", but not "never"*.

 

*Statements regarding our product development initiatives, including new products and future product upgrades, updates or enhancements represent our current intentions, but may be modified, delayed or abandoned without prior notice and there is no assurance that such offering, upgrades, updates or functionality will become available unless and until they have been made generally available to our customers.

 

See I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that. for the answer to the question about displaying B2 content in an Ultra course. You can probably guess by the title, no is the answer.

 

I'm writing this post because we've had an additional question surface as Blackboard Partners have started providing  LTI integrations in addition to their B2s. The question being, "When I convert my Original course to an Ultra course, will my B2 links automatically be converted to the LTI link for the Partner content?" The answer is "No*."

 

*Except for a few Partner Cloud partners who are working with our team on a "migration tool" for their content. More details to come later in 2019.

Next time you go to developer.blackboard.com to register an application, you'll notice some changes. Now you can also register a LTI tool. You register an LTI tool in pretty much the same way you register a REST application. For more information about registering an LTI tool, see Register as a Developer and Manage Your Applications with the Developer Portal.

 

We will be further adjusting the developer portal to make it more powerful and easier to use, so stay tuned for more updates.

View the WS logs via a Kibana query of:  path="/usr/local/blackboard/logs/ws/WS_common.log"

When you create a Learn REST integration you see these options - End User Access - Authorized To Act As User. What is the difference? If you've been working with REST in Learn for some time, you know that End User Access has been available since we enabled Three-Legged OAuth  (3LO) Checking End User Access allows the user associated with your REST application to act as the user who logs into your application using the Three-Legged OAuth process.

 

The new kid on the block, Authorized To Act As User, allows you, the Learn Admin to set the system to bypass the "Blackboard User Authorizes, User Authorizes" steps shown on the Three-Legged OAuth diagram. Why would you do that? There are cases, say if you're a copier company and your copier determines whether the user valid and authorized, the the REST Application running on the copier may need to bypass these steps, because the way some copier's "browsers" are built they can't follow the redirect.

 

And finally, for completeness, to answer the Partner who reached out about these final questions:

Also, once I specify a 'Learn user' in the REST API integration, are all REST calls performed as that user? 

When using OAuth2 (Basic), yes.

 

Is there anyway to choose at runtime which learn user to perform the REST calls as?

You can't do that. You can only use 3LO to have the user log in, then all REST calls are made as if they were made by that user.

 

Reference http://oauthbible.com/ . What we've called "Basic" is two-legged.


Had a case come in with several questions about the LTI Placement Options. There's certainly many options so I've written this Blog Post in Q& A format for future reference. The definitive documentation is on https://help.blackboard.com Cheers!

 

When creating a LTI TP, what does 'Allow Membership Service Access' mean?

- It allows one to enable names and roles for the integration. Q2 2018 (3400.0.0) included the LTI Names and Roles Provisioning service.

Reference: https://blackboard.secure.force.com/btbb_articleview?id=kA4390000008SoQ

See https://www.imsglobal.org/specs/ltimemv1p0 for the specification.

 

It appears that once an LTI TP & associated placement is created, and the placement 'Availability' is set to 'Yes', course builders and instructors can access the LTP TP placement _in any course_. Is there a way to make the LTI TP / Placements only show up [for instructors] for a specific course?

- No there is not.

 

What is the purpose of the LTI TP > Placement > Handle? Does it affect how the LTI 1.0 link is stored in Bb?

- It's a unique handle that you define for your placement. If there's a collision you'll be informed when submitting the form. The handle was useful for Java B2 developers and may be useful with our REST API implementation for managing LTI placements.

 

What's the difference between a Course Content Tool (no deep linking), and a Course Tool?

- A Course Content Tool can only be placed on a Course Content page. The tool can be used by a student to access TP content. A Course Tool is really meant for the instructor only. However, one can make it available to students, resulting in some very awkward behaviors. If you make a placement a Course Tool, and make it available to both instructors and students, then it will only be available to include as a Tool Link, and will not appear in the Course Tools section of a course. However, if the placement is available only to instructors, then it will appear in the Course Tools drop down. If you want the placement to appear both as in the 'Course Tools' drop-down list and as a Tool Link choice then only make it available to instructors.

 

How do you make the LTI TP 'Course Tool' placement display in the left-hand nav menu under 'Course Tools'?

- Use the near the upper right of the left-hand nav, select Tool Link, the Type drop-down will have the Course Tool placement you created.

 

Where does the LTI TP 'System Tool' placement get displayed?

- See https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Administrator/SaaS/Integrations/Learning_Tools_Interoperability
A System tool can be opened without accessing a course. In the Original experience, the tool appears in the Tools menu of the My Institution tab. In the Ultra experience, the tool appears in the Tools base navigation section.

You can also place a System Tool in an Institution Page module.

 

Where does the LTI TP 'Administrator Tool' placement get displayed?

- On the System Admin page, in the Tools and Utilities section.