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inaccessible files in course contents and portfolios because of previously supported "bad" characters no longer being supported (Q2.2017)

Question asked by bert.coenen on Oct 9, 2017

Dear community,

We’ve upgraded to Q2.2017 (from April 2014) about two months ago and have been pretty much swamped with file- or folder-name related issues ever since.

Has anyone else run into one or more of the following issues?

Most of these issues can not be created by a user because uploading or renaming files and folders containing bad characters is blocked by recent versions of Blackboard, but apparently wasn’t blocked in the past.


  • Files and folders that have a “+” in their name have no contextual menu in xythos (content collection) pages
  • Folders that have a “+” in their name can not be opened
  • Files and folders that have “#” or “&” in their name: when performing xythos operations (copy, set permissions, edit settings, …) an error is thrown ("An error occurred while generating the menu.")
  • Folders with name ending in “ “ (space) can not be opened (no error is thrown, user gets stuck in a loop)
  • Links in course contents to files or folders break:
    • A link to a folder with “+” in its name can not be opened by students
    • Links to files in a folder with name ending in “..” can not be opened by students
  • Portfolios are even more badly affected
    • Artifacts containing links to “local” files (uploaded before our upgrade, not yet stored in xythos, but on the server’s file system) containing the following characters (*\#<>;?:) break one of the following
      • Just the link to the file in question
      • Or the entire artifact
      • Or even the entire portfolio
  • Something appears to be quite wrong when attaching local files to a content item
    • Upon creation of the item, attached local files are stored in the course’s content collection-folder
    • Upon edit of an item a newly attached local file is NOT stored in the course’s content collection-folder, but where it used to be stored ages ago, as a “local” file on the server’s file system (compare the links to the files, they are very different, one is of the pid/rid/xid kind, the other refers to an “embedded”-folder).


This is not an exhaustive overview of the issues we’ve run into (the world is filled with bad characters!), there are -definitely, probably and possibly- others which we haven’t properly diagnosed yet…

Is this happening on your systems as well?

If so, have you tried anything to resolve these issues yourselves?

Or have you developed any good strategies to deal with them?