Freelance Opportunity: Pitch in on a project for a fellow Community Member

A D2L client and Valence Community Member has a project in mind, but her team doesn’t have the bandwidth to tackle the project right now. Instead, she’s putting the call out to the wider Community to find a developer interested in a small, freelance opportunity.

From Storie Walsh:

We are looking to include a widget on our course homepages that provides profile information about the instructor.  Preliminary research reveals that this project should be possible using a Widget Remote Plugin, LTI and the Valence Learning Framework APIs. We’re looking for a developer who can gather detailed requirements, design and build using the available technologies, and provide us with a working solution to deploy in our environment. For more detail or to express your interest, please contact me via email.

Note: This post is being made on behalf of the requester and in the interest of facilitating member-to-member collaboration. D2L is in no way endorsing this opportunity or endorsing any respondents to this request.

What do you think?

Are you interested in seeing more of these sorts of opportunities shared in the Valence Developer Community? Share your opinions in the ValenceUsers forum.

Do you have a similar request that you’d like to share? Contact us via the Valence email account to share the details and we’ll look into sharing your opportunity.


New App Registration Process – Easy and Instant

Note: The functionality described in this post is available in 10.3 Service Pack 13 and the 10.4.3 release for Continuous Delivery clients. Contact your Account Manager or Technical Account Manager to schedule the appropriate update to your environment to gain access to this new functionality.

Introducing app registration via Manage Extensibility

We’re pleased to announce the latest improvements to the app registration process, which resolves a time-consuming bottleneck that has been on the minds of Development Community Members and D2L Staff.

The Manage Extensibility admin tool in the Learning Environment gives LMS Admins a view of the apps that are currently registered against the environment. The list includes Universal apps released by D2L or our Partners, and Limited apps registered by the institution or its integration providers. The Manage Extensibility tool makes it possible to selectively disable apps so that they can’t connect to your environment. With this update, the Manage Extensibility tool provides the ability to register new apps.

Screenshot of Manage Extensibility interface with new Register An App button

To register a new app, click the Register an App button to launch the Register an Application form. This form is a simplified version of the Register New Application form in Keytool. One notable exception is that you no longer have to specify your environment’s LMSID because this value is inherited based on the environment you’re logged in to.

Complete the required fields – including specifying the new Trusted URL value – and then click Register Application.

Screenshot of Register an Application form with application data.

The LE contacts the Keytool service, which registers the app and generates the App ID\Key pair. Once that process is complete, the LE presents a summary of the request and the generated App ID\Key values. Note that the Key value is obfuscated – this is to ensure that it is only shared on a need-to-know basis to protect the secrecy and security of this important value. Click Back to see the list of registered apps, including the one you just created.

Screenshot of details association with a registered app.

No approval process? No multi-day latency? No kidding?

Under the old app registration process, LMS Admins provide approval for app registration requests via an email-based approval process – even if they request the apps for themselves! The new app registration process puts app registration directly into the hands of LMS Admins, and auto-approves requests due to the trusted nature of the LMS Admin role. Now, Admins can build their own processes for taking in requests from institution staff and integration partners and instantly issue keys to them via a secure channel like an FTP site or encrypted email.

Note: The old app registration process will continue as normal until all clients transition to the new process by upgrading to the appropriate version of the LE. See the App Registration FAQs and Best Practices for more details.

Updating values on registered apps

The new app registration process also allows Admins to update metadata for Limited apps that are registered to their environment. This edit feature is especially handy if your Trusted URL changes.

Note: If you edit an app that was registered prior to August 28th, 2014 when the Trusted URL value was introduced, you’ll have the option to enter a valid Trusted URL.

From the Manage Extensibility screen, click the app name to reveal the complete app details and then click Edit. Update the values in any available field.

Note: Universal apps can only be updated by the requester via the Keytool.

Screenshot showing Edit Application Record form.

Deleting registered apps

Are you ready to retire an app? Did an App ID\Key pair get leaked? You can delete any Limited apps that are registered to your environment.

Caution: Once you confirm this action, it cannot be undone. If in doubt, Disable an app until you can confirm that it should be deleted.

What do you think?

Join the discussion in the ValenceUsers forum to share your impressions of the new app registration process.


Keytool Update – Now with Editable Trusted URLs

Last week, we introduced a new Keytool feature that is part of the phased roll-out of the Whitelisting feature of the Valence Authentication model.

So far, users have been able to navigate the new field and have entered Trusted URLs for app registration requests. But to make things even easier, we’ve made the Trusted URL field editable within Keytool. (Note: The original post has been updated to reflect this change.)

What does this change mean for me?

Now, when you register your app, you can put your expected Trusted URL in place or simply use a placeholder value if you’re unsure of the final endpoint for authentication of your app. So if this value changes, or you don’t know what it will be at the time you register your app, you can log back into Keytool to edit this value from the View Registered Apps screen.

Screenshot of Edit Trusted URL screen.

 

As always, you can let us know what you think of this feature change in the ValenceUsers forum.


Keytool Update: Whitelisting is here – Find out what it means to you

Authentication is one of the first tasks a developer needs to understand when using the Valence development platform. The workflow looks something like this:

  1. Register an app with Keytool to receive an active App ID\Key pair.
  2. Make the App ID and Key values available to your app, likely via one of the SDKs offered to streamline this process.
  3. Use that SDK to request User ID\Key pair from the LMS. The LMS sends the User ID and Signature back to the app via the x_a and x_b parameters, and uses the x_target parameter as the destination address.
  4. Use the user context to sign API calls made against the target LMS by your app.

Whitelisting adds an extra layer of security to the process:

  1. Register an app with Keytool – specifying your Trusted URL, which will be whitelisted to receive the User ID\Key pair on authentication - to receive an active App ID\Key pair.
  2. Make the App ID and Key values available to your app, likely via one of the SDKs offered to streamline this process.
  3. Use that SDK to request User ID\Key pair from the LMS. The LMS sends the User ID and Signature back to the app via the x_a and x_b parameters, and uses the x_target parameter as the destination address. Before sending back those tokens, the LMS will verify that the x_target value matches the Trusted URL specified. If they don’t match, the tokens will not be returned to your app.
  4. Use the user context to sign API calls made against the target LMS by your app.

Screenshot showing Trusted URL field.

Why are we adding this feature?

The whitelisting feature adds an extra layer of security to apps built to use Valence Learning Framework APIs. It ensures that User ID\Key pairs can only be sent to the pre-configured target location, and cannot be redirected to an unsecured location. The first stage in the rollout of that feature is adding the Trusted URL field to the Keytool app registration request form. The second stage of the rollout of the feature involves updating the Learning Environment to validate that the x_target passed by the app matches the Trusted URL. Learning Environment version 10.4.3 is expected to be the first version of the LMS to support this functionality.

How do I determine my Trusted URL?

The Trusted URL is simply a URL in your infrastructure that you will use to receive User ID\Key pairs. The x_target parameter that you append to your API calls must match this value in order for authentication to succeed. So you should have a good idea of where this endpoint will be at the time you register the app in Keytool, since the Trusted URL is now a required field in the app registration request form. Currently you cannot update this value once it’s specified, so be sure to verify the Trusted URL before registering your app. Edit: The Trusted URL field is now editable from within Keytool. So if this value changes, or you don’t know what it will be at the time you register your app, you can put a placeholder value in place and then log back into Keytool to edit this value from the View Registered Apps screen.

Screenshot of Edit Trusted URL screen.

Will my existing Apps continue to work without a Trusted URL?

For the time being, existing apps with an unspecified Trusted URL will continue to function. In the future, you will have an opportunity to update the Trusted URL value to enable whitelisting functionality.

Does this feature have anything to do with the new app self-registration process being previewed at FUSION?

At FUSION, D2L previewed new functionality being added to the Manage Extensibility administration tool in the Learning Environment. The new feature enables an LMS Administrator with sufficient privileges to register an app directly in the LMS, without needing to access Keytool or wait for the approval process. This feature also allows an administrator to edit some of the properties of the apps they have already registered – such as app name or version.

We are delivering the new whitelisting functionality along with this new self-registration functionality. Stay tuned for another blog post detailing that functionality and how it will impact the app registration process. (Edit: Updated screenshot below.)

Screenshot of app registration form in the LMS.

Known Issue with Google Authentication and Keytool

As part of this update to Keytool, we’ve implemented a newer version of the Google authentication mechanism to replace the deprecated version that was previously in place. The new version of the authentication mechanism may cause the list of Application Records to appear empty when you click the View Registered Applications link. All registered apps continue to work and are stored in the database securely.

If your list appears empty when it shouldn’t, contact us via email and provide the following details:

  • The email address that you use to log in to Keytool.
  • The email address that appears in the top right corner of the Keytool interface after you log in. It should be different than the address you used to log in.

Tell us what you think!

Do you have questions or feedback about the new whitelisting feature? Join us in the ValenceUsers forum to share your thoughts with fellow community members and D2L staff.


Have you seen? Have you heard? New Brightspace Community site!

Members of the Valence Developer Community (that’s you) may be interested to know that there’s a new Brightspace Community site. The site is a gathering place for D2L clients, partners, staff – and developers, too – to access resources, share ideas and exchange information on Brightspace and other D2L products and services. Most of the resources are available for public access – which means there’s no need to log in to access product documentation, reply to discussion forums or view self-directed training videos.

Members who create an account on the site gain extra features – like the ability to initiate forum threads and create a member profile to start connecting with other members. You can check out the latest Community Updates blog post for an overview of those features and benefits.

What does this mean for the Developer Community?

The existing community resources will remain as-is. This includes this blog, the ValenceUsers forum, GitHub repos, and the Valence project site.

In the next several months, we’ll be working on a transition plan to bring together these disparate sites in a central location in the new Brightspace Community site. We’ll be sure to give ample notice of any changes – making announcements on all the related sites and by direct email where possible. We intend to provide the easiest transition process possible for Developer Community members. The end goal is to have a unified experience within the larger community site.

What should I do in the meantime?

Keep doing what you’re doing in the Developer Community – post to the ValenceUsers forum, read this blog, and access the Valence project site for documentation and links to other resources.

Join the new Brightspace Community site to access other product and community resources and start connecting with your peers.

Become a member of the Brightspace Community site to discover and connect with D2L clients, partners, users and developers.

If you have any questions or feedback about the current Developer Community resources or the transition plan, start a thread over on the ValenceUsers forum.


ICYMI: FUSION and the D2L Executive Platform Panel

It’s been quiet here on the Valence Developer blog these past few weeks, but there has certainly been a lot of activity within the Valence Developer Community. Let’s get caught up.

The key rallying point for the community this summer was FUSION – D2L’s Global User’s Conference. As we’ve shared in previous blog posts, this year’s conference boasted more extensibility and development-focused content than ever before, mostly centered in the Extensibility Lab. With this expanded developer programming, we saw a significant increase in the number of developers and people in related roles who registered to attend FUSION. This year we met with more than 60 technical folks through breakout sessions, our ever-popular Open Q&A sessions, the new Extensibility Demos event, and the first D2L Executive Platform Panel.

If you weren’t able to attend FUSION, you can get a taste of the experience by watching a recording of the D2L Executive Platform Panel hosted by Laura Brick and (yours truly) Sarah-Beth Bianchi. This panel features John Baker, Nick Oddson, Brian Cepuran and Paul Janzen addressing the topics that have been on the minds of community members since last year’s event – including strategy and roadmap questions – plus a few specific questions from the audience.

Paul Janzen, Brian Cepuran, Nick Oddson at the D2L Executive Platform Panel in the Extensibility Lab at FUSION.

Paul Janzen, Brian Cepuran, Nick Oddson at the D2L Executive Platform Panel in the Extensibility Lab at FUSION.

The activity generated from FUSION has continued in the ValenceUsers forum. We’ve seen new members, more peer support, and many great questions being asked and answered since the conference. Join the forums to start following and participating in those conversations and building on the expertise being shared.

You can also use the forum to share your feedback about your experience at FUSION, or to share your insights into why you might not have attended this year’s conference. Planning for next year’s conference is already underway, so we want to hear from you so that we can plan an event that will be attractive and valuable for community members.


API Versions and You

As D2L moves towards continuous release for its Integrated Learning Platform, the lifecycle for legacy versions of the platform becomes more explicit, and this has a concrete effect on the versions you will be able to use of the Valence Learning Framework API. This blog post provides a simple explanation for what versions of the API will be supported, to what extent, and when that support will end. You can use this information to plan your transition from one version of the Learning Framework API to another.

How the API lifecycle works

To help you understand how the API lifecycle works, it will be good to remember that the API contract provided by the release of a product component is a feature of that release. That is, when we released LE 9.4.1, the LE v1.0 APIs were a feature directly tied to that platform. The support and lifespan of that API feature, then, is directly tied to the support and lifespan of the product component that introduced it.

End of maintenance and deprecation

When the version of a product component enters a time when it gets reduced support, when it reaches “end of maintenance”, it is no longer being actively maintained by D2L. Software defects or other product related issues are not investigated or resolved. No more service packs will be released for that version of the product component.

This also applies to the API contract feature introduced with that product component. When the API contract feature reaches end of maintenance, it becomes deprecated:

  • The APIs in that contract version won’t receive prioritized support or attention by D2L: we may perform maintenance on the API routes, especially in response to critical or security-related issues, but these will get evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and we make no commitment to do the maintenance.
  • You should now put a priority on planning the transition of all your work off the deprecated API contract.

End of support and obsolescence

When the version of a product component enters a time when it gets no support at all, when it reaches “end of support”, D2L will no longer provide support services for the product compoment.

This also applies to the API contract feature introduced with that product component. When the API contract feature reaches end of support, it becomes obsolete:

  • The APIs in that contract version are eligible to have their access entirely removed from the back-end service of all in-market versions of the product component.

That point has an important implication: because the LE v1.0 API introduced on LE 9.4.1 and provided on that platform must remain the same as the LE v1.0 API also supported on LE 10.3.0, when D2L can’t make changes to the LE v1.0 API on LE v9.4.1, the consequence of that is that D2L can’t make changes to that API version anywhere.

What the next ten months looks like

Because of the transition to the continuous release model, the traditional timelines for the lifecycle of D2L’s existing in-market platforms has become accelerated. Here are the important dates you need to know:

Now

As of this moment, both v9.4.1 and v10.0.0 of our Learning Suite are out of maintenance. All other more recent in-market releases are currently receiving full support.

That means that all the API contracts introduced by those platforms are currently deprecated. The principal contracts in question are:

  • D2LWS
  • LE v1.0, v1.1
  • LP v1.0, v1.1
  • EP v2.0, v2.1
  • LR v1.0

August 31, 2014

On August 31 of 2014, two sets of things will happen:

Firstly, v9.4.1 and v10.0.0 of our Learning Suite are out of support. This means that all the API contracts listed in the previous section move fromdeprecated to obsolete, and could get removed from all in-market releases at any time.

Secondly, v10.1.0 and v10.2.0 of our Learning Suite are out of maintenance. This means that all the API contracts that they introduced will become deprecated. The principle contracts in question there are:

  • LE v1.2, v1.3
  • LP v1.2, v1.3
  • EP v2.2, v2.3

January 4, 2015

On January 4 of 2015, the v10.1.0 and v10.2.0 versions of our Learning Suite will pass out of support. At this point, all the API contracts listed in the previous sections will become obsolete.

What this means to you

You should be planning now to move, within the next half a year, from any of these legacy API contracts up to the API contracts introduced with at leastthe v10.3.0 version of the Learning Suite.

Luckily this should not be onerous for you, thanks to D2L’s careful policies around API evolution.

API contracts strive to be supersets. Each successive API contract included, as much as possible, all the API calls from the previously released API contracts. This means that for nearly all your API calls in your integration, all you’ll need to do is increment the API version number in the call to the latest ones provided by your back-end service, and do minimal testing to look for regressions.

API contracts strive to be backwards compatible. All the Learning Framework API contracts released to this point have been minor releases and in nearly all cases have been fully backwards compatible with previous contract versions. Again, you can safely use the latest APIs provided by your back-end service, and do minimal testing to look for regressions.

There are a quite small number of APIs where fixes or improvements have introduced some backward incompatibility; however, even in these cases, the changes have been minimal. You can effectively prepare for your transition.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers