Q4 2018 openEQUELLA Open Source Support Briefing

Published on: January 11, 2019
Chris Beach, Software Developer

The quarterly openEQUELLA Open Source Support (OSS) Briefing is an opportunity to share the contributions performed on behalf of the OSS program, highlight Unicon's perspective on contributions, share happenings in the community, and describe opportunities to engage further with Unicon. 

Discussions for the openEQUELLA Q4 2018 Support Briefing focused on Community News, Sustaining Engineering, the release of 2018.2, a Community Spotlight by Quinnipiac, and Upcoming Events.

Community News
We started the briefing by reviewing the recurring community meetings - the openEQUELLA Community Developer Meeting, and the openEQUELLA Advisory Board.  

Discussion highlights from the developer meeting included features in 2019.1, and the frequency of the meetings. openEQUELLA’s 2019.1 roadmap has a few migration points from the Admin Console / old UI to the new Google Material Design / React UI including the Security Manager, Search, and the Selection Session. The 2019.1 roadmap also contains the LTI / REST rebuild of the Blackboard integration. 

The developers on the call agreed that the recurring meeting has proven useful and increased opportunity for collaboration would be a value-add. As such, we’re increasing the openEQUELLA developer meeting to be once a month. Please stay tuned to the equella-dev user forum for future meeting times / connection details. The most recent meeting was held on January 3rd and the minutes are here.  

In other community news, we discussed the new community repository, and the release of 2018.2. The new community repository is hosted via openEQUELLA, courtesy of the Edalex team. While Edalex hosts the repository, the aim is a global, community-wide place to share ideas and content with other openEQUELLA adopters. All content added to the repository is licensed under the Public Domain. There are already some intriguing submissions to the repository, so please check it out at https://community.edalexcloud.com and consider adding your own content that you’d like to share!

The last part of community news was focused on the latest release, 2018.2. This release signals a shift in the release-naming pattern, going from major.minor versioning to year.number versioning. So to clarify, the open source releases, including the upcoming release are: 6.5 → 6.6 → 2018.2 → 2019.1. The 2018.2 release guide is here, and the demo installer / upgrader is here. Note the demo installer / upgrader does not include the Kaltura or Oracle integrations, and uses a self-signed Java certificate to build the applets and Admin Console. You are encouraged to build an installer / upgrader for your institution that contains Kaltura and/or Oracle support, as well as use a Java signing certificate that is keyed to your institution.

Sustaining Engineering
In the review of Unicon’s Sustaining Engineering efforts, we discussed the solidification of Docker work, open sourcing an example of a deep customized modern theme for 6.5, documentation efforts, and efforts to align on a path forward for the Blackboard (Bb) integration. For the Bb integration, we are going to sunset the Bb Building Block and Web Service for integrations using Bb v3400+ and SaaS, and instead focus on building out a straight LTI / REST functionality between Bb and openEQUELLA. This will utilize resources in a more effective, future-proofing manner, while providing the much-needed integration for adopters needing to use Bb v3400+ / SaaS.

While we didn’t complete as many code fixes / enhancements as originally planned in Q4, we’ve rolled over the Q4 capacity into Q1 which positions us well to implement the Bb integration of Pull-to-LMS and Push-to-LMS using native LTI/REST without the use of building blocks or web services.

Release of 2018.2
After the discussion on Sustaining Engineering, we reviewed the highlight features in the 2018.2 release - Summary and Attachment View Counts, Streamlined openEQUELLA Resource Attachments, New UI Theme and Logo Editor, Scripting API, Course Selector, Log HTTP Referrers, and Docker.

It was noted that the 6.6 prototype feature of search facets was removed in 2018.2. Hopefully adopters got interested in the search facets, since they will be returning in a later release (possibly as early as 2019.1).

Consider reviewing the recording for a discussion of the release features, follow along in the features guide, and ideally, take the release for a spin and see for yourself.

As we concluded the discussion on 2018.2, and with the roadmap of 2019.1 in mind, we highlighted Unicon’s near future goals for openEQUELLA - Rebuild Blackboard integration, open source EQUELLA Sync, work on the priority backlog (which OSS clients help drive), and continue to sunset Admin Console. If you are a subscriber, and have a bug or feature you’d like to see in in our roadmap, please open an S5 Zendesk ticket to discuss with us.

Community Spotlight
For the Community Spotlight, Mary Glynn from Quinnipiac University presented an excellent example of configuring and customizing EQUELLA to enable a faculty ePortfolio. The need was to gather disparate demographics, publications, achievements, etc. from each faculty member and present them to other faculty, the larger university audience, and a public view in a clean, maintainable way. Mary and her colleagues turned to the flexibility of EQUELLA to address this need. She demoed the solution in the recording, so please take a look. It provides a solid use case that EQUELLA can be more than just a LOR, and how a good design up front can reap benefits as the concept expands.

Upcoming Events
After the Mary’s discussion on ePortfolios in EQUELLA, we noted several upcoming events around openEQUELLA. We encourage folks to participate in these events to deepen the excitement around and value-add of openEQUELLA.

  • Unicon OSS openEQUELLA Briefing Q1 2019: Online - 4/11/2019
  • Open Apereo 2019:  Los Angeles, CA - 6/2/2019 - 6/6/2019
  • EDUCAUSE:  Chicago, IL - 10/14/2019 - 10/17/2019

Conclusion
The briefing was well attended, and we appreciate the follow up from the call. We encourage you to reach out to the community, get excited about openEQUELLA, ask questions, and help shape the future of this open source Content Management System.  

Click here for the video recording.

Click here for the briefing slides.

Chris Beach photo

Chris Beach

Software Developer

Chris Beach is a Software Developer at Unicon, Inc. and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. Chris is currently involved in the support and development of open source software, focused on EQUELLA and uPortal. Chris was previously a Senior Support Analyst for EQUELLA at Pearson, where he was involved with hosting support and escalated client support for EQUELLA.