some interesting notes on the upcoming clan release

Tue, Jul 17, 2007

I originally penned this draft a while ago, just prior to the demise of Bodington as our VLE solution. Our instance was called CLAN and had a lot of groovy things in it. However, we’ve now moved on and Blackboard is our VLE solution, along with webct and the non teaching people who are still using CLAN. I thought I’d publish this draft for posterity, lest I forget how much I worked on the last release of CLAN.

There are still groovy things happening with Bodington, with Jon Maber, the creator of Bodington, about to launch an interesting new service, Campus Academicus, which will add a load of new features to Bodington. One new feature would have been very useful for our CLAN, the virtual host support that Jon is going to build into Bodington. So instead of the root level being a set of buildings, it will be a set of virtual sites. e.g. it could have been perth.clan.uhi.ac.uk, moray.clan.uhi.ac.uk. But the powers that be have binned CLAN.

So what follows is a blast from the past. Farewell CLAN and I hope Jon has every success with the next iteration of Bodington.

So we’ve got a CLAN release coming up, which is our version of the Bodington VLE and I’ve been working night and day to get it ready. A few improved features that I’ve coded are:

The original intent was make Minerva an Enterprise Group Service, dishing out Domain objects and each application would provide connectors that knew how to map the UHI Domain model to their local models. However, this is academia remember, so the whole lot ended in a huge hackfest to get it out the door in record time and now it’s a complete mess. What’s happened is CLAN has become the “enterprise”. Rather than query an enterprise group service, it JDBCs in to the database directly and sucks out and spews in what it needs.

The version of an enterprise system we have at present is clearly not sustainable. Applications cannot query database tables directly. I’ve already had to add a crappy hack table to cover module non-enrollments and that table space will grow. So the only way forward for the eFramework is to move to an enterprise group service.

What’s happened is a shared database type of enterprise integration pattern has occurred, organically. It wasn’t planned. It just happened. It was hacked into existence by the political requirements at that time. Minerva was built to mirror our SITS SRS as an authoritative source of user information that could be updated with information from other applications in the enterprise but what’s actually happened is CLAN has walked all over its database and is now claiming ownership. The two-way comms between CLAN and Minerva is polluting the enterprise data space and as other applications rely on it, such as our Wildfire chat server, that pollution will slowly spread throughout the enterprise. But now that the release is ready, I can concentrate on the Enterprise Group Service. I’ve already done the Domain model so next is the set of ORM mappings, which should be fun. Wrap it all in Axis2 and off we go. In the meantime, CLAN can continue to use it’s direct route in to the SRS data, and I’ll slowly migrate it to the group service in due course.

But with this release, CLAN has moved up a notch or two on the integration-ometer.

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