Archive for September, 2012

Archive data migration

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My current task is to migrate the archive data from the various databases which exist around the University, into iPaMS. This is so that older databases and systems can be phased out, and the iPaMS web service can be used to publish archive data to various intranets and places where it is needed, for existing students, staff and alumni.

Most of this data is in flat tables or XML so this should keep the import relatively straightforward. The challenging part comes with the more complex structure of iPaMS – each data field, such as module aims for example, is stored as a separate record (which facilitates the flexible templates) and it is linked to the yearly module descriptor with a unique module_descriptor_id, which in turn is linked to the module with a unique module_id.

My initial attempts at the migration ran into problems if I tried to assign all these id numbers in one go, as I didn’t know what data was being added manually while I was busy working on the import. So potentially we could end up with duplicate live data. Then I realised it would be better to do the migration in layers, like this:

  • Week 1: Add all the module and programme top level records (we used data from SITS to find all these)
  • Week 2: Now we have the module and programme ids, add all the yearly records we have to import
  • Week 3: Now that we have the module_description_ids we can start to add all the individual pieces of data

This is actually slightly more complex in reality (and will take a little longer than 3 weeks!) mainly due to the fact that I will deal with each of the colleges separately, so steps 2 and 3 will be repeated for each college. Also there is some data which already exists for humanities which is also due to be imported, so we need to identify the ‘correct’ version and remove and archive any incorrect data, such as that imported on the wrong template.

All the weekly import scripts are written purely in SQL which I try out on a local copy of the database, then I run the same scripts on the test site and then finally I run the scripts on the live server during a scheduled update period. This should give enough opportunity to spot any potential issues before the live data is affected. My top priority in all of this is to protect the live data and not cause any issues or duplicate data to be added, so hopefully this can all go as smoothly as possible!

Helen Connole (iPaMS Lead Developer)

CRIATE Developer

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Hi, I am Justin and the latest member of the CRIATE team. My role includes the implementation and test of minor functional enhancements, problem resolution and general support.  The team have been very welcoming and have taken time out of their busy schedules to ensure I get up to speed as soon as possible.

I am relatively new to the University (4 months) and my wider responsibilities focus on student engagement capturing (welfare and attendance systems).

Historically, I have over 16 years experience working on complicated software systems. Projects include the Eurofighter 2000, GSA 8 gun and a hybrid ‘fixed’ wireless telephone system for a large telecommunication company (that’s not as crazy as it sounds).  I, alongside another member of the larger Exeter IT team, have even delivered a software solution for one of Alan Sugar’s companies; in the days long before the boardroom.


JISC Briefing Paper

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JISC have published a briefing paper ‘sharing and managing your course data effectivly using XCRI-CAP’ – perfect for anybody interested in learning a little more about XCRI.

Update + Save the date for our dissemination

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Hello all,

Although we have been a bit quiet on both the twitter and  blog front, we are still working hard behind the scenes. I thought I would do a quick update just to let you know how we’re currently getting on. Firstly, we are currently organising our dissemination event! We have it planned out for Monday 29th October. We will be releasing some more information about the content of the event very soon but for now please pop this in your diaries.

Furthermore, we are also working on writing the training strategy for the project. We have a lot of training in the pipeline and we need to organise how we’re going present this, whilst also planning for the upkeep of training after the project has finished. Once we have implemented the workflow into iPaMS there will need to be brand new training for the users so we are looking into this whilst we write the strategy. Currently all the users in iPaMS have had module training; this has included a range of documentation, video and training sessions to teach them how to add and edit modules in iPaMS. We are currently also working towards designing and producing programme training as users will soon be able to start entering programme data into iPaMS. This leads nicely into my next point.

As project support officers, Cat and myself  have started to enter some of the 12/13 programme data into iPaMS already and so far we have around 111 programmes in there. The majority of these programmes are from Humanities, however, we are also working on CLES programmes too. We have found this to be a little stressful at times, as the programme template in iPaMS is arranged differently to those on word documents that we have received. Therefore, it can sometimes take a while to find the right information to put into the correct field in iPaMS, but after entering a couple of programmes we got a good sense of where to find everything. Entering the data ourselves has helped us to think about the training we need to provide users when they come to enter this data.

Lastly, we have been focusing on the iPaMS web service. We have written up a functional specification and this has been distributed to the internal stakeholders. We are now currently waiting for this to be signed off and then we can crack on with setting this up.

We hope everyone’s projects are going well, please keep us up to date with any new blogs or twitter accounts regarding #coursedata projects. We love to know how you’re all doing.

Lauren (Project Support Officer)

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