Monthly Archives: October 2006

Subclipse 1.1.8 is now available

As with previous 1.1.x releases, this release is only available for
Eclipse 3.2/Callisto users.

This release includes an updated version of JavaSVN which includes support
for SVN 1.4 features.

* JavaSVN 1.1.0 Beta5 + fixes (includes svn 1.4 working copy format)
* Fixed StringIndexOutOfBoundsException in Compare with Base
* Use a better merge API when performing a merge with the same From/To URL
* Enable the Show History and Annotate options on locally copied files. (442)
* Fixed problem when clicking on Pending… text when expanding tree in checkout wizard.
* Rearrange items on SVN menu and remove all toolbar items except Checkout. (394)
* Removed CVS code that stripped template from commit message. (566)
* Exception during checkout of project set could hang Eclipse.
* Revert improvements/fixes.
* WC to WC copy was not copying local contents.
* Unescape URL’s in decorators.
* Fix potential NPE in shutdown
* Fix potential ConcurrentModificationException.
* Performance improvement in Synch view when resources have been locally deleted.
* Remove forced refresh after Switch/Merge. JavaSVN includes fix that makes this no longer neccessary.
* Commit messages were not being remembered. (570)
* Refresh the Synchronize view automatically after performing a commit from the view when the Show Out of Date folders option is on.
* If resource is managed but also in global ignore list, we should not ignore it.
* Fixed potential NPE in refreshing SyncInfo.

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Who owns the Web?

The Internet is arguably the most important cultural development of our times, and right now we are in the midst of a struggle over its fundamental nature. Specifically, the Internet has become so influential due to users’ ability to readily access information free of charge.

This conflict has crossed into the realm of higher education on several occasions, but a new fight is showing its potential to affect the basic conduct of classroom activity. Last January, Blackboard Inc. was granted a U.S. patent for “a system and methods for implementing education online by providing institutions with the means for allowing the creation of courses to be taken by students online, the courses including assignments, announcements, course materials, chat and whiteboard facilities, and the like, all of which are available to the students over a network such as the Internet.” In other words, Blackboard’s patent is for its popular online course-management system (akin to Oncourse).

Critics have argued that this patent is unduly broad — in effect, awarding Blackboard with the patent not for “any device or even specific software code” but “the idea of putting such tools together in one big, scalable system across a university” (USA Today, Aug. 27). The fear is that Blackboard will wield this patent against competitors and open-source software projects that were developed with the cooperation of the academic community. Those concerns might not be unfounded: In August, Blackboard sued competitor Desire2Learn Inc. for royalties.

According to IU Chief Information Officer and Dean of Information Technology for IU Bloomington Brad Wheeler, IU’s Oncourse is not under threat of lawsuit because it “predated the first Blackboard claim by at least 18 months.” However, IU “has been following the patent matters very closely and is working with the Software Freedom Law Center ( to review the merits of this patent.” Meanwhile, for Blackboard’s part, its senior vice president and general counsel Matthew Small has said, “It would make no sense for Blackboard to go after open-source programs like Moodle and Sakai … because they are not commercial providers” (Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 2). The current variation of Oncourse, Oncourse CL, uses Sakai 2.1 software.

Nevertheless, the Blackboard case does highlight the fact that academia has a stake in this debate over who-owns-what on the Internet — and that we must be vigilant to ensure that the outcome preserves its status as an invaluable educational resource.

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rSmart Releases Its Sakai CLE 2.2, Delivering Commercial Support for eLearning Collaboration and Enhanced Portfolio Tools

PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The rSmart Group Inc., the first provider of commercial support for the open source collaboration and learning environment Sakai, today announced the availability of the rSmart Sakai 2.2 release. This rSmart release builds on the Sakai Community version and introduces powerful new functionality that includes an enhanced user interface and expanded tool set. The rSmart Sakai CLE 2.2 enhances and extends functionality for e-Learning by offering:

Teaching & Learning
The rSmart Sakai CLE 2.2 provides online spaces for fully online courses, blended face to face and online courses. Use the CLE to post documents, conduct tests and quizzes, present sequenced content, post syllabi, and assignments, manage a course calendar, engage in online discussions and chat, construct group edited documents (Wikis), and much more.

Small Groups & Projects
The unique approach to individual and group collaboration spaces gives the CLE the flexibility to support virtually any form of group collaboration.

Electronic Portfolios
The CLE includes the open source portfolio (OSP) which provides tools for individuals to collect and organize work across courses and other learning experiences.

Open Platform for Scholarly Collaboration
The CLE is the premier example of a new generation of open platforms for scholarly collaboration. It is developed by education, for education using modern technologies and a design that is flexible enough to accommodate the diverse needs of all types of institutions.

Building on the work of a Global Community
The rSmart Sakai CLE 2.2 marks the second major release for rSmart in 2006 and the fourth major release for the Sakai Community in two yers.

“Our goal was always to deliver a fully supported Sakai Solution with enhanced capabilities, greater stability, and easier integration; this is another significant step in that direction,” said Anthony Potts, Chief Technology Officer, rSmart. “Through the power of open source we are dramatically reducing the cost of e-Learning solutions while delivering a simple-to-use, enterprise class system, where faculty and administrative personnel, rather than developers, can set up and implement a true collaboration and learning environment.”

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The Most Innovative College in America?

It’s that time again — the fall season marks the ramp-up for the college admissions game. Across the country, eager high school seniors and their parents are rushing to newsstands and bookstores to buy college guides.

But wait … this year there is another contender in the marketplace for information about what’s happening in American colleges and universities, the Commission on the Future of Higher Education’s just-released report, “A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of U.S. Higher Education.” The commission’s members included past and present college presidents, corporate executives, and representatives of various higher education associations. The report from the commission, the first federal panel on quality and related higher education issues in more than two decades, is based on a yearlong study of American higher education.

So do you know which U.S. college or university was cited for “innovation in curriculum development and program delivery” in the commission’s report? The winner is Neumont University, in Salt Lake City. The final version of the Spellings commission report, released September 19, states that “Salt Lake City-based Neumont University is educating the most sought-after software developers in the world” (p. 25).

Another commission member, James J. Duderstadt, an engineer by training and president emeritus of the University of Michigan, notes in an e-mail that several innovative projects — MIT’s Open Courseware initiative, the Sakai Open Source Learning Management Project, and the Google Book Project, among others —were cited in earlier drafts of the commission’s report, “but I had these deleted because I felt it was inappropriate since [some individual] commissioners were involved with each [of these projects].”

(For the record, Duderstadt wordsmithed some “after the final vote” language to mollify another commission member, Gerri Elliott, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector division, who “vigorously” objected to the language in the third draft supporting open-source software and open-content projects in higher education.)

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Opening Up Online Learning

This has not exactly been a season of peace, love and harmony on the higher education technology landscape. A patent fight has broken out among major developers of course management systems. Academic publishers and university officials are warring over open access to federally sponsored research. And textbook makers are taking a pounding for — among other things — the ways in which digital enhancements are running up the prices of their products.

In that context, many may be heartened by the announcement later today at the Educause meeting in Dallas that three dozen academic publishers, providers of learning management software, and others have agreed on a common, open standard that will make it possible to move digital content into and out of widely divergent online education systems without expensive and time consuming reengineering. The agreement by the diverse group of publishers and software companies, who compete intensely with one another, is being heralded as an important breakthrough that could expand the array of digital content available to professors and students and make it easier for colleges to switch among makers of learning systems.

Of course, that’s only if the new standard, known as the “Common Cartridge,” becomes widely adopted, which is always the question with developments deemed to be potential technological advances.

Many observers believe this one has promise, especially because so many of the key players have been involved in it. Working through the IMS Global Learning Consortium, leading publishers like Pearson Education and McGraw-Hill Education and course-management system makers such as Blackboard, ANGEL Learning and open-source Sakai have worked to develop the technical specifications for the common cartridge, and all of them have vowed to begin incorporating the new standard into their products by next spring — except Blackboard, which says it will do so eventually, but has not set a timeline for when.

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Adobe Showcases Solutions for eLearning at EDUCAUSE 2006

Educators Can Create Richer and More Engaging Learning Experiences and Extend the Classroom with Adobe Technologies

DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today at EDUCAUSE 2006 will highlight how educational institutions can extend learning beyond the campus with Adobe technologies. The combination of Adobe’s web conferencing, collaboration software and easy-to-use multimedia creation tools give educators the opportunity to focus on the practices of effective teaching and learning among distributed participants.

Acrobat Connect Professional – Provides all members of the academic community with a full-featured Web conferencing system that offers a rich set of collaboration tools such as chat, white boards, screen and document sharing. Acrobat Connect Professional software is effective for enabling virtual classrooms for large classes and seminars, on- or off-campus. It is ideal for bringing guest speakers to class, and is flexible enough for small group uses such as academic advising and eCoaching. It supports interactive multimedia including Adobe Captivate 2 and Adobe Flash® Professional as well as integrated telephony and Voice over Internet Protocol. In addition, the Adobe Acrobat Connect Collaboration Builder SDK provides a way to create custom interactive applications such as engaging learning games and simulations. Acrobat Connect Professional now integrates with Sakai for even more flexibility.

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IBM awards Rice $700K for shared university research project

Rice and IBM collaborate to help schools integrate academic software applications

HOUSTON, Oct. 6, 2006 — Rice University and IBM today announced they will collaborate on the development of an open-standards-based, service oriented architecture (SOA) that will help higher education institutions tie together their increasingly diverse academic software applications.

The collaboration is supported in part by IBM’s Shared University Research (SUR) award program, created to exemplify the deep partnership between academia and the industry to explore research in areas essential to innovation. Through the SUR award and software from the IBM Academic Initiative, IBM has donated IBM BladeCenter hardware technology, software for an SOA platform and related services valued at $700,000.

Rick Peterson, director for academic and research computing at Rice, is eager to capitalize on open standards systems. “Rice is already utilizing great, individual, open source/open standards-based tools such as D-Space, Sakai and Connexions. With this new research project, made possible by the IBM grant, we can create a framework that will allow these applications to operate well together. More broadly, the framework we develop may be of help to those in higher education who wish to tie together other stand-alone systems and applications. We want the work resulting from this grant to make life easier for faculty and students by allowing them to create a more integrated learning and collaboration environment.”

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Hibernate 3.2 released, certified JPA compatible

JBoss has released Hibernate 3.2, their popular persistence engine, now certified compliant with the Java Persistence API. In addition to JPA compliance, hibernate adds new query capabilities, declarative data filters, and optimistic locking in a cluster with JBoss Cache.

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Sakai’s next SMTP handler?

SubEthaSMTP is a easy to understand Java library which provides a receptive SMTP server component. By plugging this component into your Java application, you can easily receive SMTP mail using a simple abstract Java interface.

This component can be used in almost any kind of email processing application. Hypothetical (and not-so hypothetical) uses include:

A mailing list manager (ie, SubEtha Mail)
A mail server that delivers mail to user inboxes
A mail archiver like Mail Archive
An email test harness (Implemented in this project. It’s called Wiser.)
SubEthaSMTP’s simple, low-level API is suitable for writing almost any kind of mail-receiving application.

A Little History

SubEthaSMTP was split out of the SubEtha Mail mailing list manager because it is a useful standalone component. When we wrote SubEtha, the last thing we wanted to do was write our own SMTP server. In our search for a modular Java SMTP component, we examined:

Apache JAMES
JBoss Mail Server
Java Mail Server
Since you’re reading this page you probably already know what we found: Six different SMTP implementations without the slightest thought given to reusability. Even Jstmpd, which purports to be a “A Modular Java SMTP Daemon”, isn’t. Furthermore, even though JBoss Mail is in active development, the team was unintersted in componentization of the SMTP processing portion of their server.

During the development of SubEtha’s testing harness, we tried out the Dumbster software and found that not only was the API difficult to use, it did it not work properly, the developer has not done any development on it in about a year and it does not work reliably on Mac OS X. With two simple classes we re-implemented it as an included project called Wiser.

We hate reinventing wheels. This should be the LAST FREAKING JAVA SMTP IMPLEMENTATION.

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HIGHER-END LEGAL ADVICE. Since learning that Blackboard had initiated a patent action against CMS competitor Desire2Learn, the Sakai Foundation engaged the services of the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC). Among the SFLC directors are Columbia University (NY) Law Professor Eben Moglen and Stanford University (CA) Law Professor Lawrence Lessig.

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