The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is pleased to announce the fourth major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Cardinal or OAE 4. In fact, the team has been so busy that 9 different releases have already taken place under the Cardinal umbrella, which means that the latest version is 4.3.0.
OAE Cardinal's main new feature is push notifications, providing real-time UI updates for activity relevant to the user or activity happening in the context the user is currently looking at. Next to that, OAE Cardinal also adds OAuth support for the REST APIs, activity feed and caching improvements, new UI translations and much more.
Prior to OAE Cardinal, it was necessary to refresh the page to see any changes that have happened since the page was loaded, which caused people to not immediately notice changes or be able to react to new activity. User testing and user feedback also showed that people almost expected immediate updates to be part of a collaborative system like OAE.
The introduction of push notifications addresses this in a very seamless way, providing real-time UI updates for activity relevant to the user or activity happening in the context the user is currently looking at. Some examples of push notifications in action can be seen in the following screencast:
Push notifications use websockets under the hood to push updates to the browser, which is a technological foundation that will be useful for many other features to come. Performance testing these push notifications turned out to be quite a challenge because of the websocket readiness of performance testing tools, but we're pleased to say that we've been able to contribute significantly to the websocket support of Tsung, our performance testing tool of choice.
It is now possible to authenticate with the OAE APIs via OAuth 2's "Client Credentials Grant". This new authentication mechanism provides much easier programmatical access to the APIs without sacrificing security. After creating an OAuth Client, it can be used to interact with all the OAE APIs on behalf of the client's owner.
OAE Cardinal now has complete translations for the following new languages:
- Swedish (thanks to MÃ¥ns Ramberg from Research Research)
- Hindi (thanks to Udaya Ghattamaneni from Marist College)
Activity feed improvements
A number of activity feed improvements have been added to the OAE Cardinal release. Thanks to push notifications, activity feeds will now immediately reflect any actions taken by the current user. For example, files uploaded will be shown in the activity feed straight away, without having to refresh the page, dramatically improving the navigational experience.
Improvements have also been made to the number of activities that show in your activity feed from people you follow. Any private items that the current user is not involved in, will no longer be surfaced. Even though those items were correctly not accessible when clicking through, it removes the potential of exposing something and reduces the amount of activity updates received.
A number of precautions have been put in place to avoid people receiving too many email notifications for actions taking place in the system. This is only the first step in a number of improvements that will rationalise the OAE email notification behaviour further down the line, including the introduction of email notification preferences and aggregation.
Improvements to the production build script have been made, ensuring that subsequent builds will not conflict with each other in terms of files cached in the browser. This will make sure that all files are correctly cached, but still correctly refreshed when necessary.
Try it out
OAE Cardinal can be experienced on the project's QA server at http://oae.oae-qa0.oaeproject.org. It is worth noting that this server is actively used for testing and will be wiped and redeployed every night.
The source code has been tagged with version numbers 4.0.0, 4.1.0, 4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.1.3, 4.2.0, 4.2.1, 4.2.2 and 4.3.0. The latest version can be downloaded from the following repositories:
Documentation on how to install the system can be found at https://github.com/oaeproject/Hilary/blob/4.3.0/README.md.
The repository containing all deployment scripts can be found at https://github.com/oaeproject/puppet-hilary.
Get in touch
The mailing list used for Apereo OAE is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can subscribe to the mailing list at http://collab.sakaiproject.org/mailman/listinfo/oae-dev.
Bugs and other issues can be reported in our issue tracker at https://github.com/oaeproject/3akai-ux/issues.