Posts Tagged ‘Blackboard’


Blackboard, Prototype and IE9 (and friends)

posted by Karsten

in Uncategorized

I’m in the middle of writing a Blackboard (BB) building block (B2) which would enable tagging of content inside BB by a instructor, so that the instructor can create a different structure than folders within the course content. The idea is that this should allow a more explorative form of learning for the students.

The courses we envisage using this B2 would be quite big with a lot of content, so the initial tagging would involve a lot of items. Unfortunately, at present, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to embed new functionality into the original BB functionality, and B2s have to create all of the user-interaction for them selves. With this opportunity (always a half-full kind of guy) I though I’d go a little bit over the top and create a nice javascript UI with flying boxes etc., and I have found a nice prototype based library, which could do this for me (

BB is using prototype, so staying away from jQuery based libraries is advisable. But after developing a prototype page of this that works in Chrome I thought I should test it in IE, which means IE9 on my computer. This is where things went belly up. Nothing worked. Going into debug mode it turned out that one of the elements found by the prototype $ function was not being interpreted as a prototype enhanced element, so the select function didn’t work on the recently found element!

I spent a lot of time on trying approaches using other kinds of elements, but no matter what I tried it always gives the same problem.

I suddenly saw/realised that the prototype used by BB was version 1.6.1, which isn’t supporting IE9 (nor Firefox 3, 3.5, 4) which isn’t that surprising as it was developed in 2009! So I took a different approach to check BB with an empty B2, and it throws several exceptions while loading the page! So perhaps this issue is not that strange.

I now have 2.5 options, either:

  • make a simple pure jsp with tradition html
  • create the actions using first principles, i.e. handwrite it without using libraries.
  • (the half option) wait to BB updates prototype to the current version.


posted by Karsten

in Uncategorized

I’m developing several Blackboard (BB) Building Blocks (B2) for the DEVELOP project that I’m involved with at the Uni.

In one of them I have list student submitted links to websites and the potentially show a website inside an iFrame (yea I know, but my hands are tied, ask BB!) This I thought would be looking a bit more interesting if I could do this inside a Lightbox, i.e. a window inside the webpage where the website would show up, and the user would then not have to move outside BB to review student submitted links. There are plenty of options out there, but this has proven a bit harder than it ought to be.

My restrictions are as follow:

  • The lightbox must be open source – MIT / GPL style we don’t care.
  • The lightbox should run in IE, Firefox and Chrome.
  • Must *NOT* rely on jQuery, YUI or Mootools.
  • But can use Prototype.
  • Cannot rely on variables that point back to an internal file location (B2 cannot be linked to absolutely, at leat I haven’t found a way to do it…)
  • Should still be “alive”, although we use it if it is the only solution that works.

So right now I’ve tried:

  • Lightwindow – Works, but not in IE9
  • GreyBox – require links to folder
  • HighSlide – works but is not open source, and only free for non-commercial use, which Universities hardly can claim these days…
  • Prototype Window – seems to through cross domain exceptions, and it hasn’t been updated since April 2007, so I would have been surprised if cross-domain access rules hadn’t changed since then.
  • ShawdowBox – Works, but is only for personal, non-commercial usage.
  • Lytebox – WoW, that seems to work!! My search seems to have ended…

And yet another day passed in the life the Doctor!