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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, VLE and SIMS (MIS) Intergration in Technical; Originally Posted by penfold_99 Capita are involved with the SIF UK Technical Board and Partnership Exchange uses SIF to move ...
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    stratisphere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by penfold_99 View Post
    Capita are involved with the SIF UK Technical Board and Partnership Exchange uses SIF to move data between consortia schools/academies and there are third party application that can SIF enable SIMS.net.

    Is your agent to link Moodle and SIMS going to use SIF or interface with command reporter directly?
    Yeh I was aware of that but I'm not aware of anything Capita offers that actually uses SIF in SIMS? Although certainly wasnt aware of third party agents! I'll look in to them, assuming they don't charge a silly amount then that could be very useful!

    As you'll know various versions have been around for yonks... yet annoyingly it doesn't seem to have taken off (not from my part of the forest in the front-line anyway). I love the idea of it and as a developer it makes a stupidly massive difference in just making "it" work. Communication between all common education systems is what I'm always striving to achieve... but there always has to be hacks to get things to talk (albeit it, one way most of the time) together.

    I personally am using command reporter to drag the info out of SIMS in to various systems and apps as that's the only way I can do it without breaking any contracts/terms etc. However I've if the SIF agents for SIMS work out, then things will be changing pretty rapidly

    paulgarratt83: If these agents are cheap enough for the integration I need, then I may very well be able to help out!

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    Quote Originally Posted by stratisphere View Post
    Yeh I was aware of that but I'm not aware of anything Capita offers that actually uses SIF in SIMS? Although certainly wasnt aware of third party agents! I'll look in to them, assuming they don't charge a silly amount then that could be very useful!

    As you'll know various versions have been around for yonks... yet annoyingly it doesn't seem to have taken off (not from my part of the forest in the front-line anyway). I love the idea of it and as a developer it makes a stupidly massive difference in just making "it" work. Communication between all common education systems is what I'm always striving to achieve... but there always has to be hacks to get things to talk (albeit it, one way most of the time) together.

    I personally am using command reporter to drag the info out of SIMS in to various systems and apps as that's the only way I can do it without breaking any contracts/terms etc. However I've if the SIF agents for SIMS work out, then things will be changing pretty rapidly

    paulgarratt83: If these agents are cheap enough for the integration I need, then I may very well be able to help out!
    There are a few commerical tools that estract data from SIMS using SIF, ZiLink and a few others. Also I know there are a few bespoke products that use a bit of the SIF to get the data but have custom code to do other things.

    I have found these products to be rather over priced for what I am after. Our Primary schools would not be able to afford the circa 1k a year for the product and I don't think they can justify it. We also have a central SIMS learning Gateway setup here and the price to primaries for this is cheap (for Capita).

    I was hoping to either create my own or buy in an agent to develop.

    I'm not sure where to start with a SIF agent so any help would be great.

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by stratisphere View Post
    Oh man, as with all things "buzzy"... it's totally died off. I put loads of work/research in to doing a C# implementation of the SIF framework only to find that I could not find anything to link in to SIMS. I know Capita do some kind of developer kit but you have to pay a ridiculous fee for it... just to link in to a number of DLLs (There are of course other technical solutions/possibilities, but I could never endorse anything that does not follow various terms of use etc).

    I havnt heard the SIF buzzword in aggesssss. Currently everything is one way from SIMS. I have various apps which sit on servers that run imported reports in sims (via the commandreporter.exe) and then transfered to the site for processing via HTTPS XMLRPC. Basically, read only. But without paying for developer access, I can only dream of writing to SIMS.

    Interestingly enough, i'm currently working on an agent to link in to Moodle FROM sims (auto creating groups/enrolments etc). What are you looking to do?
    'Moodle FROM sims (auto creating groups/enrolments etc).'

    I'm after something like this and then maybe see what else I can get out of SIMS.

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    stratisphere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulgarratt83 View Post
    'Moodle FROM sims (auto creating groups/enrolments etc).'

    I'm after something like this and then maybe see what else I can get out of SIMS.
    Ahh, that's currently what we do with ours... although it's a bit of a messy approach. Currently we do ours like:

    Qualification/Subject/Class memberships go this way (all our students have their admission number stored in their user accounts in active directory)
    SIMS -> MyAwesomeSpecialDecoderApp -> Active Directory
    This ends in each qualification/subject/class having it's own group in AD with the members as appropriate.

    The app then auto creates the courses in moodle to match qualifications. It then enrolls the students that apply.
    As a last step, it also creates the class groups in each course so staff can assign things by group if they wish.

    This is all very well but we've found it's not very flexible. For example, some teachers are wanting to create their own courses (I.e. Y7 ICT Homework). So we're currently looking at another method by using meta courses and cohort syncing. This will basically allow us to define the cohorts available (Subjects, qualifications and classes) and then when you create a new course (be it manually or automatically) you can assign which ever cohort you choose.

    I'm currently working on the app which will sync all that. Ours will be doing it via AD too, but it's trivial to make it direct to Moodle. It should also involve a moodle side plugin to allow XMLRPC rather than having direct access to the DB to the server your running the syncing app from should only need https access to the moodle server.

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    We do something similar but does not require links to AD apart from authentication.
    I've created a Java app which is run via cron on Linux which accesses the SIMS CommandReporter tool by RMI. This extracts the required data for Staff, Students and Classes by running SIMS reports and creates an intermediate MySQL database. Any new users and classes are created in Moodle via web services. The final part is to use database enrollment into the classes created from SIMS. These classes are not used directly but are used to populate courses with meta links to the SIMS classes within Moodle. One thing which is also needed is the usernames of students and staff added to SIMS in a UDF.

    I am going to change the access into SIMS a bit by moving the extraction of the data via CommandReporter, instead of using RMI I'm going to use web services on a GlassFish install on the SIMS server. It still extracts the data via reports but the server part is less likely to be shut down than that currently in use by RMI.
    The web service creates WSDL file so can be used by other languages instead of being tied to Java. So if you want to code in C# you can still extract the data from SIMS via web services.
    The web service software can be downloaded from http://www.beaconhillcott.net, it is in the "dist" sub-directory of the zipped NetBeans project.
    Last edited by bantonia; 19th April 2012 at 10:58 PM.



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