Author Archives: Brian Ciccolo

XML Imports: Insert. Update. Replace?

xml-to-dbAnyone who has worked with XML-based imports in Aspen knows there are two modes: insert and update. Well, technically there are three modes – both is a hybrid of insert and update. The mode determines how the import handles records in the source data file. However, I needed another option for importing medical alerts. Hanover maintains medical data, including alerts, in HealthOffice. Every night, we want to import the medical alerts from HealthOffice and completely replace the existing medical alerts data in Aspen. Insert and/or update modes wouldn’t work because an alert that was deleted in HealthOffice wouldn’t appear in the data file – there was no way to tell Aspen to remove it! To solve this problem we created a new import mode: replace. Keep reading to see how replace mode works and how you can use it in your own imports.

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Tracking Community Service

hps-habitat-for-humanity-2014-09-20Hanover High School recently updated its graduation requirements to include a community service component. Starting this year, every high school student must log 10 hours of community service each year from grades 9 through 12 in order to graduate. As the school year progressed and students started submitting paper forms for their service hours we knew we needed something better than a spreadsheet to track the data. After some basic configuration, a few small customizations, and one workflow we were able to enter, view, and summarize the community service data all from Aspen. Keep reading to learn how we got all this up and and running.

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XML Exports with a Little Help from Java

Java & XML

The other day I was working on a new export for Blackboard Connect when I ran into a common problem: of the fourteen fields I needed to export, one of them had special logic that couldn’t be handled via the XML definition. Ugh! That meant I was going to have to convert the entire export to Java. Or so I thought until a little lightbulb went off. Read on to learn how you can use this tip to save yourself from writing an entire export with Java.

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Class Lists – More Than Just Rosters

rosterThe default “Class Lists” report in Aspen displays the roster of students for each section in the master schedule. Definitely useful but somewhat boring. Fortunately there is plenty of potential for this report, especially with the first day of school upon us (or already past in many cases!). Keep reading for a couple of quick customizations you can add to the “Class Lists” report for your district.

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Getting to Know Calculated Fields

Calculated FieldsYou’ve probably heard of Calculated Fields in Aspen but you might not be too familiar with what they are or how they work. And even if you know the basics you might not be aware of how you can customize or create Calculated Fields to meet the needs of your district. This article is intended to give you that information. Keep reading for a brief overview followed by two real-world examples that will get you on your way.

Continue reading Trainings in Massachusetts

Next month I will be presenting at both the South Coastal Aspen Users Group on July 15th in Hyannis and the MA Aspen Users Group on July 31st in Dartmouth (specific times and locations after the break). The presentation will cover:

  • Overview of the site
  • How to register for an account
  • How to post to the forum
  • How to add content to the wiki (hands-on exercise)

If you’re a member of either group (or want to join) then plan on attending! Bring a laptop and your favorite Direct SQL query from Aspen. Hope to see you there.

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Adding Queries to the Wiki

So you’re ready to contribute to the wiki – great! This video will show you how to add one of your favorite queries from Aspen to the wiki.

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Welcome to!

Welcome to – we’re glad to have you here! This site is intended to provide an Aspen knowledge base created for and by Aspen users. There are four main components:

  • Blog – this is the first article in a blog that will feature tips & tricks, tutorials, and case studies; the goal is to publish one article a week and all our members are invited to submit ideas
  • Forum – this is an area for persisted and searchable conversations; anyone can read but you need to register for an account in order to post
  • Wiki – this is the repository for all sorts of resources like custom report and direct SQL queries; similar to the forum, anyone can read but you need to register for an account in order to post
  • Mailing List – although not technically a part of, the mailing list is a vibrant part of the Aspen community and a great way for getting quick answers to your questions

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