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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

AspenInsideOut.org Trainings in Massachusetts

Next month I will be presenting AspenInsideOut.org 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.

Continue reading

SQL Shortcut: How to use Excel to Create Custom SQL Queries

NoShowSelectedIs there anything more boring than the “gruntwork” of selecting individual records from the list view in Aspen so that you can “Show Selected?” Have you ever clicked 50 records and lost your work when you viewed a student detail page to make sure you selected the right record? A light bulb went off in my head the day it occurred to me that an Excel function could concatenate fields in a spreadsheet to create a SQL query from a list of any length.  Since then, I have used this method to create queries for as few as 5 records, and as many as 4500, based on such elements as local/state ID, course IDs and conduct incident numbers.  This has been particularly useful when troubleshooting state reports. To adjust the length of the query, all that is needed is to adjust the number of rows in the Excel sheet.

Continue reading

Adding Queries to the Wiki

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

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Secondary Details Pop-up @ HPS

Secondary Details Pop-up — what in the world is that?
Beginning in version 5.0, Aspen unveiled the ability to put a customizable pop-up on list screens. In Hanover, we have utilized it in several places. Principals and secretaries access a template-based pop-up on the Student list, as seen here:
student list secondary details pop-up

Even more important is the ability for our teachers to access a template-based pop-up from the Gradebook score grid, as seen here:

Continue reading

Welcome to AspenInsideOut.org!

Welcome to AspenInsideOut.org – 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 AspenInsideOut.org, the mailing list is a vibrant part of the Aspen community and a great way for getting quick answers to your questions

Continue reading