Back in summer 2009 we reviewed our School Database provision. The result of that review was to commence a project to re-factor both of the existing back and front ends. This project also “adopted” a number of additional areas not specifically covered in the original review, including:

  • integration of the old IGS and ISS Access database systems
  • complete re-factoring of the Data Model
  • implementation of a new generic synchronisation system for upstream data
  • new externalised schema reperesentation including change management
  • introduction of a web portal replacing most of the old reporting mechanism
  • replacement of the old Tutoring Access system with a new HTBN bid process

Not all of the above are finished, however the primary work of re-factoring has now been completed.

We migrated the back-end from OpenIngres and a manually managed service to a properly LCFG managed PostgreSQL service, using our local authentication and authorization structure. This meant the service would cost considerably less effort to run and be much easier to support. This work was all done in late 2009 and early 2010. Apart from functional benefits offered by PostgreSQL over Ingres (such as data integrity bug fixes and performance) this change had no user visibility. Aspects of work associated with this re-factor were:

  • port data model from Ingres SQL to PostgreSQL
  • conversion of all internal triggers/functions and particularly assessment processing functions
  • conversion of all live reports (in the order of many hundreds)
  • change to using local infrastructure authentication/authorisation

For the front-end re-factor we designed and implemented a new web browser based database client for end users to maintain information in the database. This replaced the old native platform client which was based on an IDE toolkit that was no longer supported or generally available. This new interface was developed over summer 2010 and was first deployed for testing by ISS in November 2010 and rolled out for the IGS in January 2011. It was finally rolled out to the ITO in September 2011 just in time for the start of the current academic session. The new interface was backwardly compatible with the old one and allowed all the existing custom forms to be used. Most of these have now been replaced by new custom forms as the ITO structures were also changed to reflect more data being taken from upstream.

The new School Database service currently consists of the following core components:

  • PostgresSQL Database, LCFG managed
  • TheonSchema – external XML::Schema representation of the School Data Model
  • TheonUI – web browser database client for admin users, main desktops are provided for Research Students, Taught Students, Courses, Duties, HTBN and Legacy HR/ITO/Computing
  • TheonPortal – web based reports for all users
  • TheonCoupler – generic sync system, keeps local data consistent with central data
  • TheonMarker – assessment functionality processing and reporting

Further information is available on the project development web site.

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