IRC log of #schooltool for Friday, 2010-09-10

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ryanpghi all15:26
ryanpgI was supposed to meet Tom and Justas here at 8:00 Central time15:28
ryanpgI wonder if I missed them15:29
yvldefinitely not :)15:29
* yvl is Justas15:29
yvlisn't it 7:30 Central time now?15:30
* yvl is just checking if he got the timezones right...15:30
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ryanpgyvl, lol it is... :) I'm early! Hi th1a15:37
ryanpgyvl, nice to meet you15:37
th1ahi ryanpg.15:37
yvlwell, good morning then ;)15:38
ryanpgthanks yvl, what time is it in your part of the world?15:39
yvl3:40 PM15:39
* yvl is glad you all are on West coast :)15:40
yvlby the way, my HDD managed to hit the bucket15:40
ryanpgoh not bad... at least it's not the middle of the night - th1a I was worried I missed you guys - a quick glance at my clock registered as after 815:40
* ryanpg needs to drink some coffee or something15:40
yvlso I'm on Live CD at the moment15:40
* yvl is a big fan of coffee ;)15:41
th1asorry to hear that yvl.15:41
yvlit's not that bad, just annoying that such things happen when you're supposed to have an IRC meeting... :)15:42
yvlwell, that's Murphy's law for you15:42
yvlok... let me grab some coffee; and I'm good to go :)15:44
* yvl is ready15:53
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yvlthanks for waiting :)15:56
ryanpgI just put a pot on myself16:02
ryanpgwell... yvl you know from th1a's email that we are deploying schooltool at my school. I'm the technology coordinator there and so I pretty much have complete freedom in choosing what technology we use16:06
yvlyes, and I'm happy you're trying out SchoolTool :)16:07
ryanpgit came down to schooltool or open-sis, I went with schooltool because it seemed more "open" and it's ubuntu specific (I'm a fan) and because I was able to make a connection here with th1a16:07
ryanpgthanks, yvl16:07
ryanpgfrom what I've gathered you guys have made a lot of planful decisions about what features are included and what level of controllability you expose the user/administrator to16:08
ryanpgMy curiosity (for right now) is around the issue of user permissions16:09
yvlwell, a long time ago we had a mechanism that most web apps use16:10
ryanpgspecifically; that I as a system administrator have limited (if any) ability to customize or adjust what level or permission users have16:10
ryanpgyvl, yes, th1a did mention that function was there once16:10
th1aIn the Zope case it is even more granular and complicated because in the default,16:11
th1ayou can change the permissions at each level of the hierarchy.16:11
yvlwe actually wrote our own implementation, based on the concept of crowds16:12
yvland at the moment permissions are programmable16:12
yvlon the low-tech end of it,16:12
yvlyou have "crowds" of people, like teachers, section instructors, etc.16:13
ryanpgyvl, oh... I am happy to work on the "low-tech" end actually16:13
yvland then there's code that checks if a person is in certain crowds for a partilucar object16:13
ryanpgI did take a look at the structure of schooltool, and started to get a feel for zope (which is essentially python right?)16:13
yvlwell, yes - it's python + Zopes XML configuration (ZCML) + TALES templating language16:14
yvland everything built on component architecture16:15
ryanpgok, I understand that better, thanks16:15
yvlthat some people view as extension of python language :)16:15
yvllet's put it like this16:15
ryanpgI was looking at the xml configuration files (just briefly) and it did seem understandable to me16:15
yvlthe main difference between common permision schemes and our implementation16:16
yvlis that usually you have a grid of object/person16:16
yvlthat is essentially composed of checkboxes16:16
ryanpgright that's what I'm familiar with16:16
yvlin our implementation, *some* code is executed when checking for permissions of an object16:17
yvlthat code has a lot of freedom; it may check, for example, how many words there are in section's description16:18
yvlso instead of having a checbox16:18
th1a(that is, as an absurd example)16:18
yvlyes :)16:18
yvlinstead of having a checkbox, you have a function16:19
yvla real life example - Teachers crowd checks if the authentcated person is in "teachers" group16:20
yvlInstructors crowd, when done on a Section object, check if the authenticated person is in section's instructros list16:20
yvland so on16:20
th1aThe very specific case which lead to this design is checking to see if a student has a teacher in any class.16:21
th1aSo it is not "any teacher can see any student."16:22
th1aBut "a teacher may see a student's info *if* they have that student in a class."16:22
ryanpggot it, sounds a lot more powerful than the broad stroke "checkbox" approach16:23
ryanpgbut makes it a lot harder to create an easy to use/understand configuration tool16:24
yvlthat's why we don't have one yet ;)16:24
ryanpgI have an "instant off-the-top-of-my-head" idea :P16:25
yvlby the way, the nearest "web" configuration that we may make some time16:27
yvlis adding checkboxes near the "Access rights" list16:27
th1aThat page needs some love.16:29
th1aActually, I could work on that today...16:29
ryanpgI was imagining a unique kind of semantics kind of configuration interface16:29
ryanpgwith a dropdown menu of choices and options16:30
yvlI must admit it's tempting :)16:30
ryanpg<user/crowd> <can/cannot> <action> <object>16:31
ryanpgso like <ryanpg> <can> <edit> <default calendar>16:31
ryanpgeach variable being selectable by the administrator16:31
ryanpgand that would write a new access rule16:32
ryanpgjust a thought16:32
yvlthanks :)16:32
yvlIt's a place that definitely needs polishing; however - there are other places that need love too :)16:33
yvlI would do it all if I had unlimited time on my hands ;)16:33
yvlso... did you find permissions not flexible for your school in some places?16:34
ryanpgwell, in the short-term, I may have to brush up on my python and do some reading on zope so I can tweak things just for in-house use16:34
yvlor usage scenarios, to be more precise16:34
ryanpgyvl, actually, so far we really haven't gotten into usage much - I'm going to let people start using calendars next week16:35
ryanpgthe only real-world issue yet, is people very much would like to share individual calendars with everyone16:35
ryanpgand have say a "therapy" calendar that can be edited only by therapists, but viewed by all staff16:35
ryanpgwe have a lot... a LOT of "pull out" services where kids are taken from class for groups, individual sessions etc16:36
ryanpgso giving therapists a place to collaboratively schedule, and providing teachers with a visual calendar of that schedule would be amazing16:37
ryanpgI think this is where my mind starts running wild, create an object, and set it's permissions - just like I'm used to doing on good ole linux16:38
ryanpgI'd basically give rwx access to the therapist crowd, and rx access to the teacher crowd16:39
yvlif I remember correctly, Groups have their own calendars16:39
ryanpgyvl, calendars can be shared among groups IIRC16:40
yvl(I just can't check how exactly that works, and I don't have ST instance running...)16:40
ryanpgme either atm - I'm at home16:40
ryanpgyvl, I think it's a broader issue than just calendars though16:40
yvlIIRC, group's members can all edit the calendar16:40
ryanpgbut can that calendar be shared with others outside the group?16:41
ryanpgI think it's a broader issue too... for example:16:41
ryanpgwe have an administrative team of 5 including myself, each member has different responsibilities, i.e. scheduling, enrollment, managing resources16:41
ryanpghaving better more granular control over who can do what would be very nice - *I think* :D16:42
* th1a returns from taking receipt of 10 trees.16:42
ryanpgth1a, I want to order a ton of trees to create a hedgerow at my house :D16:43
th1aI'd just add parenthetically that what one wants to do with permissions in a calendaring system is very different than what one wants to do with the rest of a student information system.16:43
th1aryanpg:  That's pretty much what I'm doing.16:43
ryanpgth1a, why do you say it's different? (a lot of this will be more clear to me once I've actually put it into practice)16:44
th1aWell, you don't want to do "attendance sharing."16:45
ryanpgahh... yes we do16:45
ryanpgwe have a system where each student has a "case manager"16:45
th1aBut attendance sharing is much more structured (legally!) than calendar sharing.16:46
ryanpgbut, that case manager may not have the student in each class, or the student my arrive late, or the student may be on-site but in an intervention16:46
th1aYou don't do "share my attendance []"16:46
th1aIn SchoolTool, case manager  = "advisor," btw.16:46
ryanpghmm... maybe I'm missing something16:47
yvlwell, it's just a different angle really16:47
ryanpgwell, obviously I'm missing a lot - but I'm trying to grasp how it works and how it could be better16:48
th1aI may be just distracting you.16:48
yvlinstead of saying John can look at Pete's private info16:48
yvlwe say "student's advisors" can look at their private info16:48
ryanpgyvl, right and I guess what I'm imagining is a way to be granular about adjusting that16:49
ryanpgso that I can say admin,Pete's-advisor,kathy can edit Pete's attendance16:50
th1aBut you don't have to explicitly say "kathy"16:50
th1aJust Pete's advisor.16:50
th1aWhomever that is.16:50
ryanpgth1a, no in this case (I wasn't clear) Kathy is our administrative assistant16:50
th1aOh..., well, she should be in the "clerk" group then.16:51
ryanpgyes, but we have other "clerks" too, who should not be able to adjust attendance16:51
yvlI see your point16:52
yvlwell, it is possible to achieve what you want16:52
yvlI think you're not afraid to hack a little :)16:52
th1aThat is a pretty weird case, to assign a specific clerk to a specific student.16:53
yvlI guess... the best way to get around this is to look at how roles are defined in your school16:53
th1a(I'm just sayin')16:53
ryanpgth1a, to be more precise Kathy and admin would be able to edit any student's attendance, while advisors would only be able to edit "their" students16:54
th1aYes, that's the way it is designed to work now, more or less.16:54
ryanpgoh man... I'm sorry16:54
th1aAlthough permissions around attendance have not gotten much specific attention.16:55
th1aBasically, your role here may just be to say "I need to do X."16:55
th1aAnd we say, "Oh, we designed it to do that!  But in the end set a few bits wrong and now we'll fix them."16:55
ryanpghmm... ok16:56
th1aAnd also write more documentation.  ;-)16:56
yvlyes, that would be really helpful16:56
yvlmore or less this is how SchoolTool evolved so far16:56
ryanpgwell, I can tone it down a bit then sure - I understand this is a big project with a long history16:56
ryanpgI get invested quickly, I'm thinking beyond just "I need to do X" please?16:57
ryanpgI'm thinking - here's something that could make this program great - or am I wrong please? lol :P16:57
th1aYes, I should just shut up and let yvl explain more of the technical aspects.16:57
ryanpgth1a, no no... I've been involved in many other OSS projects, I understand the feeling of ownership that comes with putting so much blood, sweat and tears into the software16:58
ryanpgit's tough for developers to listen to some "new guy" make all kinds of major feature requests etc., I'm fine with filtering out the nonsense I may bring to the discussion :)16:59
ryanpgI very very much appreciate you guys listening and helping me understand... thank you!16:59
yvlnah - we just need to get on the same page :)17:00
yvlyou don't nknow the insides of ST yet, and we don't know how your school is run... :)17:00
th1aI'm happy.  :-)17:00
th1ayvl:  Why don't you do a little more zcml 101.17:00
ryanpgyvl, you're exactly right - it's amazing that we're all happy to learn :)17:00
ryanpgth1a, actually... maybe we should wait for the nitty-gritty on zcml till I'm in front of a ST installation17:01
yvlit may take a *while* (and I don't know where to start :) )17:01
yvlyou know what..17:01
yvlryanpg, can you send us some...17:02
ryanpgis there a VM version of ST?17:02
yvldescriptions of how you'd need your access rights set17:02
ryanpgyvl, ok yes17:02
yvlI mean real life scenarios17:03
yvl"we need Cathy to be able to put grades", etc.17:03
ryanpgabsolutely... as th1a says "I need to do X" cases.17:03
yvland if it makes sense to tweak your ST17:04
yvlas in - write code17:04
yvlI'll be really happy to show you where and why ;)17:04
ryanpgrigh, if you are willing and available I can get some insight into how to do it... yes thanks17:04
ryanpgif things work well, and you like the ideas, maybe some can get rolled back into ST too17:05
yvlit is OSS :)17:05
ryanpglol, but... and this is a little OT17:05
ryanpgI really have worked with developers on several projects where major changes have resulted - OSS has all the same management challenges of any other project17:06
ryanpgknow my "crowd" and my "permissions" lol17:06
ryanpgyou yvl and th1a are the experts, I will feel good if even a small percentage of my input is helpful17:07
ryanpgI mean, beyond to myself and my school17:07
th1aJust letting us know specifically when SchoolTool's permission don't match your expectations is helpful.17:08
ryanpgwell, I'm grateful for the time you guys have given me today, I've got a good idea of how to move forward17:08
yvlI'll eagerly await your e-mail ;)17:09
yvland thanks for the interest, again :)17:09
ryanpgI think for my first "I need to do X" assignment, I'll describe the calendar situation better. Good place to start?17:09
yvlyeah, sounds right :)17:10
yvljust don't dwelve into it too much17:10
ryanpggreat, th1a thanks for facilitating the meeting17:10
yvlbelieve me, I've been there - and there's a lot that can specifically be done to improve them :)17:11
ryanpgyvl, yeah I'll just outline the issue and you'll tell me if it's even realistic to address it17:11
ryanpgor if it's already addressed, and I just missed it17:11
yvlI think that will get us fastest to something "real" ;)17:12
yvl(and by real I mean code ;) )17:12
ryanpgyvl excellent17:13
ryanpgok, signing off, I'll probably be back Monday (I'm on-site and usually swamped though - so who knows)17:14
ryanpgthanks again th1a17:14
ryanpgthanks yvl17:14
yvlthanks ryanpg :)17:14
yvlsee you around :)17:14
ryanpgyou too, bye :)17:15
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replaceafillth1a, could you please remind me of
* replaceafill has long-term memory leaks...22:18
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