OpenACS Release Notes

Release 5.9.0

  • The release of OpenACS 5.9.0 contains the 78 packages of the oacs-5-9 branch. These packages include the OpenACS core packages, the major application packages (e.g. most the ones used on, and DotLRN 2.9.0.

  • Summary of changes:

    • SQL:

      • Improved performance of acs-object deletion.

      • Replaced many manual referential integrity calls by built-in handing in PostgreSQL.

      • Removed various manual bookkeeping and deletion operations in the content repository by built-in handing in PostgreSQL.

      • Removed tree_sortkey on acs-objects to reduce its size and to speedup operations, where the context-id is changed (could take on large installation several minutes in earlier versions)

      • Removed several uncalled / redundant SQL statements and functions.

      • Cleanup of .xql files in acs-subsite:

        • Some cleanup of .xql files: removed misleading sql-statements from db_* calls, which were ignored due .xql files

        • Removed bug where same query-name was used in different branches of an if-statement for different sql statements, but the query-name lead to the wrong result.

        • Removed multiple entries of same query name from .xql files (e.g. the entry "package_create_attribute_list.select_type_info" was 7 (!) times in a single .xql file)

    • Web Interface:

      • Improve Performance of WebSites created with OpenACS: e.g. move core.js to a body requests, provide kernel parameter ResourcesExpireInterval to specify expiration times for resources.

      • Much better protection against XSS attacks.

      • Improved HTML validity (especially for admin pages)

      • Improved admin interface:

        • Placed all installation options to a single page.

        • Added pagination to /admin/applications (was unusable for large sites)

        • New admin pages for subsites linked from site-wide-admin package (/acs-admin).

        • Added explanatory text to several admin pages.

      • Add lightweight support for ckeditor4 for templating::richtext widget (configurable via package parameter "RichTextEditor" of acs-templating. ckeditor4 supports mobile devices (such as iPad, ...)

    • Templating:

      • Improved theme-ability: Moved more information into theme packages in order to create responsive designs, reduce hard-coding of paths, HTML etc.

      • Improved include-handling: All includes are now theme-able, interfaces of includes can be defined with "ad_include_contract" (similar to ad_page_contract).

      • Improved them-ability for display_templates. One can now provide a display_template_name (similar to the sql statement name) to refer to display templates. This enables reusability and is theme-able.

      • Dimensional slider reform (ad_dimensional): Removed hard-coded table layout from dimensional slider. Add backwards compatible templates Move hard-coded styles into theme styling

      • Notification chunks are now theme-able as well (using ad_include_contrat)

      • Complete template variable suffixes (adding noi18n, addressing bug #2692, full list is now: noquote, noi18n, literal)

      • Added timeout and configurable secrets for signed url parameters to export_vars/page_contracts. This can be used to secure sensitive operations such as granting permissions since a link can be set to timeout after e.g. 60 seconds; after that, the link is invalid. A secret (password) can be set in section ns/server/$server/acs parameter "parametersecret". For example, one can use now "user_id:sign(max_age=60)" in export_vars to let the exported variable expire after 60 seconds.

    • Misc:

      • Added ability to show ns_log statements of current request to developer support output when developer support is activated (controlled via package parameter "TclTraceLogServerities" in the acs-tcl package parameters)

      • Added ability to save data sent by ns_return in files on the file system. This can be used to validate HTML content also for password protected pages (controlled via package parameter "TclTraceSaveNsReturn" in the acs-tcl package parameters)

      • New api function "ad_log" having the same interface as ns_log, but which logs the calling information (like URL and call-stack) to ease tracking of errors.

      • Use per-thread caching to reduce number of mutex lock operations and lock contention on various caches (util-memoize, xo_site_nodes, xotcl_object_types) and nsvs (e.g ds_properties)

      • Improved templating of OpenACS core documentation

      • Improved Russian Internationalization

      • Make pretty-names of acs-core packages more consistent

      • Mark unused functions of acs-tcl/tcl/table-display-procs.tcl as deprecated

      • Many more bug fixes (from bug tracker and extra) and performance improvements.

      • Version numbers:

        • Require PG 9.0 (End Of Life of PostgreSQL 8.4 was July 2014)

        • Require XOTcl 2.0 (presented at the Tcl conference in 2011).

    • Changes in application packages:

      • Various bug fixes and improvements for e.g. file-storage, forums, news, notifications, xowiki.

Altogether, OpenACS 5.9.0 differs from OpenACS 5.8.1 by the following statistics

      3658 files changed, 120800 insertions(+), 97617 deletions(-)

contributed by 4 committers (Michael Aram, Victor Guerra, Gustaf Neumann, Antonio Pisano) and patch/bugfix providers (Frank Bergmann, Andrew Helsley, Felix Mödritscher, Marcos Moser, Franz Penz, Thomas Renner). These are significantly more changes as the differences in the last releases. All packages of the release were tested with PostgreSQL 9.4.* and Tcl 8.5.*. For more details, consult the raw ChangeLog.

Release 5.8.1

  • The release contains the 78 packages of the oacs-5-8 branch. These packages contain the OpenACS core packages, major application packages (e.g. most the ones used on, and DotLRN.

  • All packages have the following properties:

    • SQL:

      • All packages are PostgreSQL 9.1+ compatible (tested with PostgreSQL 9.3)

      • All SQL files with stored procedures use the recommended $$ quoting

      • All SQL-functions have regular function arguments instead of the old-style aliases

      • The function_args() (query-able meta-data) are completed and fixed

      • Incompatible functions (e.g. for sequences) are replaced.

    • Tcl:

      • All packages were brought up Tcl 8.5, including the actual Tcl idioms where appropriate (e.g. using the safer expand operator, range indices, dict, lassign, etc.)

      • The code was updated to prefer byte-compiled functions instead of legacy functions from ancient Tcl versions.

      • The code works with NaviServer and AOLserver.

    • API:

      • All packages are free from calls to deprecated code (157 functions are marked as deprecated and will be moved into an "outdated" package in the 5.9 or 6.0 release)

      • General overhaul of package management

      • Install-from-local and install-from-repository can be used to install the provided packages based on a acs-core installation. This means that also DotLRN can be installed from repository or from local into an existing OpenACS instance.

      • Install-from-repository offers filtering functions, allows to install optionally from head-channel (for packages not in the base channel of the installed instance). Install-from-repository works more like an app-store, showing as well vendor information

      • Packages can be equipped with xml-based configuration files (e.g. changing parameters for style packages)

      • Package developers can upload .apm packages via workflow for review by core members and for inclusion to the repository. The option is integrated with package management, the link is offered for local packages. We hope to attract additional vendors (universities, companies) to make their packages available on this path.

      • New management-functions for package instances (list, create, delete package instances)

      • Substantially improved API browser:

        • Show just relevant parts of .xql files for a function

        • Provide syntax-highlighting for www scripts as well

        • Handle more special cases like e.g. util_memoize

        • Provide links to Tcl functions depending on the installed Tcl version

        • Provide links to NaviServer or OpenACS functions depending on installed version

        • Syntax highlighter uses CSS rather than hard-coded markup

        • Significant performance improvement for large installations

Altogether, OpenACS 5.8.1 differs from OpenACS 5.8.0 in about 100,000 modifications (6145 commits) contributed by 5 committers.

Release 5.8.0

  • Compatibility with PostgreSQL 9.2: The new version installs without any need for special parameter settings in new PostgreSQL versions. This makes it easier to use e.g. shared or packaged PostgreSQL installations.

  • Compatibility with NaviServer 4.99.5 or newer

  • Performance and scalability improvements

  • Various bug fixes

Altogether, OpenACS 5.8.0 differs from OpenACS 5.7.0 in more than 18.000 modifications (781 commits) contributed by 7 committers.

Release 5.7.0

  • Made changes that extend acs-kernel's create_type and create_attribute procs, so they're optionally able to create sql tables and columns. Optional metadata params allow for the automatic generation of foreign key references, check exprs, etc.

Release 5.6.0

  • Added new package dependency type, "embeds". This is a variant of the "extends" package dependency type added in OpenACS 5.5.0. It allows one to write embeddable packages, with scripts made visible in client packages using URLs which include the embedded package's package key. An example embeddable package might be a rewritten "attachments" package. The current implementation requires a global instance be mounted, and client packages generate urls to that global instance. Among other things, this leads to the user navigating to the top-level subsite, losing any subsite theming that might be associated with a community. Using "embeds", a rewritten package would run in the client package's context, maintaining theming and automatically associating attachments with the client package.

    Added global package parameters - parameters can now have scope "local" or "global", with "local" being the default..

    Fixes for ns_proxy handling

    Significant speedup for large sites

    Optional support for selenium remote control (acs-automated-tests)

    New administration UI to manage mime types and extension map

    Added acs-mail-lite package params for rollout support

    Support for 3-chars language codes in acs-lang

    Added OOXML mime types in acs-content-repository

Release 5.5.0

  • PostgreSQL 8.3 is now fully supported, including the use of the built-in standard version of tsearch2.

    TinyMCE has been upgraded to with language pack support.

    acs-mail-lite now correctly implements rollout support.

    Added new package dependency type, "extends". Implements a weak form of package inheritance (parameters and, optionally, templates). Multiple inheritance is supported. For instance, the non-core "layout-managed-subsite" extends the "acs-subsite" and "layout-manager" packages, resulting in a package that combines the semantics of both.

    Added new package attribute "implements-subsite-p" (default "f"). If true, this package may be mounted as a subsite and is expected to implement subsite semantics. Typically used by packages which extend acs-subsite.

    Added new package attribute "inherit-templates-p" (default "t"). If true, the package inherits templates defined in the packages it extends. This means that the package only needs to specify templates where the UI of an extended package is modified or extended. This greatly reduces the need to fork base packages when one needs to customize it. Rather than modify the package directly, use "extends" rather than "requires" then rewrite those templates you need to customize.

    Added a simple mechanism for defining subsite themes, removing the hard-wired choices implemented in earlier versions of OpenACS. The default theme has been moved into a new package, "openacs-default-theme". Simplifies the customization of the look and feel of OpenACS sites and subsites.

    The install xml facility has been enhanced to allow the calling of arbitrary Tcl procedures and includes various other enhancements written by Xarg. Packages can extend the facility, too. As an example of what can be done, the configuration of .LRN communities could be moved from a set of interacting parameters to a cleaner XML description of how to build classes and clubs, etc.

    Notifications now calls lang::util::localize on the message subject and body before sending the message out, using the recipient locale if set, the site-wide one if not. This will cause message keys (entered as <span>#</span>....# strings) to be replaced with the language text for the chosen locale.

Release 5.4.2

  • This is a minor bugfix release.

    Site node caching was removed as doesn't work correctly

    Critical issues with search on oracle were fixed

    More html strict work etc

Release 5.4.1

  • This is a minor bugfix release.

Release 5.4.0

  • New Templating API added to add scripts, css, etc to the HTML HEAD and BODY sections of the generated HTML document. Please see /packages/acs-templating/tcl/head-procs.tcl or visit the template::head procs in the API browser for details.

    Templates have been modified to comply with HTML strict

    The Search package's results page has been improved

    TinyMCE WYSIWYG support has been added, RTE and HTMLArea support dropped

    acs-mail-lite's send has been cleaned up to properly encode content, to handle file attachments, etc. "complex-send" will disappear from acs-core in a future release.

The ChangeLogs include an annotated list of changes (???) since the last release and in the entire 5.9 release sequence ???.

Release 5.3.1

  • Bug fixes.

    New TIPs implemented.

    All Core Automated Tests for Postgres pass.

    New Site and Blank master templates and CSS compatible with the .LRN Zen work. Compatibility master templates are provided for existing sites.

The ChangeLogs include an annotated list of changes (???) since the last release and in the entire 5.9 release sequence ???.

Release 5.3.0

  • Bug fixes.

    New TIPs implemented.

    All Core Automated Tests for Postgres pass.

Release 5.2.0

  • Bug fixes.

    New TIPs implemented.

    This release does not include new translations.

Release 5.1.4

  • Bug fixes.

    The missing CR Tcl API has been filled in, thanks to Rocael and his team and Dave Bauer.

    This release does not include new translations.

Release 5.1.3

  • Bug fixes, primarily for .LRN compatibility in support of upcoming .LRN 2.1.0 releases. This release does not include new translations since 5.1.2.

Release 5.1.2

  • Translations syncronized with the translation server. Basque and Catalan added.

  • For a complete change list, see the Change list since 5.1.0 in ???.

Release 5.1.1

  • This is the first release using the newest adjustment to the versioning convention. The OpenACS 5.1.1 tag will apply to OpenACS core as well as to the most recent released version of every package, including .LRN.

  • Translations syncronized with the translation server.

  • Bug 1519 fixed. This involved renaming all catalog files for ch_ZH, TH_TH, AR_EG, AR_LB, ms_my, RO_RO, FA_IR, and HR_HR. If you work with any of those locales, you should do a full catalog export and then import (via /acs-lang/admin) after upgrading acs-lang. (And, of course, make a backup of both the files and database before upgrading.)

  • Other bug fixes since 5.1.0: 1785, 1793, and over a dozen additional bug fixes.

  • For a complete change list, see the Change list since 5.0.0 in ???.

Release 5.1.0

  • Lots of little tweaks and fixes

  • Complete Change list since 5.0.0 in Changelog

  • Many Bug fixes

Release 5.0.4

  • New translations, including for .LRN 2.0.2.

Release 5.0.1

  • All work on the translation server from 7 Nov 2003 to 7 Feb 2004 is now included in catalogs.

  • One new function in acs-tcl, util::age_pretty

  • Complete Change list since 5.0.0 in Changelog

  • Many documentation updates and doc bug fixes

Release 5.0.0

This is OpenACS 5.0.0. This version contains no known security, data loss, or crashing bugs, nor any bugs judged release blockers. This version has received manual testing. It has passed current automated testing, which is not comprehensive. This release contains work done on the translation server through 7 Nov 2003.

Please report bugs using our Bug Tracker at the OpenACS website.

You may want to begin by reading our installation documentation for the section called “a Unix-like system”. Note that the Windows documentation is not current for OpenACS 5.9.0, but an alternative is to use John Sequeira's Oasis VM project.

After installation, the full documentation set can be found by visiting http://yourserver/doc.

New features in this release:

  • Internationalization support. A message catalog to store translated text, localization of dates, number formatting, timezone conversion, etc. Allows you to serve your users in their language.

  • External authenticaiton. Integrate with outside user databases through e.g. LDAP, RADIUS, Kerberos, MS Active Directory. Imports user information through IMS Enterprise 1.1 format. Easily extended to support other authentication, password management, account creation, and account import mechanisms. This includes improvements to the basic cookie handling, so logins can be expired without the user's identity being completely lost. You can set login to expire after a certain period (e.g. 8 hours, then password must be refreshed), or you can have all issues login cookies expired at once, e.g. if you have left a permanent login cookie on a public machine somewhere.

  • User interface enhancements. All pages, including site-wide and subsite admin pages, will be templated, so they can be styled using master template and site-wide stylesheets. We have a new default-master template, which includes links to administration, your workspace, and login/logout, and is rendered using CSS. And there's a new community template (/packages/acs-subsite/www/group-master), which provides useful navigation to the applications and administrative UI in a subsite. In addition, there's new, simpler UI for managing members of a subsite, instantiating and mounting applications, setting permissions, parameters, etc. Site-wide admin as also seen the addition of a new simpler software install UI to replace the APM for non-developer users, and improved access to parameters, internationalization, automated testing, service contracts, etc. The list builder has been added for easily generating templated tables and lists, with features such as filtering, sorting, actions on multiple rows with checkboxes, etc. Most of all, it's fast to use, and results in consistently-looking, consistently-behaving, templated tables.

  • Automated testing. The automated testing framework has been improved significantly, and there are automated tests for a number of packages.

  • Security enhancements. HTML quoting now happens in the templating system, greatly minimizing the chance that users can sneak malicious HTML into the pages of other users.

  • Oracle 9i support.

  • Who's online feature.

  • Spell checking.

Potential incompatibilities:

  • With the release of OpenACS 5, PostgreSQL 7.2 is no longer supported. Upgrades are supported from OpenACS 4.6.3 under Oracle or PostgreSQL 7.3.

  • The undocumented special handling of ~ and +variable+ in formtemplates, found in packages/acs-templating/resources/*, has been removed in favor of using <noparse> and \@variable\@ (the standard templating mechanisms). Locally provided formtemplate styles still using these mechanisms will break.

  • Serving backup files and files from the CVS directories is turned off by default via the acs-kernel parameter ExcludedFiles in section request-processor (The variable provides a string match glob list of files and is defaulted to "*/CVS/* *~")

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