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Filtered by popular tag 5.9.1, 1 - 3 of 3 Postings (all, summary)


Created by Dave Bauer, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 20 Mar 2017, at 02:56 PM

Release Status

See openacs-release-status

Development is taking place in the oacs-5.9 branch, will switch to HEAD soon

OpenACS Version 5.10.0 Agenda/wish list

  • registry for .js and .css libaries: allow besides classical urls symbolic names for loading external resources (e.g. jquery), this would make it easier to upgrade  libraries in multiple packages (without running into problems with duplicate versions) or switching between CDN and local paths
  • dynamic reloading reform, including support for scheduled procedures
  • say farewell to CVS
  • Data bloat hygiene:
    • rethink package parameter and portlet parameter data models
    • parameters: include "subsite-parameters" in parameter resolution (package->subsite->global)
  • require Tcl 8.6, XOTcl 2.1, PostgreSQL 9.2


OpenACS Version 5.9.1 Agenda

  • Refactoring of rich-text editor integration
    • Driving force: Debian packaging
    • we have now the new packages
      • richtext-xinha
      • richtext-tinymce
      • richtext-ckeditor4 (has ability to choose between CDN and local installation via GUI)
  • Theme manager:
    • Goals:
      • Make it easier to keep track of themes with local modifications
      • Make it easier to create local modification a new themes and to update these
      • Show differences between default theme parameter (in DB) and actual settings (in subsite parameters)
      • Allow to delete unused themes
      • Give site admin hints, which theme is used at which subsite
      • Ease theme switching
    • Added support for these features under subsite admin (/admin/)
  • SQL:
    • Further cleanup of .xql files (like what as done for acs-subsite in 5.9.0)
      • so far, 36 files deleted
      • removed more than 100 obsolete named queries
      • stripped misleading SQL statements
    • Mark redundant / uncalled sql functions as deprecated
    • Remove type discrepancy introduced in 2002:
      • acs_object_types.object_type has type varchar(1000), while
      • acs_object_types.supertype has type varchar(100)
      • ... several more data types are involved, using acs_object_types.object_type as foreign key
    • Replace usages of obsolete view "all_object_party_privilege_map" by "acs_object_party_privilege_map"
    • Simplify core sql functions by using defaults
      • Number of functions reduced by a factor of 2 compared to OpenACS 5.9.0 (while providing compatibility for clients using old versions),
      • reduced code redundancy
      • Affected functions:
        • reduced content_item__new from 12 versions to 6,
        • reduce content_revision__new from 7 to 4
        • similar in image__new, image__new_revision, content_item__copy, content_item__get_title, content_item__move
    • PG 9.5 supports named parameter in the same syntax as in Oracle. Further reduction of variants will be possible, once OpenACS requires at least pg 9.5
    • Modernize SQL
      • use real Boolean types instead of character(1)
        (done for new-portal, forums, faq, attachments, categories, dotlrn, dotlrn-forums, evaluation)
      • use real enumeration types rather than check constraints (done for storage type text/file/lob)
  • CR hygienics (reduce cr bloat)
    • Provide means to avoid insert/update/delete operations in the search queue: OpenACS adds for every new revision often multiple entries to the search_queue, without providing any means to prevent this. This requires for busy sites very short intervals between queue sweeps (otherwise too many entries pile up). Another consequence is that this behavior keeps the PostgreSQL auto-vacuum daemons permanently active. Many of these operations are useless in cases where the content repository is used for content that should not be provided via search. The changed behavior should honors a publish-date set to the future, since it will not add any content with future publish dates to the search-queue.
    • Insert into cr_child_rels just when needed. cr_child_rels provide only little benefit (allow to use roles in a child-rel), but the common operation is a well available in cr_items via the parent_id. cr_child_rels do not help for recursive queries either. One option would be to add an additional argument for content_item__new to omit child-rel creation (default is old behavior) and adapt the other cases.
  • Security improvements:
    • improve protection against XSS and SQL-injection
    • add support against CSRF (cross site request forgery)
      • make CSRF support optional for packages where CSRF is less dangerous (e.g. search and api-browser)
    • support for W3C "Upgrade-Insecure-Headers" (see
    • support for W3C "Subresource Integrity" (SRI; see
    • support for W3C "Content Security Policy" (CSP; see
      • remove "javascript:*" links (all such urls are removed from the 90 packages in oacs-5-9, excluding js libraries (ajaxhelper) and richtext code)
      • remove "onclick", "onfocus", "onblur", "onchange" handlers from all .adp and .tcl files in the 90 packages in oacs-5-9 (excluding js libraries (ajaxhelper) and richtext code)
      • added optional nonces to all <script> elements with literal JavaScript content
  • Improved Internationalization
    • Russian (thanks to v v)
    • Italian (thanks to Antonio Pisano)
    • Spanish (thanks to Héctor Romojaro)
    • German (thanks to Markus Moser)
  • Finalize cleanup of permissions:
    • Get rid of acs_object_context_index (and therefore on acs_object_party_privilege_map as well) on PostgreSQL
      • huge table,
      • expensive maintenance, used only in a few places,
      • don't damage Oracle


OpenACS Version 5.9.0 Agenda

  • Slimming pg SQL core:
    • Part 1: improve performance of object deletion
      • remove manual delete operations from acs_object__delete()
    • Part 2: content-repository - manual referential integrity management
      • handle referential integrity via pg's integrity constraints rather by functions cr_revision_del_ri_tr, cr_revision_ins_ri_tr, cr_revision_up_ri_tr, cr_revision_del_rev_ri_tr, and cr_revision_del_rev_ri_tr
      • fix broken/missing upgrade scripts from earlier updates
    • Part 3: content-repository - manual deletions and nulling
      • Removed manual nulling of live_revision and latest_revision
      • Removed manual deletion of old_revision and new_revision in cr_item_publish_audit
      • Removed manual deletion of item_id in cr_item_publish_audit, cr_release_periods, cr_item_template_map, and cr_item_keyword_map
      • Removed manual deletion of direct permissions
      • Added missing index for child_id to cr_child_rels.
    • Part 4: get rid of tree_sortkey in acs-objects
      • Check/fix dependencies in oacs-5-8 packages
      • Get rid of broken/uncalled functions using the column
      • Check/fix dependencies in other packages
      • Remove tree_sortkey and max_child_sortkey
  • Web interface:
    • Improve client performance
      • moving core.js from head to body
      • provide kernel parameter to control expiration date for /resources/
    • Protect against more XSS attacks
    • Improved HTML validity (see oacs-5-9-html-validity for the checklist)
    • Add lightweight support for ckeditor4 for templating::richtext widget (configurable via package parameter "RichTextEditor" of acs-templating. ckeditor4 supports mobile devices (such as iPad, ...).
    • New kernel parameter ResourcesExpireInterval to control expiration dates of resources
  • Templating:
    • Improve theme-ability
      • Move more information into theme packages in order to create responsive designs
      • Reduce hard-coding of paths, HTML etc.
    • Dimensional slider reform (ad_dimensional):
      • Remove hard-coded table layout from dimensional slider
      • Add backwards compatible templates
      • Move hard-coded styles into theme styling
      • Remove obsolete comments from ad_dimensional
    • Complete template variable controls (adding noi18n, addressing bug #2692):
      • @foo@: perform html quoting and internationalization
      • @foo;noquote@: perform internationalization
      • @foo;noi18n@: perform html quoting
      • @foo;literal@: perform neither html quoting nor internationalization
    • Improved Russian nationalization
    • Support of expiration dates and passwords for signed variables
  • Documentation:
    • Use ACS templating for the (static) OpenACS documentation to provide a more consistent layout and user experience.
    • Make pretty-naming of acs-core packages more consistent.
  • Misc improvements:
    • Mark unused functions of acs-tcl/tcl/table-display-procs.tcl as deprecated
    • Reduce number of muxtex locks by pre-request and per-thread caching
    • Improved development und debugging aids:
      • use "ad_log error|warning  .... " instead of "ns_log" to include information of request and callstack in error.log
      • ability to display ns_log entries caused by a request in ds-footer
      • ability to save delivered web pages in file-system for testing HTML validity (especially for admin pages, which are unaccessible for external validity testers)
    • More bug fixes
  • 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).

OpenACS Version 5.8 Agenda

  • PostgreSQL 9.2+:
    • Get rid of nonstandard backslash escapes in function definitions
    • Change quote syntax in sql files (single quotes around the functions) to recommended PostgreSQL quoting using (recommended since pg8.0, jan 2005). li>Drop aliases in favor of named function arguments (recommended since pg8.0)
    • Fix wrong function_args, add missing function_args, align default semantics with the defaults in pg (providing "null" as default means the argument is optional)
    • Make OpenACS loadable without any tweaks in the pg config files
  • Use recursive queries for e.g. permission lookup to avoid performance problems in pg 8.4 and newer)
  • ADP: Use byte-compiled function wherever possible in compiled adp-code, support "@var;literal@" when neither quotes nor localization is needed in compiled adp-code
  • Improve support of NaviServer
  • Switch to Tcl 8.5 (TIP #143)
  • Improve scalability: Reduce mutex-stress on util-memoize cache and for cache maintenance in general
  • Code cleanup:
    • Get rid of calls to deprecated code (e.g. ad_tables, ad_parameter, ... in acs-core and main packages)
    • Improve awareness of usage of deprecated code (complain to error.log)
    • Use Tcl 8.5 idioms
    • cleanup of various http-client approaches and introduce a common implementation util::http::get and util::http::post; get rid of other usages, mark these as deprecated
    • page-contracts: Perform checking of all ids in acs-core and main packages to improve error messages and to improve security
  • OpenACS 5.8.1 should be released with main packages

OpenACS Version 5.7 Agenda

  • Support for object management in core 
  • Postgresql 9.0
  • TinyMCE update (fix for random JS injection issue, affecting Safari)
  • Fix for "remember me" issue
  • WCAG2-AA

OpenACS Version 5.6 Agenda

  • global parameters
  • package "embeds" 
  • fix search by package_id
  • core works on Postgresql 8.4

OpenACS Version 5.5 Agenda

  • DONE: Postgresql 8.3 support: especially regarding tsearch2
  • DONE: acs-authentication:
    • fix upgrade, add conditional logic into site wide tcl library so that you can login to perform the rest of the upgrade
  • DONE: tinymce:
    • upgrade to 3.1.1 + language packs
    • HTML Strict cleanup
    • create appropriate parameters for its config in acs-templating
  • acs-mail-lite:
    • DONE: cleanup duplicated procs (bounce)
    • review the parsing of bouncing messages (case user_id 0)
    • DONE: rollout support
  • Documentation improvements as discussed at the Guatemala conference:
    • Make current source for static files included in the release and provide ease means to achieve this for the release manager
      • DONE (CVS HEAD): Provide in XoWiki an alternative table of contents by nested UL/LI (without JavaScript) for static output
      • DONE (CVS HEAD): Provide in XoWiki a prototype page similar to "book" without edit-buttons etc., using the new table of contents
    • Update where necessary (incomplete list):
      • DONE: Fix the page ordering for the higher chapters (the original document  had no 3rd. level numbering)
      • update pages in /test-doc which are more recent in openacs/xowiki
      • bump version numbers of OpenACS, where appropriate (some places talk about openacs-5-0, others about openacs-5-1, oacs-5-2-3rc1 or 5-3) 
      • some version numbers of the required components are quite a mess. e.g. some parts say that Postgres 7.3 is required,  some examples talks about postgres 7.4.7 and 8.2.4 in the same listing.
      • also the dotlrn version numbers are old dotrln-2.0
      • Tcl version numbers should be 8.4.19
      • The install section for XOTcl is missing in II.3.4
      • remove ChangeLog from documentation
      • find some other prominent place for the ChangeLog
      • Fix indenting in examples  (e.g. in Rocael's robust web    development framework)
      • overthink Win2000 guidelines.  There are the native compiled packages from Maurizio, including everything from postgres, xotcl ....
    • It is desired to find a single person responsible for overworking the documentation, however, funding is unclear.

OpenACS Version 5.4 Agenda

  • DONE: HTML Strict (openacs core)
  • DONE: finish template::head (daveb)
  • DONE: test acs-mail-lite (complex send)
  • DONE: test notifications (complex send)
  • DONE: new XinHA release, get rid of RTE & HTMLarea, test on Safari
  • DONE: Form builder: add the ID attribute  to the form tag
  • DONE: acs-lang - keepLocalTranslationP to be removed
  • DONE search and intermedia-driver: move intermedia specific stuff to its package
  • DONE: acs-mail-lite - patch for mime::qp_encode bug


  • Split Xinha and TinyMCE into seperate packages see:
  • Usability ("my account" page)
  • XHTML ?
  • Testing and documentation for recording automated tests using the firefox plugin and the upload feature for it new in automated testing. Probably needs some polishing and should be talked to with Quest who are getting into this.
  • Parameter Scope Patch 
  • Remove obsolete master template stuff (default and site master template in openacs-4/www, acs-subsite's group-master, and related CSS and images).  Probably in the version which follows 5.5 (probably 5.6).  Also remove the compat master stuff at the same time.

Things to merge into this page

Old 5.0 Roadmap  discussion 

Roadmap discussion 1 

 [Ideas for Boston 2006 Future of OpenACS discussion]

My previous attempt at collaborative roadmap 

A .LRN Roadmap 

Another .LRN Roadmap discussion 


What's on this page?

This page should include work that is planned on and has someone comitted to working on it.

Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF)

Created by Gustaf Neumann, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 05 Feb 2017, at 12:44 PM

Starting with OpenACS 5.9.1, OpenACS offers support for protecting against Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF). In essence, this attack can cause a user’s web browser to perform an unwanted action on a trusted site for which the user is currently authenticated. The user gets a page presented, which looks harmless, but contains links or images that perform actions with the users credentials without the users consent. Note that the CSP does not protect a user against clicks on a malicious link.

CSRF protection works by ensuring that values for an action (e.g. by from a HTML form) are only accepted from a user that has received the form before. OpenACS generates by its security-procs a secure CSRF token value and provides it to a developer it in a global variable ::__csp_nonce. When requests secured with the CSRF token are received, it can be validated on the server side. Note, that this mechanism is similar to "signing" values in OpenACS.

CSRF protection concerns of two parts: add the CSRF token to the form (POST requests) or to the href, and checking the received in the queries expecting input from CSRF protected resources. The first part works technically quite similar as securing CSP via nonces. Add code to the Tcl or ADP page that outputs the global variable (the test for the token is mostly for backwards compatibility)

    <form ...>
        <if @::__csrf_token@ defined>
           <input type="hidden" name="__csrf_token" value="@::__csrf_token;literal@">

Secondly, the page contract on the receiving side has to validate the csrf token. This can be achieved by adding a call to csrf::validate to the validation part of a page contract.

ad_page_contract {
    @author ...
    @creation-date ...
} -query {
} -validate {
   csrf { csrf::validate }

In the code base of OpenACS, CSRF protection was added on several places (e.g. public pages, the list template, etc.) such the checks of OpenACS sites on vulnerability scanners improve. Technically, it would be desirable to secure more places against CSRF attacks in the future. However, it depends on the requirements of a site whether or not e.g. the API browser or search should be CSRF protected. Withe protection turned on, one cannot share e.g. a link to a search with some other user (or a search engine). A site admin has to decide, how protected/public such links should be.

Content Security Policy (CSP)

Created by Gustaf Neumann, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 05 Feb 2017, at 12:42 PM

Starting with version 5.9.1, OpenACS supports Content Security Policies (CSP), which is a means to secure websites against a range of Cross Side Scripting (XSS) attacks. In short, a CSP allows a developer to deactivate unneeded features in the browser of the client to provide there a sandbox with the minimum required capabilities. It can allow e.g. just to retrieve .js files just form certain sites, or it can disallow script tags within the page, which might be injected by an attacker (for a more detailed introduction and tutorial, see CSP Reference , Google Developer Guide for CSP ).

In general, a CSP defines the rules what should be allowed in a page. This could be done static for the whole page, but this means that the CSP rules must allow everything which is needed on a page with the highest requirements (e.g. a page with a richtext editor needs probably a script-src 'unsafe-eval' directive). This could render CSP pretty useless.

Therefore, OpenACS supports a CSP generator, which generates a CSP rule-set for every page dynamically based on the requirements of the page. A web developer can specify the requirements of a page/proc with the command security::csp::require . For example, the current OpenACS theme uses in its plain-master the following directives.

security::csp::require img-src

security::csp::require style-src
security::csp::require script-src

security::csp::require font-src 'self'
security::csp::require font-src

Based on the directives of the pages and the directives of the master templates, the security policy of the pages is built (typically in the blank-master). For example, the content security policy of the start page of OpenACS is

default-src 'self';
font-src 'self' data:;
img-src 'self';
report-uri /SYSTEM/csp-collector.tcl;
script-src 'self' 'nonce-49DBB4A924EA648C3025F7DD8C2553DC0EC700D1';
style-src 'self' 'unsafe-inline';

With this CSP, gets an A+ rating from .

Per default, the content security policies are turned on. All packages of the oacs-5-9 branch can be used with the enabled content security policies. However, when a website contains legacy code using JavaScript, for which no content security policies are defined, this will result into non-functioning pages. Therefore, a website administrator can set the package parameter CSPEnabledP (in the package parameters of ACS Kernel in "security" section) to "0" to deactivate the CSP.

For Developers

In order to make old packages (not included in the oacs-5-9 branch) or newly developed packages CSP compliant, one should be aware that all inline code is considered harmful. This includes <script> elements, but also "javascript:" URIs or on* event handlers.

<script> Elements

The CSP guidelines recommend to replace the such elements in favor of JavaScript files obtained from the same source as the page itself. However, this is not always practical, especially, when JavaScript is generated dynamically. In such cases, two approaches are possible to make the script tag acceptable (without allowing all scripts on the page). CSP 2 offers the ability to add nonces or cryptographic hashes to secure this elements. OpenACS supports the first approach.

A nonce value is essentially a one-time value which can't be predicted by an attacker. OpenACS generates by its security-procs such as value and saves it in a global variable ::__csp_nonce. This can be used in the Tcl code or in an ADP page like in the following example:

<script language="JavaScript" 
   <if @::__csp_nonce@ not nil> nonce="@::__csp_nonce;literal@"</if>

Event handlers and "javascript:" URI

Most work are probably changes concerning event handlers (e.g. onclick, onblur, ...) and "javascript:" URIs (having "javascript" in the protocol part of the URI). In general, such code pieces must be refactored (see e.g. 1  or 2  for examples).

OpenACS 5.9.2 offers to ease this process the function template::add_event_listener , which can be used to register event handlers in a compliant fashion either per HTML ID or per CSS class (see cal-item-new.tcl  or in forums/lib/message/row2.tcl  for examples, how add_event_listener can be used).




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