Using Gmail as an SMTP host for Sakai

This bit of code has been around for a while, but I’m not sure it’s written up anywhere except in Jira, so here goes, how to setup Sakai to use GMail for sending email:<username><password> (optional)

And for development, you can’t beat this setting for testing email without it actually being sent:
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Fruit Salad

Over the weekend I ‘auditioned’ for a spot on the popular and long running childrens entertainment group, The Wiggles.

I reckon I did ok?

The Black Wiggle


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Three new portlet releases

I am pleased to announce three new portlet releases.

Basic LTI Portlet – 1.4.2 (source, maven)

Sakai Connector Portlet – 1.5.2 (source, maven)

Simple RSS Portlet – 1.2.2 (source, maven)

All portlets are available as source tags or as artifacts in Maven central.

These releases ensure uPortal 4 compatibility, fixes a few bugs and adds seven new languages, including German (de), Spanish (es), French (fr), Japanese (ja), Dutch (nl), Portuguese (pt) and Swedish (sv).

Most of these languages were made possible by auto-i18n, an automated translation tool I developed. For native speakers, I am very interested to receive your feedback on the quality of these automatically translated languages. You can enable the various languages using the User Locale Selector portlet in uPortal.

Both the Basic LTI Portlet and Sakai Connector Portlet are now finalised and very soon should appear in the main uPortal release, as they have (almost) graduated from the Jasig incubation process!

Update: New release versions for each portlet (updated above) – slight restructuring ready for the uPortal portlet overlay.

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Four new Directors for the Apereo Foundation

via Ian Dolphin , Executive Director, Apereo Foundation:

I am pleased to announce that the following candidates have been elected to the Board of Directors of the Apereo Foundation, subject to ratification by a meeting of the membership:

Alain Mayeur, President, ESUP­‐Portail Consortium, IT Director, University of Valenciennes (France)

David Kahle, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Tufts University (USA)

Dr. Douglas Johnson, Assistant Director for Learning Services, University of Florida (USA)

Professor Shoji Kajita, IT Planning Office / Academic Center for Computing and Media Studies. Kyoto University (Japan)

Sincere thanks to all the candidates willing to serve, and congratulations to those who were elected.

And as a personal note from me, congratulations and I look forward to working with you on the Board!

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A new beginning

Yesterday morning I tendered my resignation from my position as Senior Developer/Java Team Leader at ANU.

As I look back on my time here, I’m proud of my accomplishments working with Sakai, uPortal , DSpace and CAS, rolling out all four applications the the entire university, contributing countless lines of code to these open source projects, and presenting to both the ANU and the international community wherever possible. I’ve had a tremendous experience and have met some amazing people along the way.

I’m now looking forward to my new career as a Senior Analyst at Fivium, a dynamic, award winning IT company working with the UK and Australian governments and the private sector, developing innovative solutions on a major scale. It’s going to be fast paced and I’m really excited about the new challenge!

Oh, and Sakaigers, fear not: I will still remain as active as ever in the Apereo community :)

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

University of Amsterdam and Edia launch MOOC platform based on Sakai

MOOC - ‘Massively Open Online Course’: a type of online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web. MOOCs are a recent development in the area of distance education, and a progression of the kind of open education ideals suggested by open educational resources. (source: Wikipedia)

The Central Computing Services department of the University of Amsterdam
developed in close co-operation with Edia (Sakai partner) a new MOOC
platform based on Sakai CLE 2.9. This platform will be used to launch the
Universities first MOOC, “Introduction to Communication Science”. A
dedicated Course-catalog and self-enrollment tool have been developed for
this platform.

The online course entitled “Introduction to Communication Science” is an
initiative of the College of Communication and the Graduate School of
Communication Science. In the QS World University Rankings 2012, the
Communication Science programme at the UvA was assessed as the best in

The University of Amsterdam is developing various initiatives in the field
of ICT in education. More and more lectures can be viewed online via live
stream or afterwards. Developing and experimenting with MOOCs corresponds
with the University’s desire to make knowledge widely available and show
the appeal of academic study.

Interested parties can enrol now in the “Introduction to Communication
Science” study course via

Posted in apereo, sakai | 1 Comment

External Calendaring Service for Sakai

Over the past few months I’ve been working on and off on a project to make working with iCal files within Sakai really easy - I call it the External Calendaring Service. I am pleased to announce that this is now available for your delicious consumption.

It leverages iCal4J and allows you to turn Sakai CalendarEvents into iCal files. You can aggregate a number of events together to create one calendar and then attach it to an email, then update events, delete events, add and remove participants etc. This is really useful when tools want to send out notices about events, so an obvious integration for this is the Signup tool, which fully integrates with the service.

Check out the Javadocs for the complete info:

The service is available in source code via the Sakai SVN repo, but to integrate with your project just add the following dependency to your POM and you are done:



Feedback or suggestions for features warmly welcomed.

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Reduce your Sakai CLE startup time

There is a current discussion on the sakai-dev list about the recent switch to Tomcat 7 and some new features in Tomcat that meant startup times took a bit longer than they used to.

As it turns out there is a new feature in Tomcat 7 that scans jar files for various Servlet 3 features. However the CLE code doesn’t use any Servlet 3 features yet.

So we can just disable the scanning and cut our startup times by a fair amount.  On my local full trunk deployment I was able to reduce my startup from 175 seconds down to 89 seconds.

To do this, in, set:


So far, all CLE tools in 2.10 appear fully functional. If you try this and experience issues, please let me know in the comments, or post on list.

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Jasig-Sakai consolidation vote passes

The recent Jasig-Sakai consolidation vote by the respective Foundation and community members has passed, meaning that we can now push forward with the last remaining steps towards forming the Apereo Foundation.

The results of the vote are:

58 Members voted for the merger, 3 voted against, and 3 abstained. 13 Members did not register a vote.

40 Members voted for the merger, 1 voted against, and 1 abstained. 5 Members did not register a vote.

On behalf of the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors and the Jasig-Sakai Working Group, thanks to everyone who took the time to vote in this historical event in our respective communities.

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Why I support the Jasig-Sakai consolidation

In a few days, both the Sakai and Jasig communities will be voting to consolidate into one organisation, the Apereo Foundation. This is the culmination of over a years worth of effort from many people from both communities and it is a very exciting time to be part of open source communities such as Sakai and Jasig.

If you are not familiar with what the vote is all about, take a look at the documents posted on

I’d like to share my thoughts on why I support the Jasig Sakai consolidation plan, since I am involved in projects from both communities, to hopefully offer some insight into how each community will benefit from the consolidation.

Both communities do certain things really well, but there are areas where the expertise from the other group could be brought to bear. For example, current Jasig projects would benefit greatly from the comprehensive QA and accessibility working groups within the Sakai community, and current/future Sakai projects would benefit greatly from the detailed Jasig incubation process and speedy release cycles that are applied to Jasig projects.

In addition, uPortal has a mature mobile project called uMobile. Sakai CLE has a rather basic mobile web view only, but is gearing up for web service support to enable web applications. I see some great collaborations and integrations happening in this space as we move forward.

As for financial savings, there will be considerable savings as the need for two Executive Directors is reduced to one. We can also share infrastructure and reduce the overhead for running it, further reducing the costs and freeing up the time of developers who look after the hardware, to get back into the code where they are needed the most.

There are many other financial benefits to be had, including savings on conferences, collaboration tools, communication services and project facilitation. In the longer term we can achieve considerable economies of scale as we de-duplicate each other.

To the outside world, the Apereo Foundation will hopefully appear as a more attractive and robust option for serving more of an institution’s needs. There is a big push (at least in Australia) to reduce the number of vendors that serve institutions and establish relationships with just a few to provide a larger number of services. Apereo will be in this space. We won’t just offer an LMS/CLE anymore, we can now also offer an enterprise portal, single sign on, a calendaring system, institutional mobile apps, and much more. As institutions see possible alignments, more opportunities for shared development becomes possible.

To paraphrase Maggie Lynch, the previous Chair of the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors, I truly believe that if we don’t find ways to share resources, leverage talent across each of the projects and invest in a larger vision for open source software that serves more of an institution’s needs, then we will ultimately fail. I believe we are stronger together, which is why I support the consolidation plan. What you believe should determine your vote.


As for voting, you have two options. Join into a teleconference meeting (details below) and vote ‘in person’ or fill out a proxy voting form and email it – the proxy form is the preferred option just in case of technical difficulties or if you can’t make the meeting on the day, for some reason. On that form you will be nominating the current Sakai Foundation Board Chair, David Ackerman from NYU, to record your vote. You can indicate how you want David to vote for you. It’s as simple as that. The form is due on the 29th October though, which is really close, so please get your forms in.

Note that if you don’t vote at all, or if you abstain, your vote will be counted as a no, so please vote!

Also, if you are not the institutional representative who will be voting, but you are active in the community and have an opinion on the consolidation, lobby your representative and make sure they vote.

Some key dates and times:

29th October 2012

  • Proxy voting form to, or
  • RSVP for the teleconference to

1st November, 2012 at 5 p.m. GMT (1 p.m. EST/New York)

  • Teleconference where you can vote in person. You need to RSVP (see above) to get the  connection details.

2nd November, 2012 at 1 a.m. GMT (12 p.m. Sydney, Australia, 10 a.m. Tokyo, Japan)

  • If needed, a continuation of the above teleconference to accommodate members in these timezones.


Posted in apereo, cas, jasig, open source, sakai, Uncategorized, uportal | 3 Comments