Archive for August 2007

Updated OpenLearn

This morning the live OpenLearn servers have been updated with quite a few improvements…

  • RSS feeds published for a variety for units (including unit content)
  • MyLearningSpace and MyLabSpace – so you can see your courses, recent forum postings etc in one place (well really it’s 2 places!! – one for each OpenLearn site)
  • More prominent forums – so will hopefully generate some more discussion, and what dicussion there is will be more visible to users
  • much more sensible login navigation for users with OUCU (SAMS) user accounts
  • plus, obviously the most important update (!) is to MSG block, so you now receive much more obvious new message notifications, when a new message arrives you’ll see a small pop up box appear in the bottom right of your browser window (in a similar way to how GTalk informs you of new messages)

Plus there have been lots of other updates to the servers too (bug fixes etc), but the ones above are (IMHO) the most significant.

In ‘other news’, I’ve put the FB stuff on bit a of a backburner for now, whilst we get chance to think about what exactly we want the FaceBook MSG application to actually do. The other (real!) reason for this is that I had quite an obscure bug which took most of last week to track down and fix. In the MSG forums there were a few people who weren’t getting automatically logged in to MSG. There didn’t appear to be any pattern to who was affected, and I didn;t have a user account which displayed the issue, so was difficult to pin down. Eventually we found it was to do with not all users being auto logged in to both LearningSpace and LabSpace, and it was these users who then didn;t get logged in to MSG. So we’re pretty sure we’ve got the issue fixed now, but if you’re still affected then please let us know!

More MSG widgets & applications

Have just started to have a look at developing an MSG widget/application for Facebook and am getting myself familiarised with the Facebook developers API. Appears to be fairly straightforward so far – well, I guess it can’t be too hard judging by the number of applications already out there and the API has only been available since around June (I think!).

One thing I do need to get sorted is exactly how the application should work and how it should interact with your facebook friends. My thinking at the moment is that it should look to see which of your friends have both a facebook & MSG account on the server you’ve specified and display their MSG presence – but I need to think a little more about how this would work in practice, or maybe it should just display all your MSG contacts? But then there could be less linkage between your Facebook contacts identities & MSG contacts identities. hmmm.. any ideas/thoughts?

Publishing presence status

I’ve finally finished writing another little widget that I started a while ago, this one allows you to display live presence status embedded on any webpage, without the end user being logged in to MSG (or even needing an MSG account) – you can see it in action at the top of this page. Clicking on the status icon will launch the MSG client.

In order to prevent anyone monitoring (or just displaying) anyone elses presence status, for each username and url (domain and directory) you’d like to display the icon on, we need to assign you a unique ‘key’ – in a similar way to how the Google maps API keys work. At the moment we don’t have an automatic form for generating these keys, so for now you’ll just need to email us with the username, and the url of site you’d like to display the icon on.

Here’s that code that you’ll need to paste onto your page to display the presence icon:

<script src="

Here’s a brief description of each of the parameters:
host: MSG host server where the user account resides
user: username of the presence icon to display
Refresh: how often (in seconds) the widget should check for presence changes. Minimum is 10 seconds and specifying 0 will mean the presence status is only loaded when the page first loads
showText: true/false of whether to show the textual description of the status (default false)
showIcon: true/flase of whether to show the icon (default true)
key: key for the url and username combination

Any comments/feedback welcome 🙂

MSG Netvibes widget – first version released

I’ve just finished writing my first version of an MSG widget for the Netvibes environment and it’s ready for people to have a play with.

Netvibes MSG widget

The widget will give you the presence state of your contacts (with “click to chat” option) and notify you when new messages are received.

To add the widget to you’ll need to log into you Netvibes page then select ‘Add Content’, under the ‘External widgets’ section select ‘UWA Module’. Click on the ‘Add to my page’ link, which will then add the generic UWA Module to your page. Then edit the settings for this module so the Widget URL is set to: You must also ensure the ‘Inline this widget’ box is ticked (else it won’t remember your password).

You can now edit the MSG Widget to set your MSG username and password and then whenever you log into your Netvibes page you’ll automatically be logged into MSG and receive new message notifications and the presence status of your contacts.

OU users: if you normally use your OU network password to access MSG on, you should create a new password for accessing (otherwise Netvibes will be storing your OU network password), to do this please follow these instructions.

Please note that currently the MSG Netvibes widget will only connect to the server, so you must have an account on this server to be able to use the widget. After we’ve done some more testing we’ll extend this so you can use the widget to connect to your MSG-OpenLearn profile.

Feel free to try out the widget and let me have any feedback 🙂

Next step (after any bug fixes!) is to see if this widget can be used with iGoogle – in theory it should as they use the same UWA, but I’ve not tested it out yet. And after that, make a Facebook application for MSG…