Ares 4.7 Implementation Information

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Keys and values changed in the Ares database are listed on Ares 4.7 Database Changes.

Changes made to the default Ares web pages are listed on Ares 4.7 Web Page Changes.

System Requirements Change

Minimum requirements for Ares client:

 .NET Framework 4.6.2

Minimum client version is now Windows 7. Windows 8.1 is still supported. Windows Vista and Windows 8 are no longer supported.

Minimum requirements for Ares Server:

.NET Framework 4.6.2

Windows 2008R2 SP1 is the minimum supported version for Ares server. Windows Server 2016 should also be added as a supported server OS [Windows Server 2016 (Desktop Experience mode only)]

The Ares Client and Server Installers will now set the .NET Framework 4.6.2 as a prerequisite.

The Ares Server installer will install the SQL Server 2012  Native Client. The Ares DLL will now use a SQL Native client.

See Ares System Requirements for a comprehensive list of all system requirements.

Running Ares Web DLL from Single Physical Location

The Ares Web DLL can now be installed to one physical location on the web server but be accessed from multiple web directories. This is beneficial so that there is only one copy of the Ares Web DLL on the server which will make updating and configuration within IIS easier.

Note that this setup will only work with Ares 4.7 and higher. Previous versions of the Ares Web DLL may appear to function under this setup but certain features will not work properly.

Modifying Existing IIS Setup
1. Add a handler mapping (module mapping) at the Server or Site level. Atlas recommends using the server level when multiple web sites are configured under the server level that needs to support the Ares web dll. (i.e. Using different domain names)

The request path should be set to Ares.dll, the executable should point to the physical location of the Ares.DLL file, and the Name of the mapping should be set to Ares DLL. Note that the IIS web user accounts associated with the Ares application pool must have NTFS permissions to read and execute the Ares.dll.

2. Set the request permissions. It is important to uncheck "Invoke handler only if the request is mapped to...". If this is on, IIS ensures the DLL exists in the physical path of the virtual directory.


3. Set Access to Execute


4. Edit the feature permissions to "Execute" on the Ares.DLL. You may also see that the ISAPI-dll handler will become enabled at the same time which is expected behavior in IIS.


5. As with previous web dll configurations, the ISAPI & CSGI restrictions need to allow the DLL from the new physical location (if using a new directory).

 

6. All previous ISAPI & CGI restrictions for the Ares.dll should be removed, including specific configurations for the Testweb ares.dll. The physical Ares.dll that existed in the web pages directories can also be removed(i.e. C:\inetpub\wwwroot\ares\ares.dll & C:\inetpub\wwwroot\ares\testweb\ares.dll)


7. On the left-hand tree, select Application Pools and remove any additional old Ares and Ares Web Service applications


8. Highlight the Ares application, right-click, and select Basic Settings

  • In the box for either ".NET CLR Version" or ".NET Framework v4.0.303.19" set it to No Managed Code

 

Support for PGP Encrypted Data Loads

New Customization Keys

KeyName: CourseUserLoadDataEncrypted
Category: System
SubCategory: Course & User Loads
KeyType: YesNo
Description: If this key is set to yes, Ares will decrypt the course and user load files. This should only be enabled if you are uploading encrypted files using the public key that Ares created.

KeyName: CourseUserLoadKeyPassphrase
Category: System
SubCategory: Course & User Loads
KeyType: StringValue
Description: This key is set automatically when a new key is created for encrypting course and user data loads.

Generation of PGP Key

Upon startup System Manager will first determine if a PGP has already been generated for course & user loads (regardless of the value of the CourseUserLoadDataEncrypted customization key). The check will look to ensure (1) that a value exists for the CourseUserLoadKeyPassphrase customization key and (2) that both the AresPublicKey.asc file and the AresKeyRing.gpg file are found in the Course User Validation Data path, which is determined using the CourseUserValidationDataPath customization key. This check is done at the initial startup of System Manager to ensure that a key is created if it does not already exist, so sites implementing the feature can begin their implementation process before enabling the feature.

The PGP Keys

The private key used for decryption is not provided for any other use so it cannot be exported. The key is protected by an encrypted passphrase in the database. Atlas staff will not be able to export the private key or provide the private key passphrase.

The key pair is only valid for the user account that runs system manager. This means that if the user account that runs system manager changes or the site is migrating to a new server, the keys cannot be migrated. Attempts to decrypt data with a keypair created from an alternate user account or server will fail. The keys will need to be regenerated once the system manager is configured to run as the new user account or on the new server. The site will need to modify their workflows to use the new public key associated with the newly migrated server or user account running system manager or the data loads will not be processed correctly.

Forcing Regeneration of the key

To force Ares to re-generate a new keypair the site can delete the AresPublicKey.asc file or clear the value of the CourseUserLoadKeyPassphrase customization key. A new keypair will be generated when the Ares system Manager is restarted or the next time the Course User Load process is triggered to execute.

Encryption of Files

When an institution opts to encrypt their data for Ares Course & User Loads they must use the public key generated by the Ares system manager. This key can be found in the Course User Validation Data Path in the AresPublicKey.asc file. A standard text editor should be capable of viewing the file. Before uploading the files the organization should ensure that the 3 data files are encrypted used the Ares public key. The site can use any tool capable of encrypting files with a PGP key. Ares only expects the data files to be encrypted (i.e. Courses.txt, CourseUsers.txt, & Users.txt). The field definition files should not be encrypted (i.e. CourseFields.txt, CourseUserFields.txt, UserFields.txt). Once an institution is providing encrypted files using the AresPublicKey, the CourseUserLoadDataEncrypted key should be modified to Yes.

At this time, the Ares system manager does not expect that the data files are signed (for validation) using the site's private key, so the data files should only be encrypted using the AresPublicKey.

Support to Remove Course & User Data Load Files after Processing

The System Manager can now remove course & user data files after processing has successfully completed.

To enable this feature, set the CourseUserLoadDataFileCleanup customization key to Yes. Atlas suggests that this key is enabled if using course & user data loads to improve security and remove files containing institutional data after they are no longer necessary for Ares importing.

The cleanup will not remove the associated "Fields" files. i.e. UserFields.txt, CourseFields.txt, or CourseUserFields.txt. Only the data files, Courses.txt, Users.txt, & CourseUsers.txt will be removed.

The files will only be removed if the entire process completed successfully. If any part of the course user loading & management fails the files will not be removed.

Removed 'Current Semester' from semester selection on LTI course creation page

The "Current Semester" option has been removed from the semester dropdown that displays on the LTI course creation page. Instructors should view the dropdown to choose a valid option when creating a course. The text that displays on the disabled placeholder text defaults to "Choose a semester" but can be changed by modifying the LtiChooseSemesterText customization key.

Behavior of the 'AddedBy' column of the CourseUsers table has changed

The CourseUserLoads process will now set the AddedBy to 'Dataload' when adding new CourseUser records. If a CourseUser record already exists for the specified Course and User, the CourseUserLoads process only changes users whose AddedBy field is equal to 'Dataload'. This is to avoid reverting changes made by Staff or other entities.

Also updated the database to switch the AddedBy field in CourseUsers to 'Dataload' for any records that have a matching record in CourseUserValidation with the same course and user type.

Courses Created via LTI will now import from Course Validation

Previously, course information that was stored in CourseValidation would not carry over when the course was created via LTI. The new import will copy over all Course Validation fields before mapping the LTI fields. Any information provided by LTI that has an LTI mapping will override data from CourseValidation.

When creating a new course via LTI, the new course form where the semester selection drop-down is located, will only be displayed if the Course Validation does not contain a valid semester.

Printing Changes

A number of changes were made to printing to correct behavior when Ares prints using Microsoft Word. Auto Merged print documents will continue to work as normal and will not need to be updated.

Microsoft Word 2013 no longer requires disabling the word setting that opens e-mail attachments in reading view.

Ares has been updated so that users no longer have to disable the word setting that opens e-mail attachments in reading view.

Data exceeding 32,767 characters now truncated

To correct behavior that imposes limits on the amount of data that could be saved to a Microsoft Excel file and merged into Microsoft Word:
All Excel files generated for printing will now use xlsx file extension (i.e. the Strict Open XML Spreadsheet format is now being used).

Any data exceeding 32,767 characters in a cell will be truncated in Excel spredsheets to meet Excel Limitations (https://support.office.com/en-US/Article/Excel-specifications-and-limits-ca36e2dc-1f09-4620-b726-67c00b05040f?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US)

Print Delay added after printing and before closing Word

In an attempt to correct behavior where MS Word becomes unresponsive after printing and will not quit when printing directly without showing the merged document, a short delay has been added between the time the document is printed and when Ares attempts to close MS Word. The delay defaults to 2 seconds.

The delay time is defined in milliseconds and can be modified in the AresClient.exe.config file as follows:

<setting name="AutoPrintQuitDelay" serializeAs="String">
<value>2000</value>
</setting>

Word Documents Updated to the .docx Format

Word documents were updated to the docx format. Sites can choose to use the new templates provided during the update in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Ares\Updates\Client\Print folder or update existing templates.

How to update print template docs

1. Update the template document or use the default documents provided in the
2. Remove the old template files from the Print Directory
3. Update the value of the customization keys

Steps to updating a template document 

Note: Be sure to back up templates before updating.

1. Navigate to the folder containing the print templates
2. Open old .doc document
2. Go to 'File -> Save As' and change the document type to "Word Document (*.docx)"
3. Hit save and the new document docx document should be open on in Word now
4. *Go to 'File -> Info' and click the "Convert" button to the left of the Compatibility Mode text
5. Optionally, to remove personal information from the template, click "Check for Issues" on the 'File -> Info' page and then click "Inspect Document"
6. Uncheck all the boxes except for "Comments, Revisions, Versions, and Annotations" and "Document Properties and Personal Information"
7. Click Inspect
8. Then Click "Remove All" and resave your document

*If there are additional problems, try the process again but skip the step about converting the document from Compatibility Mode

Don't forget to update the following Customization Keys with the new file extension:

  • CopyrightPermissionRequestDoc
  • PrintItemDoc
  • StacksPrintDoc

 

 

 

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