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Thread: Zimlets in Academia

  1. #1
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    Cool Zimlets in Academia

    Hi All,

    New to the forum and new to Zimbra.

    I was wondering if anyone has any experience with custom Zimlets in an academic environment? Involving faculty/student schedules, course information, etc...

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the forums,

    How about fill us in on your existing products/solutions.

    Companies and schools make new zimlets every day to integrate with all sorts of existing databases. The simplest integration of course is just designed to pull up some content that changes frequently; and free people from having to open up another client just to get the basic status of something.

    Think of all the possibilities...

    -You could pull up a list of currently registered classes, (their times, locations, etc) with quick links to instructor email addresses. On the other hand you could go to full registration from within zimbra; from course descriptions, to class hours, open slots etc.

    -Instead of logging onto a blackboard/webct product, students could get a list of their classmates & email addresses, announcements, due dates, etc, nicely sorted in zimbra.

    -For the universities out there-show current meal plan/spending account dollar amounts: I'm not saying initially integrate purchasing more, but a zimlet could show the current remaining amount-and a link to purchase more would be sufficient. It could even highlight when there's say $x left on the plans to catch attention.

    -Some integrate calendars for not only school & sports events but paid events to, like plays/theater etc - and the user is quickly taken to a purchase location if they need tickets.

    An edu sample zimlet that was in the 5.0 beta:
    Last edited by mmorse; 04-14-2008 at 10:42 PM.

  3. #3
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    All of our acacademic information is stored in an Ingres database accessable via role based web applications written in C.

    To start simple, we are looking to have the course information (Instructor, Times, Dates, Location) displayed when a course number is displayed and a mouse over event occurs.

  4. #4
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    I'm very glad to see Zimbra open this forum! Hopefully the start of a good dialog here.

    On this topic:

    We've developed a few Zimbra EDU tie-ins, including one Zimlet so far and have a few more in the works:

    1) A Zimlet to provide roll-over LDAP lookups against our University directory, when anything looks like our Univ ID.

    2) Integration with SCT Banner to provide student class schedule info to Zimbra calendar. This one isn't really a Zimlet, but rather an integration point with our student system that provides (and caches) .ics student schedule info directly from Banner.

    [screenshots attached]
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
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    Hey Rob,
    I was at a very prestigious college here in CA, and we were talking about Zimlets, and roll over.

    The question came up of how to get data from an external auth source. There are multiple ways to get data, but I was curious how are you getting that data? Is it a simple post/get? Are you using SOAP? Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    john

  6. #6
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    It does a simple GET request to a URL.

    However, the Zimlet uses the proxy URL feature of the Zimlet API to tunnel all requests through the Zimbra server. The Zimlet-proxy feature is a lifesaver as it gets around the limitations of cross-site XML-HTTP calls. This is also what drives the Yahoo Maps Zimlet, which I referenced heavily while putting this one together.

    The information that is displayed in the popup is generally "public" directory info at our EDU, so security is not an issue. If I were to implement security on the request, I would grab the users authentication cookie via Javascript in the wsuldap.js file and pass it to the external URL that processes the request for validation along with the query. This general idea should work with CAS or any other single-signon style auth systems.

    I've attached a basic version of the Zimlet here in case anybody finds it to be a useful base to start with.

    The code is actually very generic and really has nothing to do with LDAP in particular, since it only:

    1) Looks for a regex to match (see line 9 of com_zimbra_wsuldap.xml)
    2) References your own HTML/lookup page (see lines 16 of com_zimbra_wsuldap.xml and line 106 of wsuldap.js)

    By changing these things, anybody should be able to easily customize the Zimlet to match (mouse-over) on anything and bring up any URL in the popup window.

    We're also working on the SCT Banner course lookup module, which will be just a slightly modified version of this Zimlet.

    Oh yeah, you will also need to add your target URL to the allowed proxy URLs in your Zimbra config and restart the server, otherwise, you will get a 'forbidden' error.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  7. #7
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    Just curious if you've figured out how to query LDAP from your Zimlets yet? We're kind of stuck on that issue right now.

    Thanks,
    Matt

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