MINTED - Moodle Integration with Enterprise Data

Technical overview of the Minted project

This diagram gives an overview of the Minted project: An overview of the MINTED project

The CETIS IMS Enterprise web service

The CETIS IMS Enterprise web service (cetis-es) is a J2EE SOAP-based web service using the Apache project's Axis engine. Once downloaded and deployed, it needs to run in a Java application server such as Tomcat, JBoss, JRun or equivalent.

The core cetis-es toolkit is downloaded from SourceForge. A key way in which the Minted project has achieved its objectives of making the toolkit easier to adopt is in the way that we've handled the "bridge" - the integration between the generic parts of the toolkit and the institution's own database.

The bridge is a framework for connecting the Enterprise web service endpoint to an institution's own database.

We've simplified the bridge code by separating it out into two logical entities:

  • the Data Access Layer (DAL), an institutionally specific implementation of the methods defined by the IMS Enterprise services specification
  • a generic bridge that maps the IMS Enterprise services specification to the web service end point
The abstraction is managed as a java interface, the DAL interface

In order to get the cetis-es toolkit up and running, the institution need only to implement this interface. For example, an institution would implement the readGroup() method by defining the query to extract data from their database, and then mapping the columns from the result set to the group object as defined by the toolkit.

Once the institution have done this, then there is no need for them to write any further code - the generic bridge will manage the mapping between the institution's data access layer and the SOAP calls. Using the same approach, we have also simplfied the way that client code will interact with the toolkit - the same interface can also manage the way in which client code interacts with the toolkit.

We believe that this will make the toolkit easier to set up and will make the toolkit accessible to a wider range of institutions.

The Minted client

The Minted client is based on the Data Access Layer interface as defined in the bridge. This means that there is simple access to the SOAP-based web service from the client-side code, with no need for the client to be aware of how its interface is being implemented.

The client is a simple command-line interface requestor that uses just three of the methods from the IMS Enterprise Services specification. It outputs data in XML format, as defined in the IMS Enterprise specification.

A detailed specification of the Client Requestor is available here as a PDF document: Detailed Design - Minted web services client component

The MINTED project ran between 2006-2007 and was funded by JISC as part of the E-Learning programme