Forum LAMS for Tech-Heads - General Forum: Author problem

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1: Author problem
04/26/07 05:35 PM
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A student has completed a sequence for assessment purposes but is now unable to access it. When she goes to her folder a message appears which says something about a problem and having to restart author. I saved the dump file and attached it in hope that this may help solve the problem.

Greg Jones

Posted by Greg Jones

2: Re: Author problem
In response to 1 04/29/07 05:14 PM
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Sorry for the delay in replying - I've been trying to think of the best way forward.

Can you have a look at the log directory ([jboss]\server\default\log and see if the lams.log has any errors that look related to this user? If so, could you post the logs.

If you are concerned about protecting the privacy of some of the content of the logs (particularly in debugging mode)
then email them to

It sounds like the problem happens every time, so if you arranged a time with the student to retry it then you could turn on the debugging, recreate the error and then turn off debugging. You don't need to restart LAMS to do this - if you wait a while after changing the configuration file LAMS will switch itself to debug mode while running, and then out of it again when you change the configuration file again. It won't usually take the 15 mins it says on the page - it is usually within 5. But I don't know the maximum time it will take so I sat 15min on the wiki page just to make sure.

But while the debugging is turned on, your server will slow down (as it is writing a LOT more stuff to the log).

Instructions for turning on debugging are on the wiki as Creating DEBUG Logs.

At which point exactly is the error occurring? We had a look at the dump and it gives us the error that is occurring. but that has confused me even further - the error looks like it is trying to write to the database but from your description she is just trying to get up the list of sequences and hence it should only be reading from the database, not writing.

The error suggests there might be a corrupt design (either the one she wants or another one) in that folder. If so, it will probably require a database change to get the corrupt design back again.

Does she have an earlier version of the design in her folder that she could go back to (if she can access the folder) and then redo her final changes?

Has she done a preview of the design? If so, even if the original design is corrupted, we may be able to get back a version of it the way it was when she did preview.

I know this is a bit open ended - if you could give me a few more details we might be able to come up with a solution.

If students want to do backups of their own work then they can export the design (using the LAMS format, not the IMSLD format) and put the resulting zip file on their USB drive / CD / etc.

While you shouldn't have had this issue with LAMS, back in the days when I was a computing science student we rarely got much sympathy if our assignment work was lost and we didn't have our own backup - whether it was our own fault or not.

To anyone that has put hours of effort into their sequences, I'd seriously suggest learning how to export and import your designs and practice it on a regular basis. When you do an import, it won't overwrite your existing copy - it will be saved with a new name.

Any computer system can fail - be it a software or a physical problem with the machine - and I never completely trust someone else to do my backups. Why, because the work is MINE and at the end of the day its my time and effort that is gone. I follow this practise with lots of things - source code, Word documents, photos, etc.

I'm not saying "don't trust LAMS", I'm saying "don't trust computers completely".

If she has done an export, but can't import it in to her workspace and open it due to the error, then could you create her a temporary account to load the sequence while we sort out the issue with her proper account.


Posted by Fiona Malikoff

3: Re: Re: Author problem
In response to 2 04/29/07 06:50 PM
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Had another student this morning so I have just spoken to the teacher. The student from Friday is now working OK.

While the student had web access to LAMS she had problems logging on to our school network. She has now resolved this. Possibly some sort of authentication issue? The issue was that LAMS says it has saved the sequence but next
time the student logged in the sequence was not shown

Will refer todays student to our techie.

Will also pass on the tip about exporting.

Greg Jones

Posted by Greg Jones

4: Re: Re: Re: Author problem
In response to 3 04/29/07 09:15 PM
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Glad to hear the student from Friday is now OK. You don't know how much I hate the thought of people losing work due to something going wrong in LAMS.

For the student who can't find their design - if they have got a popup message saying it is saved, then it is extremely unlikely that it isn't saved. The message only appears once the server has told the authoring client (ie the Flash window you are working in) that the design is saved. If the client doesn't get the "saved okay" message from the server then you won't get the popup.

Can I suggest that she checks the other folders in her workspace? As an author she will have write access to other folders and she could have saved it on another folder by accident. And she was sure she was logged in as herself? If she was having problems, could someone else have logged in for her?

If your technical staff want to check the location of all sequences that belong to a user then this code will do it. Now, this is unsupported code, may not work in the future, blah, blah, blah. Replace "test1" with the login name of the user.

select l.title Sequence, ct.description CopyType, WorkspaceFolder
lams_user as u,
lams_copy_type as ct,
lams_learning_design as l
left join lams_workspace_folder as w
on l.workspace_folder_id = w.workspace_folder_id
where u.login = "test1"
and l.user_id = u.user_id
and l.copy_type_id = ct.copy_type_id

You will get output like this:

| Sequence | CopyType | WorkspaceFolder        |
| Seq1    | NONE    | One Test              |
| Seq1    | LESSON  | Lesson Sequence Folder |
| Seq1    | PREVIEW  | NULL                  |

CopyType NONE indicates it was created in authoring. This is a "normal" sequence. The LESSON type is the copy of a sequence that is created when a lesson was started. The PREVIEW type is the copy of a sequence that is created when you do Preview in authoring - the PREVIEW ones are hidden from the user so they don't have a Workspace Folder, but they are in the database.

Only the PREVIEW sequences should have NULL as a WorkspaceFolder column. If there are NONE sequences with no WorkspaceFolder then we have a bug in LAMS.


Posted by Fiona Malikoff

5: Re: Re: Re: Re: Author problem
In response to 4 04/30/07 01:54 AM
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Thanks Fiona, I will try this code tomorrow. I will check on the second student to see if he is still having problems and if so I will try to replicate the problem after invoking the debug mode.

It has only happened to 2 out of nearly 60 students so it is probably something associated with the users rather than LAMS.


Posted by Greg Jones

6: Search for sequence details
In response to 4 04/30/07 08:57 PM
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Attached is screenshot of results from running your code.
It shows 2 sequences and 1 preview.
The 2 sequences "Blakes sequence" and "Test sequence" are one that I created on my PC when I was logged in as the student. I have had no difficulty saving and locating these sequences.
The student can also see these sequences.
I will try to find the student in class using his own laptop to see exactly whta happens when he tries to save a sequence.


Posted by Greg Jones

7: Re: Search for sequence details
In response to 6 04/30/07 10:48 PM
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Just tracked down student and had him login on his laptop. We were able to save and then open a sequence.
I think the problem was an id10t error. Case closed as far as I am concerned

Thanks for all your assistance.


Posted by Greg Jones

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