Modernising Curriculum for Excellence's legacy systems with Sharepoint.

SQA is the national accreditation and awarding body in Scotland. They work in partnership with industry, universities, colleges and schools to provide high quality, flexible and relevant qualifications and assessments; embedding industry standards where appropriate.

They are also one of the four national organisations involved in Curriculum for Excellence - a framework that enables all young people in Scotland to take their place in a modern society and economy.

SQA use Microsoft SharePoint to store documents relating to the Curriculum for Excellence (CFE). In order to publish these on their websites, they required an interface that would retrieve these files from SharePoint and distribute them across a number of online portals.

The move from FileNet Document Management

Historically, FileNet Document Management System had been used to facilitate and promote metadata on Curriculum for Excellence (CFE) content; automatically transferring the CFE content to the appropriate place within the main SQA website, as well as their secure, password protected website.

A manually triggered, custom executable exported content and their metadata from Filenet, while another of our custom Java based applications consumed the extracted content and processed it, along with the corresponding metadata. SQA then made the decision to replace FileNet with Sharepoint and it was our job to adjust the integration with the new Document Management repository.

The case for SharePoint

Since Sharepoint exposes its content through REST Web Services, the primary implementation decision was to enhance our existing solution by altering the communication interface, i.e. use Web Services instead of the existing FTP file communication; while keeping the heart of the content and metadata processing algorithms intact.

A wrapper for the existing Java application was implemented as an individual REST Client, which could authenticate and explore Sharepoint content, retrieve and process the necessary items, and update the respective SQA Content Management Systems. Upon each cycle completion, a callback to Sharepoint is fired to notify it about the dispatch status, i.e. successful or failed. An alert mechanism is also attached so that administrators are kept aware of the progress and notified in the case of failure.

Sharepoint uses two libraries to encapsulate resources, namely CFE for SQA website and UAS for secure SQA website. Modular processors for each of the libraries were implemented; one for each action that a content item can go through i.e. insert it to a website, update it if it already exists or delete it. That way, atomic processing of each content item is ensured and failure in one does not block the whole process.