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Change log

This page gives a brief overview of recent key changes that you might notice or need to know about.

Many of our schools export their report decks to CSV format and use mail merge to generate reports that look exactly as they want.

There is now a new option for CSV generation: CSV by format. The default is by subject, where there is a set of CSV columns for each subject which works well when most pupils take most subjects. The new setting is better for situations where this is not the case, such as A-level options where most pupils will take three or four subjects from the school subject offering.

CSV by format option selection

If you use the same format for all subject reports and use this new setting, your CSV file will be arranged with the minimum number of sets of columns grouped by format with a “subject” column added. This will allow mail-merge template construction without lots of blank pages.

Clever use of groups (e.g. three- and four-subject pupils) could help even further in reducing blank pages.

Our backend server code is written in the Python language. We have now upgraded from Python 2 to Python 3, a major step that will allow us to benefit from future upgrades and improvements rather than being left behind on the old version.

You should notice no change, although initial testing suggests the system is just a little bit faster still!

It can take a long time to create a new session by copying the structure of a previous session. This has occasionally led to timeout errors, partial completion and so on.

This processing now takes place in the background, advising you when it is complete:

Session creation background processing

We now support non-binary gender identification for pupils. Pupils can be added individually or via copy-and-paste with a gender assignment of “N” for non-binary. This will show as a ~ in the pupil list.

Pupil list page showing non-binary pupil

As you are probably aware, the system has a handy copy reports shortcut when creating reports for similarly-performing pupils. This replaces names and pronouns as appropriate: James gets replaced with Jane and he gets replaced with she.

Gender blurring complicates this: persons who do not identify with a single gender often choose an alternative to he/she and many conventions and proposals are in their infancy.

For such pupils, we assume the they form as a starting point, but you can change this to use custom pronouns as that pupil prefers via the pupil details page.

Pupil details page showing custom pronouns

These pronouns will then be substituted in/out of copied reports from pupils with traditional (cis) gender assignment and from non-binaries using different pronoun conventions.

Two changes requested by our schools:

Pupil images on export cover sheet

If you upload pupil photos (pupil list » details), you can set up your export layout to include the pupil image on the cover sheet of the report.

Export by teacher

This one was requested for proof-reading: you can now select a teacher when exporting, and the export file will only contain reports for tasks owned by that teacher. Note that contributions to other non-owned tasks won’t be included; others’ contributions to owned tasks will be included.

And one for the nerds…

This will interest almost no-one, but we’re now coming at you over HTTP/2 if your browser supports it. On media-heavy sites this can make a big performance improvement — as we’re already super-slim, it has little effect but is still the right thing to do.

Parents with more than one child at a school can now use the same email address for each pupil account. Previously this would result in an error. Note that a distinct password must be used for each account if logging on with the email address as the username.

Sessions can now have parent access permanently turned off: useful if you are doing a set of “internal” reports that you do not want to be made available to parents ever.

Subdomains are here! If you are an admin, under your school menu, you will find a link to the subdomain page.

This allows you to set up as your login page, which looks neat and integrated and avoids the need for entering your school code number.

CSV export now supports special characters: accented letters, bullet points and other extended characters. Previously, these had been “sanitized” — for example, an em-dash was replaced with three hyphens — but now the real character is included.

This may cause issues with older versions of Excel, and you will need to ensure that any processing of the CSV file you do (mail merge) can accommodate any special characters you may have used in your report text.

When you make changes to a format field, the system checks through all affected reports to see if they are still valid under the new settings; if they are not, the reports are moved to In Progress.

However, if you had a lot of reports, the process could take too long and an error was generated. As of today, though, this process is performed in the background freeing you to get on with things.

An instructions box has been added to the individual text, number and grade format fields. This can be used for communicating the meaning and expected use of a field to your staff to ensure consistent entries across the school.

The new box can be accessed from the format screen: click the edit link next to each field to write instructions.

On the report-writing screen, fields that have instructions will show a link next to the field heading allowing the report authors to access the new text.

The grouptype paste feature allows you to paste in pupil group memberships from external sources and assigns the pupils accordingly. For example, you could paste the following into the English A-level grouptype to put John and Alice into their sets:

John Smith Set A
Alice Brown Set C

Up to now, the groups (Set A and Set C) had to be created before doing the pasting. As of today, there’s a new option on the screen to allow you to choose between Ignore unrecognized groups (the old behaviour) and Create new groups. This latter option will create a new group within the grouptype when a pasted-in group name is not recognized as already existing.