Difference between revisions of "Client Editor"

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* Choose a server site to render the questions for display.
* Choose a server site to render the questions for display.
** You can add additional server sites in the script file <code>renderProblem.pl</code>
** You can add additional server sites in the script file <code>renderProblem.pl</code>
* For Windows

Revision as of 12:34, 13 November 2010

External Client Editor

It is often convenient to use an external editor to write new WeBWorK questions rather than to compose them using the web browser interface. To do this your local editor calls the script renderProblem.pl which sends the current contents of the editor off to a WeBWorK server for processing and then displays the resulting rendered problem in a browser. The question is "live" so you can enter responses and see whether they are graded correctly. The text file for the new question remains on your desktop or laptop.

How to use it


  • Create a short screencast showing the external client in action.

Install Perl on your local desktop machine

  • For a windows machine do the following:

Goto http://www.activestate.com/activeperl/downloads and click on one of the blue buttons (for the 64 or 32 bit versions) "Download ActivePerl 5.12.2 for Windows" .

After it installs under programs you will have a "Perl Package Manager". It will probably be pretty prominent but if not under "all programs" look in "ActivePerl ..."

Open it up and install the following three packages: SOAP-Lite, Class-Inspector and Crypt-SSLeay

Actually I doubt you need Crypt-SSLeay because it is commented out in renderProblem.pl but I installed it.

Obtaining the client files

On your desktop machine you need the files WebworkClient.pm and renderProblem.pl.

You can download them from the svn repository using the links above or you can find them in webwork2/clients/renderProblem.pl and webwork2/lib/WebworkClient.pm if you have already downloaded the full WeBWorK software package.

Configuring renderProblem.pl

The configuration section for the client is at the top of the renderProblem.pl file.

  • A valid local path must be entered for the TEMPOUTPUTFILE.
  • A valid command line string must be entered for the DISPLAY_COMMAND.
  • Choose a server site to render the questions for display.
    • You can add additional server sites in the script file renderProblem.pl
  • For Windows

 # Sample path to a temporary file for storing the output of renderProblem.pl on a Mac.
 use constant  TEMPOUTPUTFILE   => '/Users/gage/Desktop/renderProblemOutput.html'; 

 # Sample command lines for displaying the temporary file in a browser on a Mac.
 use constant  DISPLAY_COMMAND  => 'open -a firefox ';   #browser opens tempoutputfile above
 # use constant  DISPLAY_COMMAND  => "open -a 'Google Chrome' ";

 my $use_site;
 $use_site = 'test_webwork';    # select rendering site  test.webwork.maa.org
 #$use_site = 'local';           # select rendering site localhost
 #$use_site = 'rochester_test';  # select rendering site (at Rochester)

Configuring the client editor

  • BBEdit on the Mac

For BBEdit (on the Mac) the renderProblem.pl must be copied from webwork2/clients/renderProblem.pl to ~/Library/Application Support/BBEdit/Unix Support/Unix Filters/renderProblem.pl on the Mac. WebworkClient.pm file should be copied to this same directory unless you have all of the webwork software installed at /opt/webwork/webwork2

Assigning this filter a key command ^R allows you to render a problem with a single stroke.

Problems with pictures and applets might not render perfectly on the external editor since there are some auxiliary files that are not transferred between the server and the desktop.

  • UltraEdit on Windows

For UltraEdit (on Windows) put the files renderProblem.pl and WebworkClient.pm in a directory, for example \akp\perl\render

  • Unix editors

Most modern browsers have facilities for passing their contents through a command line filter.

  • Command line

From the command line

 renderProblem.pl <TextInputFileName 
  • grabs the contents of the file TextInputFileName
  • ships it to the WeBWorK server site for rendering,
  • stores the result in the TEMPOUTPUTFILE and then
  • executes the DISPLAY_COMMAND to display the TEMPOUTPUTFILE.

Configuring the server

Every WeBWorK site is automatically configured to be a server for external client editors. The site will return an error message unless the course "daemon_course" has been created. The default name of the course can be changed in the renderViaXMLRPC.pm file (see below).

IMPORTANT: The line defining the server url must be completed. It should appear near the top of global.conf and should be copied from global.conf.dist if it does not.

$server_root_url   = "";  #  http://your.server.edu

Other changes, such as modifications to the password and to the name of the "daemon_course" associated with the external client editor are made in webwork2/lib/WeBWorK/ContentGenerator/renderViaXMLRPC.pm. (These configuration lines may be moved to global.conf at a later date.)

When working correctly a reboot of the apache server should print to the command line several messages specifying the location of the top directory (e.g. /opt/webwork/webwork2 ) of the WeBWorK source code.

webwork.apache2-config:  WeBWorK server is starting
webwork.apache2-config:  WeBWorK root directory set to /opt/webwork/webwork2 in webwork2/conf/webwork.apache2-config
webwork.apache2-config:  The following locations and urls are set in webwork2/conf/global.conf
webwork.apache2-config:  PG root directory set to /opt/webwork/pg
webwork.apache2-config:  WeBWorK server userID is wwadmin
webwork.apache2-config:  WeBWorK server groupID is wwdata
webwork.apache2-config:  The webwork url on this site is http://localhost/webwork2
WebworkWebservice: webwork_directory set to /opt/webwork/webwork2 via $WeBWorK::Constants::WEBWORK_DIRECTORY set in webwork.apache2-config