WeBWorK Problems

Potential bug in course.conf file due to Copywrite symbol.

Potential bug in course.conf file due to Copywrite symbol.

by tim Payer -
Number of replies: 2
The course.conf file seems to have bug in it due to copywrite symbol of a circled "c".

One needs to edit the course.conf file (assuming that you have admin privileges) to indicate the "consumer secret" for the LTI connection between webwork and the given LMS for grade passback.

The curious symbol of A-hat ("\hat A" in LaTeX) will appear just before the copyright symbol right after saving this file. And if there is more than one attempt to save this file additional A-hat symbols will precede the initial A-hat symbol. The disconcerting effect is that when trying to view or edit the course.conf webwork will return a message in pink text stating that

"This does not appear to be a text file".

Offered Solutions that have worked for us at HSU:

1.) Delete all the A-hat symbols that precede the copyright symbol then save you file and though a single A-hat symbol will still jump in next to the copywrite symbol, webwork will still recognize this as a text file and one can proceed.

2.) Delete the copyright symbol, but still keep the word "Copyright" in place in the course.conf file. And then subsequent saves for this file will still have a working file.

Given that the course.conf file can potentially lockout all users from a course if it has a glitch in it shouldn't this be addressed?

Or is there a simpler method that we have not seen here?

Thanks, Tim
In reply to tim Payer

Re: Potential bug in course.conf file due to Copywrite symbol.

by Sean Fitzpatrick -
I can confirm that this happens if you edit within a WeBWorK page (using Firefox in my case; I didn't try other browsers) using an account with admin privileges.

Is this a local server, or hosted? If you have your own server, this can be avoided:

1. Editing on the server doesn't seem to cause a problem. Our server is headless so editing is done using command line utilities. Basic editors like nano and pico don't create this symbol. Emacs and vi seem OK too.

2. Unless there is a reason why different instructors can't use the same shared secret, it can be set globally in authen_LTI.conf.

I must admit that I've never considered editing course.conf within the browser before, (or even noticed this was possible) since I've always handled configuration on the server itself.

What is curious is that the special character only occurs in the browser-based editor. If I create on in a browser by saving the course.conf file and then view this file on the server, the symbol isn't there.
In reply to Sean Fitzpatrick

Re: Potential bug in course.conf file due to Copywrite symbol.

by Michael Gage -
I believe the problem arises because the file is being saved with a latin character set and the copyright character is different in the latin character set and in the unicode (or utf8) character set that allows for other fonts such as Cyrillic or Hungarian. I don't have an immediate fix other than making sure the file is saved from an editor which is using the utf8 character encoding.

Heiderich, Tremblay and others have been working on making WeBWorK work well with characters from all languages (see the pull requests on github.com). Release 2.14 should see good progress, if not perfection, in this direction. We'll make an effort insure backward compatibility or at least an easy upgrade path for problem files that were not saved using utf8 encoding.