About Blackboard Drive for Windows
Blackboard Drive for Windows (1.6.15023) allows Windows applications to operate directly on documents stored in Learn Content System servers. Blackboard Drive differs significantly from the native Windows OS ability to connect to WebDAV servers in the following ways:
- Typical Windows OS applications are not designed to work properly with document management systems such as Learn Content System. This means that when using the Windows native WebDAV functionality, you will likely encounter a variety of problems such as the loss of file properties, tags, prior versions, workflow data, and other critical data when files are updated by Windows OS applications.
Blackboard Drive helps to prevent such issues using "Application Filters", which compensate for the unwanted default behaviors of specific Windows OS applications. A list of these applications is provided in the "Application Filters" section below.
- Blackboard Drive caches files locally and synchronizes changes in the background. This means that when saving a large document in a Windows application, you do not have to wait for the entire document to be uploaded to the server before continuing with your work. Caching also greatly improves performance when applications repeatedly access the same file to read data.
- Blackboard Drive provides a Status Monitor that allows you to monitor the progress of file transfers and other operations between your Windows OS and the Learn Content System server.
- Files stored in Content Management for Blackboard Learn can be easily shared with peers, colleagues, or anybody by sharing the link to the file (for users who have permission to access the file). Or, files can be shared by creating a Content Pass, a special link that is good for a set number of days that will allow anyone to access the file, even if they don't have a Blackboard Learn account or appropriate permissions. The Intellittach feature (short for "intelligently attach") allows the user to generate this link or a Content Pass right from their desktop via Blackboard Drive.
- One of the powerful features of Content Management for Blackboard Learn is the ability to manage multiple versions of a file and have access to any of those older versions. In the past, Blackboard Drive only provided access to the most recent version of a file in the Content Collection. With version 1.6 of Blackboard Drive, the Content Management versioning feature comes to the desktop. Users can enable/disable versions and access past versions from the desktop volume in Blackboard Drive.
- Animated Blackboard Drive Icons: The Blackboard Drive icon in the system tray will now show an animation, a pulsing green LED light, when files are being processed (i.e. uploaded, downloaded, etc.) to give a visual indicator that activity is taking place.
- Status Monitor Access: The “Status Monitor” is a feature of Blackboard Drive that shows a log of all the completed and pending activity since the last time Blackboard Drive was started. With this release users will now see the Status Monitor by just right-clicking on the Blackboard Drive icon in the System Tray and choosing Show Status Monitor.
- View Settings for Mounted Volumes: Previously, to view the setting of volume a user had to disconnect from the volume Blackboard Learn web server. This enhancement provides the ability to view, but not change the setting of a volume, without having to disconnect it.
- Show Local Mount Path: Previously, the mount path (i.e. the drive letter in Windows) was not shown in the Blackboard Drive application window. Users had to check Windows Explorer to figure out that information. Now the drive letter or name will be shown in the Blackboard Drive application window.
- Copy & Drag-and-Drop Performance: Windows users may have experienced slowness doing copy or drag-and-drop actions in their Blackboard Drive volumes. This stemmed primarily from back-and-forth communication between Windows Explorer and the Blackboard Learn server. These enhancements send appropriate messages to the Blackboard Learn server so the processes are performed server-side without it having to wait on Windows Explorer.
The 32-bit installer (BlackboardDrive64-x86_1.6.x_setup.exe) supports the 32-bit versions of 'Windows XP', 'Windows Vista' and 'Windows 7' OS.
The 64-bit installer (BlackboardDrive64-x64_1.6.x_setup.exe) supports the 64-bit versions of 'Windows Vista' and 'Windows 7' OS.
Application Filters compensate for potentially destructive behaviors of typical Windows programs which are not designed for use with WebDAV. For example, when updating a file, many programs may inadvertently cause the loss of file properties, tags, versions, workflow data, and other critical data associated with the original file on the WebDAV server. This release provides filters for the following applications:
- Windows Explorer
- Microsoft Office Word (winword.exe and wordconv.exe)
- Microsoft Office Excel (excel.exe and excelcnv.exe)
- Microsoft Office PowerPoint (powerpnt.exe and ppcnvcom.exe)
- MS Office Publisher (mspub.exe)
- MS Office Outlook (outlook.exe)
- Microsoft Project (winproj.exe)
- Microsoft FrontPage (frontpg.exe)
- Visio (visio.exe and visio32.exe)
- Open Office (soffice.bin)
- Photoshop (photoshp.exe)
- Paint (mspaint.exe)
- Word Perfect (wpwin.exe)
- WinZip (winzip32.exe)
- iGrafx FlowCharter (flow.exe)
- AutoCAD (acad.exe)
- DreamWeaver (dreamweaver.exe and maple.exe)
- MindManager (mindmanager.exe)
- Maple (maple.exe)
- Norton Antivirus 2004 (navw32.exe)
- Firefox (firefox.exe)
- Internet Explorer (iexplore.exe)
Additionally, Blackboard Drive has a "generic" filter which attempts to correct for common destructive behaviors of other applications. As a result, there may be a noticeable delay before some changes are propagated to the server. Although this filter has been tested with common applications, it is impossible for Blackboard to test compatibility with all applications. Please report any unusual application behaviors to Blackboard Support as soon as possible.
- Installation of Blackboard Drive requires administrative rights and the system to be restarted once completed.
- If a proxy requires authentication, the user will be prompted for a username and password when first attempting to connect to the proxy.
- In the event of an unexpected system outage, files that were in the process of being uploaded to the server at the time of the outage will be copied to a "DriveRecovery" folder in the user's Windows home folder when Blackboard Drive is restarted.
- While browsing folders, Windows Explorer may attempt to read information from files in those folders, triggering the download of those files.
- The uninstallation utility is only able to remove startup items, programs settings, and cache data for the user who runs the utility. Other users can manually remove these items.
- When moving a file or folder via the command line, or when renaming or moving a file in Windows Explorer, it may take several seconds for the operation to be propagated to the server. Further operations that alter the state of that file or folder before the completion of the original operation may cause synchronization problems, possibly resulting in data loss. When using the command line to move a file or folder, or when using Windows Explorer to move or rename a file, please check the Status Monitor to ensure that the operation has been completed before performing additional operations that alter the state of that file or folder.
- Whenever Microsoft PowerPoint opens a ".ppt" file, it immediately attempts to write information to that file. Because of this Microsoft PowerPoint behavior, you may observe an upload of the file to the server when you open a ".ppt" file.
- Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint files may be uploaded twice in Status Monitor when created using New -> Microsoft Office Excel Worksheet or Microsoft Office PowerPoint Presentation under the right-click menu in Windows Explorer.
- When you save changes to a Microsoft Word file and close that file, you may not be able to reopen that file until the upload of the file to the server is complete.
- Temporary files from editing Microsoft Office documents are displayed in Windows Explorer. Nevertheless these files are not uploaded to the Learn Server as expected.
- The option to 'Save as' a file in Windows Explorer may not appear in the menu until a manual refresh is initiated.
- The resolution dialog for a failed operation is not showing in the foreground most of the time.
- A single but large request to the Learn Server could block other operations with the Blackboard Drive until the initial requested operation (Upload or Download) is completed. In this release, it is now possible to have running upload/download and also to browse across connected volume but applications may still be blocked in some circumstances.
- The amount of Free Space on the connected disk may not be showing properly when the volume is mounted on the root or a folder with no quota value set.
- When re-installing, upgrading or uninstalling Blackboard Drive, "Unidentified Publisher" visible in the UAC window and the warning "An unidentified program wants access to your computer" is displayed. These messages are incorrectly displayed by Windows and should be ignored.
- A bug in the protected view in MS Office 2010 applications on network drives causes the creation of file which name starts with the "~$" characters after editing an Office file using Blackboard Drive.
- The new "Clear log" button on the "Preference" tab clears (and not deletes) all files except "derby.log". Derby uses internal logging system that keeps file opened when database engine is running, so it cannot be deleted without stopping entire derby.
- When trying to create a new folder with Read-Only permission, the Status Monitor will display multiple instances of the failed attempts by Windows Explorer.
- Volumes mounted by a restricted user are not visible by administrator. This is not possible by design, because user and administrator sessions are isolated for security purposes and trying to overcome this isolation would be a security threat. If you really need the volume to be accessible by an administrator, you have to run the Blackboard Drive process as an administrator (but mounted volumes will not be visible by restricted users). Another option to make the volume accessible from both user and administrator sessions is to turn off UAC.
- Installer language cannot be changed on already installed product by using the parameter /install <language> on command line. This is limitation of MSI: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa367576(v=vs.85).aspx. In addition, during major upgrade (e.g. from 1.5 SP1 to 1.6) a different language for installation could be selected, but this language is used only for installation not for UI after installation is done. The UI will use the language set in previous version but this can be changed later in the UI.
- When running Blackboard Drive on Citrix, in order to see the name of the connected volume in Word's save-as dialog, add the following two rules into the <rules>...</rules> tags inside the SandboxData.xml file located under "c:\Program Files (x86)\Citrix\Streaming Client" on Windows 64-bit servers or "c:\Program Files\Citrix\Streaming Client" on Windows 32-bit servers:
<Rule xsi:type="NamedObjectRule" origin="default">
<Rule xsi:type="NamedObjectRule" origin="default">
- Microsoft Publisher 2003 will display an error message when opening and saving .pub documents with Blackboard Drive.
- When a shortcut is placed on disk connected via Drive, the "Shortcut" tab is not present in the Properties dialog if the option "preventShellFilePreview" or "preventShellFolderPreview" is enabled.
- The Mass Configuration option 'serverLagWarrningTime' has been deprecated and replaced with the 'serverTimeDifferenceWarning' option.
- The MSI uninstallation log is still present in the /temp directory after the product is uninstalled. Also note that logging during uninstallation is enabled only when Blackboard Drive is uninstalled using the shortcut in the Start menu but not when using "Programs and Features" -> Uninstall, because of an MSI bug.
- If the help page is not available in some locale, the help page link will lead to an error and will not be automatically redirected to the English version of the Online Help. The English online help can be directly accessed at this URL if needed: http://www.blackboard.com/docs/documentation.htm?DocID=491014en_us
- When 'net use' is used to mount a Blackboard Drive volume with the parameter /PERSISTENT:YES or with no explicit value for this parameter, on the next system startup you may see an information that not all volumes were mounted, and the volumes will be displayed with a red cross overlay in Windows Explorer. The preferred way for auto-connecting volumes at startup is to set the auto-connect flag in Blackboard Drive UI for the respective volume. The workaround for the unwanted behavior after restart is to use the 'net use' with the parameter /PERSISTENT:NO.
- When the preventShellFolderPreview or preventShellFilePreview option is enabled, all items present on the remote drive will be displayed in Explorer with a special overlay icon (with a gray cross) which is a standard behavior in Windows Explorer.
- Due to problems with application filtering of MS Paint filesystem operations, every file save operation causes the file to be locked, uploaded and unlocked.
- Some windows invoked by Blackboard Drive (like credentials dialogs, browser windows, application windows opened through Intellilink) may be sometimes not appear on top and stay obscured by currently active application. This is an operating system limitation; the opening of a new window should be indicated by a flashing icon on the taskbar.
- Creating new PowerPoint and Visio files using Explorer's right click->New... may create temporary files on server or fail to upload the file. Create new files in these applications by starting the application and create a new file within the application.