Skip to main content
Blackboard Help

About Data Source Keys

Data Source Keys are labels made up of alpha-numeric strings that allow different types of data from a single data source to be grouped together so that they can be handled in a single operation. The Snapshot Command Line Tool and Snapshot feed files used for SIS integration process data based on what Data Source Key it is associated with. Using Data Source Keys breaks up Snapshot processes into separate operations to optimize system resources and meet business rules.

Data Source Keys are created as needed and can be saved for future use. They can be used in almost infinite ways to categorize data, tying together data from different systems so it can be added to Blackboard Learn. Data Source Keys are stored in the Blackboard database and are referenced in the Snapshot properties file.

Example of Using Data Source Keys

ACME University teaches 1,000 courses twice a year (Fall and Spring). Rather than lump all those courses together, it is easier to process them when they are associated with two different Data Source Keys that break them out by the semester in which they occur. 

For instance, ACME assigns the FALL_Courses_10 Data Source Key to all Fall courses and the SPRING_COURSES_11 Data Source Key to all Spring courses. This separates the courses by semester. If the courses were not identified with separate Data Source Keys, then it would be difficult to add, change, or remove all Fall courses from the system without also modifying the Spring courses as well.

Data Source Keys can be used in many ways to categorize data but there are some general tips that should be followed when creating and applying Data Source Keys to data.

  • Keep a consistent naming convention for the Data Source Keys to prevent confusion when it is time to modify or remove data.
  • Avoid creating multiple Data Source Keys for entries that will remain for a long period of time (such as Students or Faculty). Doing so may create unnecessary complications or problems.
  • When archiving and removing courses at the end of a semester it is best to disable them first for a short period of time before archiving and removing them from the system. This will allow a short period to confirm that they have been archived safely before removing them and help prevent accidental deletion of courses that have not been safely preserved if desired.

When assigning data sources to course and organization categories, child categories must belong to the same data source as the parent category when the category tree is inserted. If child categories do not appear in the same data source as the parent, the child-parent relationship will not be maintained.