Skip to main content
Blackboard Help

Create Data Source Keys

How to Create Data Source Keys

The easiest way to create Data Source Keys (DSKs) is from the user interface on the Administration Panel.

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Building Blocks section, click Data Integration.
  2. Click Data Sources.
  3. Click Create Data Source.
  4. Type a unique Key and optionally add a Description.
  5. Click Submit.

You can also create Data Source Keys using the Data Source Management (DSM) Tool, a command line application that creates and manages Data Source Keys and associates them with their respective data entities.The DSM tool is installed when Blackboard Learn is installed. The DSM tool is located in blackboard_home\apps\snapshot\bin\ in a typical installation. For more information including syntax, see About the Snapshot Command Line Tool.

Naming Conventions for Data Source Keys

To ensure logical application and knowledge transfer, create a system for naming Data Source Keys so that they can be easily identified. The following naming convention represents a relatively simple way to break up the data sets to enable the two most common workflows.

Data Source ID

A simple ID should be assigned for the source system, for example SIS for a Student information system, or HRMS for a human resources management system. By combining this ID with an ID for each type of set, a flexible naming scheme can be derived to support typical workflows.

Type Bound Sets

Type bound sets include a component that is derived from the type of feed that is being performed. This way a data set is identified by the entities involved. For example, if the string ‘Course’ is used to mean “Course” then that string is included to indicate the type of the data set, for example SIS.COURSE.

Term Bound Sets

Term bound sets are used to group data that are related, but should not overlap time periods in the database. For example, it might be desirable to feed spring Courses into the database while fall Courses are still active. Using a key that distinguishes the two sets based on their term will prevent Snapshot operations on one set from interfering with data in the other. For example, SIS.SPRING2000 and SIS.FALL2000.

Type and Term Bound Sets

In many cases it is desirable to use a combination of type and term bound identification. The most common example is Student enrollment at an institution with a fixed academic calendar—enrollment is bound to a specific semester for example, SIS.COURSE.FALL2000.


A school wants to process student and instructor lists, course section listings, and enrollments over the course of several semesters. In general, from semester to semester, the student and instructor lists will encompass the same basic data set. However the courses and enrollments will need to be processed on a per-semester basis. That is, from semester to semester, active Students and staff will be treated as a single logical set (with fluid membership) while courses and enrollments will be treated as logically distinct sets that do not intersect from semester to semester.

One solution is to use type-bound keys for students and instructors, and type and term bound keys for courses and enrollment. A Data Source Key is created called SIS.USERS that is used to identify the set of users over time. This way, all active students, and instructors may be processed as a single set of data.

Separate Data Source Keys are created for courses, enrollment, instructors and students, all which are both type and term bound:



That way, all user feeds may use the SIS.USERS Data Source Key, while courses and enrollment can use the SIS.COURSE.* keys, with guarantees that operations performed on one of the sets will not affect the other set.

As another example, different sets can be applied to different users:




Illegal Characters for Data Source Names

Data source keys should consist only of the letters A-Z, numbers 0-9, periods, and underscores (_).

Data Source Key names are not case sensitive.