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Direct Data Access

Direct Data Access is included in the SaaS Advantage deployment tier and may be available as an add-on for certain customers in the SaaS Plus deployment tier. To learn more about deployment tiers, see Learn SaaS Plus and Advantage Options.

As part of the Open Database initiative, launched in 2010, Blackboard offers Data Direct Access for Learn SaaS. With Data Direct Access, you can query a near real-time replica of your Learn database whenever you need to. Support staff can troubleshoot issues; academic staff can collect data about adoption, use, and the efficacy of certain initiatives; and leadership can use real data to evaluate return on investment and make data-supported decisions.

Data Direct Access has two components – the SaaS read replica database and detailed schema documentation.

SaaS read replica databases

  • Near real-time – Data are updated from Production databases in near real-time.
  • Secure – Data and data transfer are encrypted to IP-restricted addresses.
  • High performance – Databases run on production-equivalent hardware.
  • Flexible access – Use your favorite DB client application or technology.*

*must support connections to PostgresSQL over SSL.

Open database documentation

Documentation is delivered in HTML packages in Javadoc format and provides information about the Learn SaaS database structure, including layout and table inter-dependencies. The packages below include a description of the data characteristics of the tables and columns, including datatypes, sizes, nullability, index, sequence, key, and constraint information. Additional commentary is also provided for key tables and columns.

This information is intended for intermediate to expert administrators and developers experienced working with relational databases.

You can view the Schema or Changes packages directly in HTML using the following links. You can also download the packages through Behind the Blackboard on the Download Files page for each release.

9.1 Q4 2015 View Schema | View Changes
9.1 October 2014 View Schema | View Changes
9.1 April 2014 View Schema | View Changes

What isn't included?

While the read replica is a full and complete copy of the production database, the published schema in the documentation does not include a complete description of every database object in Blackboard Learn. The following information is not included:

  • Detailed commentary for some tables and columns.
  • No table or column information for the Xythos engine file storage schema.
  • No information about stored procedures, views, triggers, or database jobs.

Access the data

When you purchase Direct Data Access or become a Learn SaaS Advantage customer, Blackboard will provide you with these details required to connect to your read replica database.

You can request up to 5 username/password sets.

As part of the security apparatus, connections will only be allowed from a limited number of IP addresses. Blackboard will ask you to identify up to five unique source IP addresses from which you intend to interact with the read replica. If you have trouble identifying your IP addresses, you can find it by going to on the machines from which you plan to connect.

Turn data into information

Now that you have this access, how do you make it useful? The following questions may help:

  • What is actually here in the data?
  • What sort of things do I want to know?
  • What else should I be looking at/for?
  • How exactly do I get that from these data?
  • What does this query really do?

Get answers and help with Direct Data Access:

Using the pgAdmin tool

To access the data, you'll need a database explorer, reporting tool, or some software that can connect to the PostgresSQL database over SSL. For our example, and to help you test your connection, we are using the free, open source tool pgAdmin, which is available for both Mac and Windows.

Note that Blackboard can't provide technical support for pgAdmin or any third party software you might use to connect to the read replica. Information provided here is done so as an example. The pgAdmin interface may vary based on version and platform. We have attempted to provide the most up to date and accurate information possible.

Before you begin:

  • Download and install the latest version of pgAdmin for your operating system.
  • Download and save the SSL Public Key, making note of where you saved it.

Create and configure a new database connection

  1. Open the pgAdmin application and select the plug icon to add a connection to a server.
  2. Complete the fields on the Properties tab
    • Name: choose any name you would like
    • Host: value provided by Blackboard
    • Port: 5432
    • Service: leave empty
    • Maintenance DB: postgres
    • Username: value provided by Blackboard
    • Password: value provided by Blackboard
    • Store Password?: leave unchecked for higher security
    • Color: choose a display color (optional)
    • Group: leave empty or add to a group if you have any
  3. Next you will have to provide the SSL certificate to pgAdmin. On the SSL tab:
    • SSL: Choose “Require” from the drop down
    • Server Root Certificate File: Browse to your saved SSL Public Key (rds-combined-ca-bundle.pem)*
  4. Select OK to save

Note that pgAdmin is looking for files with the .crt extension. Don’t worry, pgAdmin will convert the .pem file to .crt when you select OK.

Run a SQL query

  1. In the pgAdmin tool, select the database you want to query from the Object browser window.
  2. Select the SQL icon in the toolbar. The icon appears as a magnifying glass.
  3. The SQL Editor window appears. Type your query in this window.
  4. Try a simple query and view all the user records:

    select * from USERS

  5. Select the green arrow icon when you're finished.