3. Open edX Ficus Release

This page lists the highlights of the Ficus release.

3.1. New Features

The Open edX Ficus release includes the following updates.

3.1.1. LMS

  • New Next and Previous buttons allow learners to navigate more intuitively through courses.
  • The Progress page loads significantly faster.
  • For course problems, the Check and Final Check buttons are now combined in one Submit button, and less frequently used actions (such as Save and Show Answer) have been moved to the side.
  • Learners can quickly see whether problems are graded or ungraded.

3.1.2. Discussions

  • A post listing view that shows not only post titles, but also the first line of each post, is now available on the Discussions and Teams pages and in inline discussions.
  • Improvements to the discussions UI include a new header area, a more intuitive topic list, and an enhanced UI that indicates unread posts, comments, and responses. You can also now sort discussions by votes.

3.1.3. Studio & Course Author Tools

  • Course teams can easily copy HTML components in Studio.
  • For rescoring, course teams can now specify that the system will only update a learner’s score if the process improves the learner’s score. For more information, see Rescore Learner Submissions for a Problem.
  • CAPA problems now allow HTML formatting. See the following documentation for more information about specific functionality:
  • Randomized content block components no longer have the unused Scored field. Because grading is set at the subsection level, this action won’t affect your course. See Randomized Content Blocks for more information.
  • Course teams can create custom pages that only course team members with the Staff or Admin role can see. See Adding Custom Pages for more information.
  • When course teams override grades from peer assessments in open response assessment (ORA) problems, the assignment is now correctly marked as complete. For more information, see Override a Learner’s Assessment Grade.
  • Improvements to the word cloud tool include a new Instructions field and accessibility updates.
  • In drag and drop problems, course authors can prevent learners from receiving feedback until they’ve dropped all draggable items.
  • Users can now view a course as a member of a content group.
  • The Student Profile report has two added columns: “enrollment mode” and “verification status”.

3.2. Updates to Analytics Events and Database Tables

  • Insights now offers per-learner data and a new “Participated in Discussions Last Week” metric.
  • Five grading events have been added:
    • edx.grades.problem.submitted
    • edx.grades.problem.rescored
    • edx.grades.problem.state_deleted
    • edx.grades.subsection.grade_calculated
    • edx.grades.course.grade_calculated

3.3. Accessibility Updates

In keeping with edX’s commitment to creating accessible content for everyone, everywhere, the Open edX Ficus release contains numerous accessibility enhancements and improvements to readability and navigability.

  • Improved video player controls make downloading videos, transcripts, and handouts easier.
  • For learners who use screen readers or keyboards only, core CAPA problem types, including checkbox and text input problems, have been updated to make identifying and responding to these problems easier.
  • Navigating among questions and reviewing survey results in the survey tool is now easier.
  • The contrast has been increased on the sign-in page for Open edX sites.
  • In Insights, the <title> element on learner pages now indicates the correct view when you switch between learner roster view and learner view.
  • The HTML structure of the Progress page has been reorganized to be more accessible.
  • The course Home page now uses heading levels 1-5 in a way that screen readers can more easily process.
  • For custom JavaScript problems, the jsinput tag includes a title attribute that helps orient non-visual learners.
  • The video playback and volume sliders are now visible when learners view videos in high contrast mode.
  • Made the visual chart on the Progress page more accessible to learners who use keyboards and screen readers.

3.4. System Upgrades and Updates

  • Administrators can now configure third party authentication differently for each of their sites.
  • With Ficus, the operating system for the Open edX platform changes from Ubuntu 12.04 to Ubuntu 16.04, the latest long-term support (LTS) version of Ubuntu. Ubuntu 12.04 reaches its end of life in April of this year. Unfortunately, upgrading Open edX from Ubuntu 12.04 to Ubunbu 16.04 is not possible. If your existing installation of Open edX is based on Ubuntu 12.04, we recommend that you build a new system.

3.5. More Information on Ficus Release Changes

The edX Release Notes contain a summary of changes that are deployed to edx.org. Those changes are part of the master branch of the edX Platform in GitHub. You can also find release announcements on the open.edx.org website.

Changes listed for 10 January 2017 and before are included in the Ficus release of Open edX. Changes after that point will be in future Open edX releases.

3.6. Patch Releases

3.6.1. 29 March 2017: Ficus.2

  • If you used the password randomization step during installation, a database user named “edxapp_replica001” is created. This username is invalid because it is too long. This issue is now fixed: the randomization step no longer creates a separate user for the replica database.
  • The certificates process was restarting constantly, due to not being able to communicate with XQueue. This issue has been fixed.
  • The help links in LMS and Studio now display the Ficus version of the docs, rather than the latest version.
  • Fixes to some automated tests.

3.6.2. 21 April 2017: Ficus.3

  • In edx-platform, Django was upgraded from 1.8.17 to 1.8.18.
  • MathJax announced that its distribution point for the MathJax library will be shutting down at the end of April. MathJax is now loaded from cdnjs instead.
  • The Analytics applications, including the analytics devstack, have been updated for Ubuntu 16.04.
  • To address a connection pooling issue in Ubuntu 16.04, we’ve changed how we launch new gunicorn web server processes.