BCcampus analyst contributes library to open source site

Thanks to BCcampus Senior Technical Analyst Jam Hamidi’s PESC Java Library, more institutions can now have their student transcripts zip through the Internet via secure servers, quickly and safely. Instead of taking up to 28 days for record exchanges, the transcripts can now be shared in a day. With over 155,000 transcripts being delivered electronically amongst post-secondary institutions and students across Canada, the need for speed, accuracy, and of course, security, is evident.

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Jam Hamidi has given the Java Library he designed for TranscriptsBC, to sourceforge.net, the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software discovery and development on the web. The sourceforge.net site has over 48.4 million users and hosts 460,000 projects.

What is a Java Library for?

Mr. Hamidi’s library is described on sourceforge.net as, “A Java library that implements the PESC College Transcript object and all dependent objects. It provides marshalling and unmarshalling from Java objects to PESC XML files. It is to be used within an integrated development environment (IDE), such as Eclipse, for auto-completion of fields.”

How it works

Inside a Java IDE (development environment), all fields are automatically revealed.

The purpose of the “marshalling/unmarshalling” process is to transfer data between the RMI (Remote Method Invocation) systems. “Marshalling” refers to the process of converting the data or the objects into a byte-stream, and “unmarshalling” is the reverse process of converting the byte-stream back to their original data or object. The conversion is achieved through “serialization”.

Meeting PESC Standards

The Post-Secondary Education Council (PESC) is the standard setter for educational data. PESC standards require that data flow seamlessly from one system to another as needed and without compatibility barriers. The data flow must always be safe, secure, reliable, and efficient. However the storage of student information so that it’s relevant and easily retrievable is a challenge. Something as seemingly straightforward as a field to record a student’s address must hold information that will be sufficient and compatible across all institutions. The address could be urban, domestic, rural or even international.

“Having all the fields or elements doesn’t mean you also have the rules that govern them however,” said Mr. Hamidi, “It’s only when we have everything we need from each element defined in the schemas, that we’ve created a Library.”

Sharing the schemas

PESC collects schemas that have been devised by participating institutions to solve common problems – for instance recording student addresses – and publishes those schemas so that other institutions do not have to reinvent the wheel. Organizations can download the schemas and work with them and make them specific to their needs.

“This library is not a major donation,” said Mr. Hamidi, “ However we want to promote the use of the PESC Standard and now, as an open source Library, it’s easily available to all.”

Jam Hamidi’s Java library for mapping (PESC) types to Java objects is downloaded about 50 times a month.

Notable Quotes

“Having all the fields or elements doesn’t mean you also have the rules that govern them however,” said Mr. Hamidi, “It’s only when we have everything we need from each element defined in the schemas, that we’ve created a Library.”

“This library is not a major donation,” said Mr. Hamidi, “ however we want to promote the use of the PESC Standard and now, as an open source Library, it’s easily available to all.”

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