WAZ: Public access

Jan 23, 2018

Providing student (or parent) access to the school notices is a great idea.  Now that they are online we want people to be able to access them electronically, however we are also concerned about the security that needs to be retained.  With a paper notice we would always know where the information was, and copies could easily be posted on notice boards around the school.  With an electronic system we support email delivery to staff and secure staff access, however managing student and parent access added some challenges.

Security issues

Many school notices contain private information, particularly when names are used in relation to events or activities.

One option is to require students staff and parents to login in order to access the notices.  This however generates a significant amount of additional work in allocating and maintaining login names and passwords for each student and parent.  While SOBS supports an LDAP connection it is not necessarily true that parents will be allocated an LDAP identity when their student enrols, generally this is not the case.

An alternate option was to limit access by IP addresses, and this would typically work within the school, however with wireless broadband connections and mobile computing becoming so popular IP addresses will remain dynamic, even within the school (for example, staff or students who use their iPhone to access the school network).

Which ever way we turned we always came back to the dilemma, how to maintain access while providing security.  There is no easy solution to this.

Turn it on/off

Enable the facility by turning on the option in the School Settings, on the WAZ tab – it’s called ‘Public access’.

This was the simplest and most effective form of security.  For schools who did not want this option it is, by default, disabled and will not operate unless specifically enabled.  Only SOBS administrators are able to enable this feature.

The SNID code

When enabled an SNID code will be generated.  This is a random 4 character code generated for your school.  It is a required element of the URL in order to view the notices.

The basic URL is therefore, http://sobs.com.au/waz/studentnotices.php?schoolid=9999&snid=zzzz

The school ID number and the SNID code must match in order for the notices to be displayed.

The SNID code can be updated by disabling and enabling the ‘Public access’ feature.  You might want to do this on a regular basis, perhaps once a term, or if you are aware of the URL being posted on public websites.

The sub-title

You can configure a Sub-title for your report as in the following example:


Typing in: http://sobs.com.au/waz/studentnotices.php?schoolid=9999&snid=zzzz&title=Student notices
Will result in: http://sobs.com.au/waz/studentnotices.php?schoolid=9999&snid=zzzz&title=Student%20notices
(The “%20” is URL-speak for a space)

You can also add variables to the title, including date formatting and day number.

@dn     The Day Number if one exists, otherwise it uses 1-7 where Monday is 1

The remaining variables are prefixed with a ‘%’ character and represent various date components – these are listed in the table below.

%a An abbreviated textual representation of the day Sun through Sat
%A A full textual representation of the day Sunday through Saturday
%d Two-digit day of the month (with leading zeros) 01 to 31
%e Day of the month, with a space preceding single digits. Not implemented as described on Windows. See below for more information. 1 to 31
%j Day of the year, 3 digits with leading zeros 001 to 366
%u ISO-8601 numeric representation of the day of the week 1 (for Monday) though 7 (for Sunday)
%w Numeric representation of the day of the week 0 (for Sunday) through 6 (for Saturday)
%U Week number of the given year, starting with the first Sunday as the first week 13 (for the 13th full week of the year)
%V ISO-8601:1988 week number of the given year, starting with the first week of the year with at least 4 weekdays, with Monday being the start of the week 01 through 53 (where 53 accounts for an overlapping week)
%W A numeric representation of the week of the year, starting with the first Monday as the first week 46 (for the 46th week of the year beginning with a Monday)
%b Abbreviated month name, based on the locale Jan through Dec
%B Full month name, based on the locale January through December
%h Abbreviated month name, based on the locale (an alias of %b) Jan through Dec
%m Two digit representation of the month 01 (for January) through 12 (for December)
%C Two digit representation of the century (year divided by 100, truncated to an integer) 19 for the 20th Century
%g Two digit representation of the year going by ISO-8601:1988 standards (see %V) Example: 09 for the week of January 6, 2009
%G The full four-digit version of %g Example: 2008 for the week of January 3, 2009
%y Two digit representation of the year Example: 09 for 2009, 79 for 1979
%Y Four digit representation for the year Example: 2038

For example:
Typing in this: http://sobs.com.au/waz/studentnotices.php?schoolid=9&snid=asjk&title=%A %d %b %Y (Day number @dn)
Results in: http://sobs/waz/studentnotices.php?schoolid=9&snid=asjk&title=%A%20%d%20%b%20%Y%20%28Day%20number%20@dn%29
Which produces: Thursday 23 Aug 2012 (Day number 4)

Only today’s notices

The public URL will only display the current days notices.   This is quite valid up until about 3pm when you might want the system to display the notices for tomorrow.  We have called this the ‘Switch over’ time.  You can configure your ‘Public access’ notices to ‘Switch over’ at say 3:00pm.  When students or parents access the URL after this time they will automatically see the notices for the following day.

If the following day is a Saturday there are not likely to be any notices, essentially notices are only valid on school days.  In order for the system to recognise school days it is necessary to ensure you have configured a calendar with valid terms.  If you are using the Resource Booking application then you probably have this already, if not you will find the ‘Calendar’ link on the configuration menu.  Click this to define your calendar, add terms and specify holidays.  Be sure to click the ‘Publish’ link once you have entered all of the holidays.

Once completed the ‘Public access’ URL will automatically display the notices for the next school day.  If after school on Friday it will display Monday’s notices.  If Monday is defined as a holiday it will show Tuesday’s notices.  If it is a term break it will display the notices for the first day of next term.

Only student notices

This facility will only include student notices.  It will not include ‘Staff’ notices.