Composite groups

Inside of Grouper is a little-known feature that allows you to create new groups through applying logic to existing groups. This feature is known as composite groups.

Whilst the functionality of using this ‘group logic’ brings great power, it’s easy to get yourself in a knot. The following simple example works through the creation of new groups containing students studying a specific stage on a specific programme.

Creating a group containing Stage 1 students studying on H200:

We already publish groups containing Student to Programme (Corporate Data:Student_Programme_Enrolments), and Student to Stage (Corporate Data:Student_Stage_Enrolments) assignments which are updated daily using data derived from SAP. If your school is not published already, get in touch and we’ll add it it.
We need to combine these two corporate data sources…

1. Browse to where you want to create the group (if you’re publishing to Active Directory then this will need to be in the Applications stem).

2. Create your new group as per normal, and give it a sensible name, e.g. MyExample_H200_Stage11

3. Click More Actions > Edit composite2

4. Select the two factors that will build this composite group, then select ‘AND’ as the operation (implying that a user will only become a member of your new group if they’re a member of both of the composite groups)3

Note that in addition to an ‘AND’ (intersection) operation, you also have the option of using a ‘NOT’ (complement) to exclude members.

Getting to grips with Grouper

Yesterday, Phil and I delivered a short overview session on Grouper, covering what it is, what it’s for, why you might like to use it and some tips and lesser known features.

The session was aimed at both new and existing Grouper users at Newcastle University (anyone who doesn’t consider themself to be an expert). We were very pleased with the turnout (about double what we expected) and the feedback.

If you missed the fun (or if you were there and want to hold on to the experience for a bit longer) you can now enjoy the full session on ReCap and peruse a copy of the slides at your leisure.

By the way, I’d like to offer a belated apology for the Star Wars references; I’ve recently watched the original trilogy with my daughter (her first time) so I’m afraid it was on my mind. I should’ve pointed out that Grouper is not quite as powerful as the Death Star.

Grouper UI issues and solutions

Since Grouper was upgraded at the end of last year we’ve received lots of positive feedback about the new, friendlier and easier-to-use UI.

New Grouper UI

However, there have been a few reports from IE users of issues with the new UI, where the quick links are visible but the content is not.

New Grouper UI in IE with compatibility view

It appears that this occurs when IE is running in compatibility view so, if you encounter this, there are two simple options to enable you to use the new UI:

  1. Use a different web browser.
  2. Switch off compatibility view.

Alternatively, you can click on the ‘Admin UI’ link to use the old interface.

Grouper upgrade

In December 2015, we upgraded our Grouper installation to the latest stable version. (For the uninitiated, Grouper is the software at the heart of NUIT’s group management service.)

The upgrade had been a long time coming. It had been talked about many times but had never quite managed to get to the top of the priority list. This is mainly due to the rapid expansion in demand for the institutional data feed service, which has taken up a significant proportion of our time and efforts over the last couple of years, but also because the group management service has been very stable and reliable and carried out its function quietly and competently.

The new version of Grouper has a few significant differences to the version we were running: most obvious is the new dashboard-based user interface but there are also a few other nice new features.

Shortly prior to the upgrade, we held a couple of captivating and enlightening demo sessions to highlight these differences to existing Grouper users. If you were unable to attend (or if you did attend and would like to relive the joy of the invigorating presentation), it’s now available on ReCap.