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Reference Manual of the Course Plan System

Kurt NÝrmark Department of Computer Science Aalborg University Denmark

The Course Plan System is used to make a course home page. The input description to the system is an XML-in-LAML description of the course properties. The output is a set of HTML pages. Among these is an LAML calendar. The generated course home pages make use of frames. More specifically, the leftmost frame in the browser is used as an overview frame of all constituents of a course home page. Amonge these are pages that describe the individual lectures.

This manual is derived from the XML Course Plan DTD. This manual reflects this DTD in a very direct way, by documenting the XML element mirror functions and their attributes.

There exists an example course home page in the LAML examples directory. For a 'real life example' see the Programming Paradigm home page and the C Programming home page both of which are generated by the system.

Table of Contents:
1. Rationale of the Course Plan organization 3. Course Plan constituent forms 5. Lecture plan forms
2. Top level form 4. Course info forms
A. Mirror Information Appendix

Alphabetic index:
bottom-links The container of the bottom links.
course-info The form which holds a variety of different informations - not least attributes - for a course home page.
course-intro The course intro text which appears as the entry page to the course home page.
course-plan The top level Course Plan form
description A few sentences that describes a subject of a lecture.
exercises The exercises associated to the enclosing lecture-plan
index-links A container of index links.
lecture A description of a given lecture.
lecture-list A form that contains individual lectures forms.
lecture-plan The detailed description of an individual entry.
lecture-plan-list A container of individual lecture plans.
link-entry An entry of a index-links container or a bottom-links container.
literature The literature assigned to the enclosing lecture-plan
misc Miscellaneous information associated to the enclosing lecture-plan
reading-guide A reading guide associated to the enclosing lecture-plan.
references The references associated to the enclosing lecture-plan.
subject A subject describes an area which is covered in a course.
subject-list The container of a number of subject forms
time A time entry of a given lecture.
time-list A sequence of time forms, which determines the temporal distribution of lectures.


1 Rationale of the Course Plan organization

A Course Plan makes up a description of a course home page. It consists of three levels of descriptions.

First, the subjects taught in the course are supposed to be the most stable - and most long living - informations pertaining to the course. A catalogue of subjects are described in the subject-list. Notice that an arbitrary set of subjects may be described. Typically, a teacher may have some subjects on stock for possible future use. It is, however, also possible to inline the subject information (in terms of a description element, a title attribute and a possible href attribute) in a lecture element.

Second, when it comes to the actual planning of the course, before the semester starts, the lecture entries in the lecture-list are made. Each lecture has its own id, and each lecture can refer to one of the subjects via the subject-id (in case the subject info is not inlined). The structuring of the lecture in plenum and exercises is also decided. Usually, this is fixed for all lectures, and a list of exercises-start, exercise-length, plenum-start, and plenum-length attributes may be factored out of the description. The temporal issues may be part of a lecture, using the time form. However, I usually make a separate time-list with time entries. Using this solution, time form i corresponds to lecture form i. Using this solution it is most often easy to change the schedule of the course without affecting or involving the individual lecture descriptions.

Third and finally, during the course the lecture-plan entries in the lecture-plan list are made. A lecture-plan entry refers to a lecture entry via a lecture-id. Properties such as literature and exercises are described as part of a lecture-plan entry. Notice that the attribute last-lecture-number of the course-info form controls the opening of links to concrete lecture plans.

By processing a Course Plan all pages are regenerated, including all the separate lecture frame pages.



2 Top level form

course-plan
Description The top level Course Plan form
XML content model ( course-intro ? , course-info , lecture-plan-list )


3 Course Plan constituent forms
The forms in this section are all direct constituents of a course-plan form.

course-intro
Description The course intro text which appears as the entry page to the course home page. Here the course introduction and welcoming text should be placed.
XML content model (#PCDATA | div | ol | p | span | ul )*
See also enclosing element course-plan

course-info
Description The form which holds a variety of different informations - not least attributes - for a course home page. The lecture-list is mandatory. Time information, in terms of time elements, may be inlined in the lecture elements (the constituents of the lecture-list). Alternatively, time information can be factored out of the lecture elements. In a similar way, the attributes and sub-elements of a subject (the constituents of the subject-list) may be inlined in a lecture element. Alternatively, each lecture element may refer to a subject element by means of a unique subject-id attribute. As a matter of overall organization, either all subject information is factored out as the subject-list, or all subject information is inlined in the lecture-list.
XML content model ( time-list ? , lecture-list , subject-list ? , index-links ? , bottom-links ? )
XML attributes
Required: *
Default values: red
course-id Symbol           ( IMPLIED ) An attribute used solely in the LAML forms web interface of the system. Most users can ignore this attribute.
language-preference ( english | danish ) Which language to use in the system. This affects the fixed Course Plan text only.
course-title * CDATA The title of the course
course-directory CDATA The directory which is considered the course directory - defaults to the LAML startup directory. A file path. The HTML files and other files generated by Course Plan are written relative to this directory. See also relative-source-destination-path.
brief-course-title * CDATA A brief version of the course title - an acronym typically - just a few letters
course-semester * CDATA The title of the semester to which this course belongs.
brief-course-semester * CDATA A brief name of the semester, to which this course belongs. Typically an acronym of the semester.
teacher-name * CDATA The name(s) of the teacher(s)
course-url-prefix CDATA The URL prefix leading to the HTML target directory of these Course Plan pages. Always ends with '/'. Must be in accord with course-directory and relative-source-destination-path.
author-home-url * CDATA The URL of the author's home page
make-overview-pages ( true | false ) True if Course Plan is to generate lecture and calendard overviews of this course.
color-scheme ( purple-yellow | red-yellow | black-white | blue-grey | green-brown | brownish-yellow | orange-blue | orange-brownish | olive-yellow | blue-white | blue-creme ) The color scheme to use of the course home page.
last-lecture-number CDATA A number that controls the last lecture with open links to the detailed description of the lecture
relative-source-destination-path CDATA The relative path between the course directory, as designated by the attribute course-directory, and the HTML target directory. Defaults to "html/". This attribute can be used to 'move' the HTML directory out of the Course Plan directory. If this attribute does not possess its default value you must create the destination directory/directories before running the Course Plan tool.
exercise-model ( this-exercise-slot | next-exercise-slot ) An attribute which controls the timing of the exercises. this-exercise-slot means that the exercises are held in the same slot as the plenum session. next-exercise-slot means that the exercises are held in the context of the following lecture. This attribute controls the time stamp of the exercises on the lecture plan pages. Probably an 'Aalborg University feature'.
floating-exercises ( true | false ) -
calendar-start-year CDATA The year in which the course home page calendar starts. Defaults to the year of the earliest lecture.
calendar-start-month CDATA The month in which the course home page calendar starts. Defaults to the month of the earliest lecture.
calendar-number-of-months CDATA The number of months in the generated calendar. Defaults to two months more than stricly needed.
url-of-external-calendar CDATA An URL of an external calendar. If provided, we link to this calendar instead of the calendar which is automatically generated by the course plan tool.
new-or-updated-n-days CDATA The number of days an element (such as a lecture or a link-entry) is considered as new or updated.
news-flash-string CDATA A message which is shown on selected HTML pages generted by the Course Plan tool. Used as a way to announce important information on a home page.
news-flash-url CDATA The URL to which a link is made from a new flash string.
news-flash-level CDATA           ( 1 ) A positive integer which states the importance of the news flash string. The lower number, the more important is the string, the more pages will show the message.
shortcut-icon CDATA Whether or not to show a shortcut icon with the course plan web pages of this course. Use the value true or false. The default value is false. If true, it is assumed that the file images/shortcut-icon.ico exists relative to the Course Plan source directory.
See also enclosing element course-plan

lecture-plan-list
Description A container of individual lecture plans. A lecture plan holds the description of literature, exercises etc of a given lecture. A given lecture-plan entry refers to a lecture entry in the lecture-list.
XML content model ( lecture-plan ) *
See also enclosing element course-plan


4 Course info forms
The forms in this section are direct and indirect constituents of a course-info form.

time-list
Description A sequence of time forms, which determines the temporal distribution of lectures. The first time form corresponds to the first lecture in the lecture-list, the second to the second, etc.
XML content model ( time ) *
See also enclosing element course-info

time
Description A time entry of a given lecture. This time entry is related to the correspondingly located lecture in the lecture-list. Thus, the temporal aspect of a lecture can be factored out of the lecture. As an alternative, it is possible to include the temporal aspects as part of a lecture, in an embedded time form.
XML content model EMPTY
XML attributes
Required: *
Default values: red
year * CDATA The year of the time
month * CDATA The month of the time. A number from 1 to 12
day * CDATA The day of the time. A number from 1 to 31
hour * CDATA The hour of the time. A number from 0 to 23
minute CDATA           ( 0 ) The minute of the time. A number from 0 to 59
second CDATA           ( 0 ) The second of the time. A number from 0 to 59
See also enclosing elements time-list lecture

lecture-list
Description A form that contains individual lectures forms.
XML content model ( lecture ) *
See also enclosing element course-info

lecture
Description A description of a given lecture. The subject information can either be given as a reference to a subject clause (by means of the attribute subject-id), or it can be inlined via the title attribute and the description clause. It is allowed to inline a time clause. If no time clause is inlined, time information is taken from the corresponding element of time-list. The lecture time is divived into plenum time and exercise time. Finally a room is associated to the plenum part of the lecture. Most attribute of this elements can usually be determined early in the planning phase of a course. In addition, it tends to be stable over several years. The lecture-plan entries contain more unstable information, which typically is decided upon later in the planning phase.
XML content model ( time ? , description ? )
XML attributes
Required: *
Default values: red
lecture-id * CDATA Defines the id of this lecture
subject-id CDATA Makes a reference to the subject (topic) of this lecture. Only used if the subject information is not inlined (in terms of a description element and title/href attributes) in the lecture.
title CDATA The title of the subject of this lecture. Used for inline subject information.
href CDATA An optional URL to an external description of the lecture covering this topic. We use this URL in case a subject is described external to the Course Plan system (for instance on a colleague's web site). You can usually disregard this attribute.
plenum-start * CDATA The start of the plenum part of the lecture. A number of minutes after the start time of the lecture
plenum-length * CDATA The duration of the plenum part of the lecture. A number of minutes.
exercise-start * CDATA The start of the exercise part of the lecture. A number of minutes after the start time of the lecture
exercise-length * CDATA The duration of the exercise part of the lecture. A number of minutes.
room * CDATA The room in which the plenum part takes place.
new-as-of CDATA The value of this attribute is a date, such as "2006-3-30" for March 3, 2006. The lecture description is new as of the given date. The "new" marking will automatically disappear when course plan file is processed N days after the given date. N can be given as the attribute new-or-updated-n-days of the course-info element. If not given, it defaults to 3 days.
updated-as-of CDATA The value of this attribute is a date, such as "2006-3-30" for March 3, 2006. The lecture description is updated as of the given date. The "updated" marking will automatically disappear when course plan file is processed N days after the given date. N can be given as the attribute new-or-updated-n-days of the course-info element. If not given, it defaults to 3 days.
See also enclosing element lecture-list
Note The lecture form and its constituent is primarily oriented towards the model of a lecture at Aalborg University: Half a day of teaching consisting of a lecture in an auditorium before or after some extercises in smaller rooms.

subject-list
Description The container of a number of subject forms
XML content model ( subject ) *
See also enclosing element course-info

subject
Description A subject describes an area which is covered in a course. The subject is factored out of the description of the lecture. The aggregation of the subject and the remaining lecture properties is done in lecture forms.
XML content model ( description )
XML attributes
Required: *
Default values: red
id * CDATA The unique id of this subject.
title * CDATA The title of this subjects. A few words that characterize the subject.
href CDATA An optional URL to an external description of the lecture covering this topic. We use this URL in case a subject is described external to the Course Plan system (for instance on a colleague's web site). You can usually disregard this attribute.
See also enclosing element subject-list

description
Description A few sentences that describes a subject of a lecture.
XML content model (#PCDATA | div | ol | p | span | ul )*
See also enclosing elements lecture subject

index-links
Description A container of index links. The index links are located in the left frame of a course home page.
XML content model ( link-entry ) *
See also enclosing element course-info

bottom-links
Description The container of the bottom links. The bottom links are located in the bottom part of the main frame of the course home page.
XML content model ( link-entry ) *
See also enclosing element course-info

link-entry
Description An entry of a index-links container or a bottom-links container. The textual contents of this element becomes the anchor text of the link.
XML content model (#PCDATA)
XML attributes
Required: *
Default values: red
href * CDATA The URL of the link - in the same sense as in a HTML a form
target CDATA           ( main ) The target of the link - in the same sense as in a HTML a form
new-as-of CDATA The value of this attribute is a date, such as "2006-3-30" for March 3, 2006. The lecture description is new as of the given date. The "new" marking will automatically disappear when course plan file is processed N days after the given date. N can be given as the attribute new-or-updated-n-days of the course-info element. If not given, it defaults to 3 days.
updated-as-of CDATA The value of this attribute is a date, such as "2006-3-30" for March 3, 2006. The lecture description is updated as of the given date. The "updated" marking will automatically disappear when course plan file is processed N days after the given date. N can be given as the attribute new-or-updated-n-days of the course-info element. If not given, it defaults to 3 days.
See also enclosing elements index-links bottom-links


5 Lecture plan forms

lecture-plan
Description The detailed description of an individual entry. The informations in this form is typically determined while the course is in progress. I.e, the subforms of lecture-plan are intended to be the information about a lecture which is frozen relative late in the planning phase of the course.
XML content model ( literature ? , reading-guide ? , exercises ? , references ? , misc ? )
XML attributes
Required: *
Default values: red
lecture-id * CDATA The id of the lecture. Refers to lecture entry in a lecture-list.
See also enclosing element lecture-plan-list

literature
Description The literature assigned to the enclosing lecture-plan
XML content model (#PCDATA | div | ol | p | span | ul )*
See also enclosing element lecture-plan

reading-guide
Description A reading guide associated to the enclosing lecture-plan. This text is supposed to give hints on how to approach the literature described in the literature form.
XML content model (#PCDATA | div | ol | p | span | ul )*
See also enclosing element lecture-plan

exercises
Description The exercises associated to the enclosing lecture-plan
XML content model (#PCDATA | div | ol | p | span | ul )*
See also enclosing element lecture-plan

references
Description The references associated to the enclosing lecture-plan. Via the HTML span and div elements this may give access to the HTML a (anchor) form, such that internet references can be given in the textual contents of this form.
XML content model (#PCDATA | div | ol | p | span | ul )*
See also enclosing element lecture-plan

misc
Description Miscellaneous information associated to the enclosing lecture-plan
XML content model (#PCDATA | div | ol | p | span | ul )*
See also enclosing element lecture-plan


Mirror Information Appendix.
Mirror name: course-plan-1
Automatic loading of common XML-in-LAML library? No
List of action elements (course-plan)
Generation of named mirror functions: Yes
Mirror name prefix: None
Transliteration of CDATA? Yes
List of elements for which transliteration does not apply: '()
List of elements for which all white spacing is preserved: '()
Name of HTML character transformation table: html-char-transformation-table
Are default DTD attributes passed explicitly? No
Are attributes only allowed to be text strings? Yes
Is extended textual contents allowed? No
Is white space represented by this mirror? No
How are duplicated XML attributes handled: 'keep-all


Generated: Monday, November 14, 2011, 09:15:08
Generated by LAML SchemeDoc using LAML Version 38.0 (November 14, 2011, full)