Bb Positioning Framework

Batch Import/Export/Restore/Archive
Senior Consultant
The Blackboard Learning System consists of two main
system components: The Application Server, and the
Database Server. In smaller systems, one physical
server may house both of these subsystems, and in
larger systems, there may be multiple servers and/or
load balancing.
Regardless of the size of the installation, Blackboard
courses consist of content on the application servers as
well as content in the database
 Application Server
– Any uploaded content (files) is housed in a unique folder named
by course id in a path like this:
• D:\bb_content\vi\bb_bb60\courses\1\BIOLOGY102_FALL_05
– Each time files are uploaded into any area of a course, a new
folder is created inside the course folder with a random number:
• D:\bb_content\vi\bb_bb60\courses\1\BIOLOGY102_FALL_05\cont
 Database
– All settings, configuration options and content directly entered
into the GUI (typed content in the WSISYG editor) button and
folder names, assessment questions, etc.)
– Courses are housed in the BB_BB60 database instance
System Backup
 Most institutions maintain a “Disaster Recovery”
strategy. This usually involves a combination of full and
incremental backups on all application and database
 While disaster backup is essential, the need to recover
individual courses (as opposed to the entire system),
this backup scheme does not lend itself to the recovery
of individual courses.
 Blackboard provides two options for course specific
– Course Archives
– Course Exports
Which is Which?
– Course Archives
• A zip file that contains all course components including all student
accounts, data and grades. Intended for complete course recovery
and record retention.
– Note: If the archived users don’t exist on the destination installation,
the archive restoration process will create the users.
– Note: Only System Administrators can restore courses
– Course Exports
• A zip file that only contains instructor added content – no student
data is included. Intended for use in course re-use (from semester
to semester), course blending (adding content from one course to
another) or course transport (moving a course from one server to
– Note: Instructors can restore exports into their existing courses
Things to Remember
 If you want to bring an ARCHIVE back into the system,
you must use the RESTORE tool
 If you want to bring an EXPORT back into the system,
you must use the IMPORT tool
 The RESTORE process will create a new course on the
system, and that new course must be restored to a
unique course ID
 The IMPORT process can be used to create a new
course, or to blend course material from the export into
an existing course on the system
Individual Course Backups Strategies
 Many institutions encourage their instructors to maintain
current backups of all of their courses. Instructors can
perform both archives and exports via the control
panels of their courses
 Administrators can also individually archive and export
courses from the system administration panel.
However, this requires the administrator to search and
archive/export each individual course.
 Many institutions want to automate the system of
creating and maintaining course exports and archives,
and perform them in batch processes.
Automating the Batch Archive/Export Process
 There is a command-line tool that will allow you to
perform the following tasks:
Batch Import
Batch Export
Batch Archive
Batch Restore
 Using this tool requires back-end access to the
Blackboard installation subdirectories on an application
 The tool utilizes parameter switches and a feed file to
automate the tasks listed above in an unattended
sequential process
Obtaining Course IDs
 If you are performing Batch Export or Batch Archive
(dealing with courses that are already installed on the
system), you will need a list of the Course Id’s.
 The easiest way to retrieve a list of CourseIDs
(without manually typing the list), is to access the
COURSE_MAIN table in the BB_BB60 database
instance. Notice the SQL Enterprise Manager
example below:
Obtaining Course IDs
 The COURSE_MAIN table contains a
column named COURSE_ID. This
column contains all of the Course ID’s
on the system
 This column can be exported to Excel
or a text file. The COURSE_ID’s can
also be exported using the SQL
commands in Oracle.
 The list of CourseID’s then needs to be
filtered (usually by semester or some
other grouping) for the Archive or
Export process
Creating the Feed File for Archive/Export
 The Batch Archive/Export process uses the same feed
file. The feed file must contain two things:
– The CourseID
– The path where you want the Archive or Export to be stored
Running the Tool
 The tool can be found in: blackboard\apps\contentexchange\bin\batch_ImportExport
 The parameters that you include on the command line will determine what the
tool does
 The parameters are as follows:
-f batch File
The batch file that describes the courses that should be
operated upon
as well as the location of files to use. The meanings of
these values
change based upon the type of operation being
-l delimiter
The delimiter that is used to separate the values in the
provided batch
file. This value can be 1, 2, or 3 (1 = , 2 = ; 3 = tab)
-t operation
The type of action to perform (must be import, export,
restore, or
import/restore - the course id of the target course and the
path to
the package file to use for the operation.
-n hostname (optional)
export/archive - the course id of the course to operate on
The hostname of virtual installation against which the
(the course
operation should
must already exist) and the path to the directory into
be performed. If this option is not provided, the default
which the
virtual host
resulting package file should be placed.
will be used.
Please see the Blackboard Administrator Guide for more
regarding the expected format of this file.
Sample Command Line
 Here is the actual MS-DOS command used (as text):
D:\blackboard\apps\contentexchange\bin>batch_ImportExport.bat -f
D:\archives\feed.txt -l 1 -t archive
 Note: Be sure that no hard returns are in the command
line path
What about Import/Restore?
 This process is run in much the same way
 The parameters must reflect import/restore instead of
 The feed file specifies the location of the exported
package or archive as well as the desired course ID
for the newly restored/imported course
Is that all?
 There are some other useful information resources to
learn more about this tool
Bb Admin Users Manual
Readme located in same directory as tool
Users Forums
Behind the Blackboard