Introducing MIS2AD

June 22nd, 2012 by Alex Leave a reply »

The Itch

They say the best free software development comes from itch-scratching. This is probably no exception.

The school I work for has long wished to be able to have in their email system email groups for each class group and all the teachers who teach a specific student. These groups help users target emails to just those who need to read them rather than sending an email en-mass and expecting staff to discard those that don’t interest them.

We’ve been a Frog customer for several years now and have asked on numerous occasions for “teachers of” groups, but despite being rated highly in their old customer suggestions system, still nothing has been implemented.

So tired of waiting, I sat down and in a short afternoon wrote MIS2AD.

DISCLAIMER

This code is something I wrote to solve a specific problem here. It’s offered to you in case you find it useful. It comes with absolutely no warranty. It modifies your Active Directory in potentially destructive ways, so please ensure you have a backup before you run this!

The Scratch

MIS2AD is a tool to extract SIMS timetables for staff and students and create/maintain groups in Active Directory based on that data. It’s written in Python and used the pyad library to connect to and modify Active Directory. It uses the SIMS CommandReporter utility to talk to the SIMS database so using this utility will not invalidate any support agreements with Capita or your LSU.

How it works

The most difficult thing with this integration is accurately mapping students/staff in SIMS to user accounts in your Active Directory structure. For student accounts, MIS2AD can be run in a mode where it will do its best to match students based on their name – and then write their UPN in to the Delivery Office field in AD for use when matching later on.

Where you have multiple students with the same name, you’ll need to manually add their UPNs in to Active Directory.

Staff are matched using their teaching initials on the Initials field in AD and these must be manually entered.

Next you must create an empty OU to contain all the new groups. It’s important that the OU is empty as MIS2AD will (optionally) delete any object in that OU (or sub OU) when it tidies groups. It does this to enable it to delete groups for students that have left or classes that no-longer exist etc

Once the links between SIMS and AD are complete, the tool can be run in one of two modes:

Teachers of

This creates/maintains groups “Teachers of Student Name (Mentor Group) UPN”. Each group contains just the members of staff who teach that student.

Teaching Group

This creates / maintains groups “Teaching Group Class-Code”. Each group contains all the students in that class, plus any teachers or assigned staff.

Download/Setup

The MIS2AD utility needs to be run on a workstation/server that has SIMS .net installed and configured, and as a user that has permission to modify Active Directory Accounts.

My intension is to eventually provide an MSI based installer, but for now, you need to install Python 2.7, setuptools, pywin32 and pyad. Then download the source from Launchpad here:

https://code.launchpad.net/mis2ad

You then need to create a site.cfg file in your installation folder and copy any directive you need to modify from defaults.cfg to site.cfg (under the appropriate headings).

You can then run mis2ad.py –help to see the command line options.

You probably want to run match mode first, then you can run with -v -t -c -z to create “Teachers of” groups, “Teaching Group” groups and cleanup any groups not required.

Ultimately once you’re confident it’s doing the right thing, you could set it to run as a scheduled task. It takes a fair amount of time to run on my system so probably only needs to be run once or twice per day.

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