WebCT in Mathematics & Computer Science at Drexel University

Basic Disclaimer

This page, and all software contained within, is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.


  1. TA's
  2. Website Maintainer's
  3. Students and Everyone else



  1. Local information for TA's in MCS@Drexel.
  2. getsub.pl "Get Submissions"

    Due to the overwhelming popularity of getsub, we've moved it to its very own page which you can find here.

  3. mkwct.pl "Make WCT file" (webct question file format)
    mkwct.pl v1.0no comment

    This is to alleviate some of the pain when creating webct quizzes. If you are tired of using the web interface to create your questions, then this program can help. It requires you to type your questions as you would except in a text file that has some xml'ish syntax to it. The attributes to the tags should be familiar if you have experience importing your questions into webct. If you don't and want to learn, then I suggest you start by downloading your existing database of questions from webct. You can do this somewhere in "Manage Questions". The documentation also explains how to import questions. The syntax looks like this:

       <webct status="begin">
       <qnumb>172.04.01 Name of my question</qnum>
       <qcate>172 Lab 4</qcate>
    Your question, in html with or without javascript, or plaintext goes here :)
       <webct status="end">

    This will save you the worry of the nasty quiz format syntax. It can render any document unreadable once you have those required tags in it. This is a little less rigid. The 'H' or 'T' are for text or html. The dimensions after the ':':' are the size of the textbox for the actual answer, on the html form. Email me if you have anymore questions. I'll be posting a more comprehensive introduction to this page shortly.

    Here is an example of one of our labs, which has this syntax secretly contained in it. Notice the tags require it to be embedded in an html comment, this way a web browser doesn't blow up on the syntax.
    lab4.htmla regular lab with the webct comments embedded within. This way we didn't have to change the format of the labs, we just added comments that were interpreted by a different program (mkwct.pl), and did not harm the integrity of the information. The javascript in this file is actually broken, but that is b/c I didn't link all the files for this. It's just for an example of an input and output file that can be used with mkwct.pl
    lab4.wctthe output when using lab4.html as input. This is the actual question format that webct will accept.

    Also note, my usage of the *.wct file is not a standard file extension for webct quizzes. This is just a convention that I have been using to distinguish them from other documents. Feel free to use it, but don't think people will know what you are talking about.

  4. prssub.pl "Parse Submission List" (I'll post this soon, when it actually works right)

    Takes the html source of your assignment or quiz, and returns you a list of magic numbers that correspond to the drop-boxes where the submitted work resides.

  5. Spreadsheet Notes These notes may be useful for maintainers of the "master" spreadsheet database. These are not very user-friendly, but they can be read if you have some familiararity with maintaining a spreadsheet in webct. Basically if you adhere to the conventions I propose, you can maintain a spreadsheet which will have "power of attorney" over webct's internal spreadsheet, without loss of data. It was designed so you can easily update the "student visible" grades without having to click through thousands of menu's.

Website Maintainer's

  1. wgetmirror.bash

    Just a wrapper for wget (also called "recursive web-suck"), but will download all referenced html pages given a starting page up to a specified depth. Usage is explained in the program. This is useful if you want to mirror a page from the outside world (uses your passwords, too), so webct is no exception.

  2. loginmirror.bash

    Tested on QUEEN. Only necessary if your course still has two websites. Performs a mirror from the "inside", where wget is doing this from the "outside". It requires ssh for authentication into a host system, then it copies a <timestamp>.public_html.tar.gz file to your local filesystem. This is useful if you want to mirror all the material on one website, and transfer that material to the webct server. This program does what wget can't do, and that is grab all data sitting in the public_html directory, which has no references to it. It won't have references if a directory has an index.html page, which signal the web server to block an 'ls' or 'dir' from occuring in that directory. This solves the reference issues of wget, and allows for the most complete mirroring of a system.

    This could be further extended to automatically upload this data into webct, but sftp, or even ftp, is not provided to date. This would be an excellent service that you should kindly ask the university to provide.

Students and Everyone else

  1. Account Problems: Have an account problem? Try this fill-out form which will automatically request an order to resolve any problems. Note: This is for Drexel students in the MCS dept only.
  2. Check your browser's compatibility here
  3. Having browser compatibility problems with just the chat applet? Are you using linux? Me too... I have hacked up a quick fix here for your enjoyment. You must have the appletviewer application installed on your system for this to work properly, and you may have to be logged into webct with a web browser at the time also.

    A requirement on some systems for the appletviewer may be to turn off the sound. It does funny things on my system if I leave the sound on.

    Please keep in mind that the appletviewer is slower than a JVM running in your web browser. When you click on the room that you want, it will take about 5 minutes before the room actually opens. This is normal, just be patient. This latency is only in the beginning, the chat will still give the illusion of real-time.

    Last thing to note, this file is hardcoded for CS172. My solution is to download the source of this file, change the CS172 to whatever your course is, then call the appletviewer with the new file location.

    So... using your appletviewer type the following command exactly:

    $ appletviewer http://www.mcs.drexel.edu/~uccera/webct/chatapplet.html

    Here is a direct link to the applet, but if you're browser doesn't support the chat applet in webct, it won't magically work here either.

    If you don't have the chat applet then use the one on queen over ssh. If you don't know what ssh is, then you should download it at http://www.ssh.com. ssh will tunnel all of your display connections so you can execute the applet on queen remotely and the display information will be sent to you automatically. I tested this on 4/22/2001. Drexel provides an ssh license for all students, and should be on the student file server or the Drexel CD.

Not From Drexel? Mini FAQ so far:
    I see lots of references to queen on this page, what is it?

    Queen is the name of Sun Solaris machine where all of our faculty/staff in CS have shell access.


10/10/2001Moved getsub to its own page, other slight modifications.
10/6/2001Brand new getsub to save the day.
10/1/2001Added accounts page, and re-upped the assignments page.
7/30/2001Moved the site over to classes root
7/10/2001Added the assignments page
5/7/2001Added v1.4 of getsub.pl, fixes issue with certain binary data like word docs. I wasn't aware of this until some windows users began using the program. I was trying to remove the annoying <xmp> </xmp> that appears in plaintext submitted data. The problem is fixed now, and the <xmp>'s are safely removed.
4/23/2001Less vaporware, updated getsub.pl
4/11/2001Lots of vaporware here, this will change shortly. I have everything written already, but is highly hard-wired to my configuration. If you really need something mentioned here that has't been uploaded yet, just mail me and I'll email you what I have. It should only require minor changes.

Back to the WebCT page @MCS

Everything on this page was written by Chris Cera in the Mathematics and Computer Science department at Drexel University

since 4/23/2001: