Pondering NG 9 …

At BbWorld ’08 we were told the NG 9 * product would not contain some features near and dear to Blackboard’s customers inherited from WebCT. BUT – to hang on, the NG X version would.


Many of us CE/Vista customers left BbWorld ’08 knowing we would not be moving from our current product release to NG until they reach our sweet spot, as in “X” marks the spot…

Now that I think more about it, the features we care about – crosslisting, reporting, hierarchical structure – these features are database-driven. So my new question is how is it going to work that the NG 9 version DOESN’T have these features and the NG X version DOES?

Wouldn’t it be essential to design the database supporting this functionality from the get-go rather than making major modifications after the first version of the new product has already been delivered?


* The next generation product is being given the version number ‘9’ even though it will be redesigned from the ground-up, combining elements of the 2 current Blackboard course management systems.

4 thoughts on “Pondering NG 9 …

  1. If a) Blackboard’s db doesn’t have those functions, and b) they are moving to the Blackboard db schema then beefing it up to support WebCT features, then that would feasibly explain the loss of db-driven features. Or, they might be designing a new db schema from scratch (probably wiser) which would mean every feature would get weighed for necessity since each would cost development time to recreate.
    Your point about design is good — those features happen to be the ones that can wreak havoc on a data structure that wasn’t designed to support them from the get-go. So let’s hope they’re designing for 10 and just not implementing the app/web bits in 9.

  2. You drank the Kool-Aid…. This mess is exactly why I have not blogged about the conference. How to say it politely has eluded me so far.
    1) The statement was more that current large Vista customers advising Blackboard told them NOT to try and put these things in Bb9 and wait for a later release.
    2) Once Bb9 goes general availability, the discussions about what functionality should go into BbX and when can start.
    3) For Tyler: Bb9 is just a new Bb8 Classic. The databases are compatible enough a Classic customer can just upgrade. CE and Vista customers are stuck with either start new or connect a Bb8 CE/Vista to Bb9. (CE4 customers can do the same to Bb9.) CE/Vista customers at some point have to boat anchor their existing service or run an aging, increasingly obsolete system for years.
    4) The reason WebCT wrote Vista from scratch was exactly because they needed a complex database structure CE4 did not have to implement the features. Once they got it down pat, they released CE6 as Vista Lite.
    5) Bb Classic has a more free-form approach to roles and contexts. How to integrate that into the rigidity of Vista’s hierarchy is the trick. If I knew that, then I’d be everyone’s favorite developer.

  3. See, I have to wonder how all the NG 9 adopters are going to feel about having the enormous Vista(ish) chunk-o-functionality dropped on top of their nice, lean(ish) system. Which leads me to believe that the intention is for things to appear unchanged from their perspective when going from 9 to 10. Really, how could it be otherwise?
    So then I’ve got to wonder if this really is best of breed, or if it’s actually intended to be somehow *both* at once, with 2 discretely different ways of doing business. Otherwise, how would they satisfy all their clients with one product? I mean, the whole point of NG is to get away from 2 forks in the LMS product line, right?

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