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compatibility issues between Lockdown Browser and coderunner

compatibility issues between Lockdown Browser and coderunner

by info 2020 -
Number of replies: 5

dear all,

we have been using for a while coderunner for the labs of our Python programming courses, and everything was working fine, and with great feedback from our students. However, since the exam session is approaching we started testing the integration with respondus and lockdown browser (that we use as proctoring system). As a result, we experienced several issues with the editor, which is behaving in a strange way (randomly, the editor get stuck, highlighting lines of codes and cancelling them, or selecting words automatically, and requiring students to move the cursor everywhere around to be able toi write again). I post a link to a video that describes some the issues students faced:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mXe-ocvUVL9EN0EbL-3g-o5ft_X9_zDZ/view?usp=sharing

This is a severe issues, which prevents students from using coderunner with the lockdown browser. We have no idea how to fix the problem (which is probably due to some of the restrictions imposed by the LB). Thus, I ask the forum if any of you ever experienced the same problems and can provide suggestions to fix them.

As an emergency solution, we were planning to replace the ace editor with a standard textbox (this is again a bad solution, since we'll loose all eadvance editing features and syntax highlighting), but at least students could write the program in a decent way. However, I have no idea how to do that and, again, any pointer/suggestion how to do it would be highly appreciated


best,

Andrea Bottino

In reply to info 2020

Re: compatibility issues between Lockdown Browser and coderunner

by Richard Lobb -

Indeed serious. But congratulations on at least finding the problem before the exam :-)

There are two ways of turning off the Ace editor for your exam.

  1. For each question in your exam, edit the question, click Customise, and in the Customisation section set the Student answer dropdown (which selects the UI) to None. Alternatively, if you have editor access to the prototype(s) you've used for all your questions, simply do that on the prototype(s) rather than on each question.
  2. Tell the students that they can disable the Ace editor at any time if it is giving problems by typing Ctrl-Alt-M

The two ways aren't exactly the same though. With (1) there's still a bit of JavaScript code managing the text area; it just autoindents each new line to align with the previous line and replaces <TAB> with exactly 4 spaces (regardless of current indentation). (2) on the other hand gives you a pure browser text area with no JavaScript at all. I haven't used (1) for any serious editing for years, so you would need to check that option in your lockdown browser before the exam, too. 

(2) could be a good choice if the problems are relatively intermittent; typing Ctrl-Alt-M twice will essentially reset the Ace editor state without damaging the existing text. However, it's possible that the lockdown editor locks out that particular key combination altogether.

It would be good to know what's going wrong, though. The Ace editor is very stable and used in lots of sites, so it's somewhat alarming to hear it doesn't work with the Respondus Lockdown browser. Is it possible to use an alternative secured browser with respondus, e.g. Safe Exam Browser? It's widely used with Moodle.

Also, I note that in the video the student is using a Mac. Do the problems occur on Windows PCs too?


In reply to info 2020

Re: compatibility issues between Lockdown Browser and coderunner

by Richard Lobb -

A couple more thoughts:

  1. Is it possible to check if the lockdown browser is using the right font? In the past the Ace editor has been known to give problems when using the wrong font because then its computation of where the cursor is within the text gives the wrong answer (i.e. wrong font metrics), and it updates the wrong bit of text.
  2. Could you also find another site running Ace and see if the same problems occur there?
In reply to Richard Lobb

Re: compatibility issues between Lockdown Browser and coderunner

by info 2020 -
Thank you very much for the tips. Disabling ACE editor is a viable solution (though, there is a strange behaviour, selecting text and pressing enter sends the cursor to a random position, pressing canc it works...) and ctrl-alt+m is not trapped by lockdown browser. We will make massive tests with students to check for further issues. Unfortunately we don't know how to check on another site with ACE + Lockdown Browser (the issue appears only when the two are combined, since without LB everything works fine)

To reply to your previous questions, we think the bug is related to the mouse management (LB is preventing the use of the right-click). In particular, it is easy to replicate the bug with the touchpad, and usually it doesn't appear with a usb mouse (but it again apperas when students use an "advanced" mouse such as a gaming one). Another strange thing is that we cannot replicate the bug accessing the test thorugh our intranet (so we think there is also a timing issue due to communication delays).

The problem does not depend on the OS (both mac and windows users experienced it), and the font used in LB is standard monospace, so I do not think this is the problem. Finally, unfortunately the use of LB is mandatory, since it is the system used by our University for online exams in this covid period, and we cannot ask out IT department to install and test other options (we can, but I can imagine the kind of replies we could get ;-))

I'll update the thread as soon as we have news (I think other coderunner users can benefit from the solution of this problem)

thanks again for your help
a.
In reply to Richard Lobb

Re: compatibility issues between Lockdown Browser and coderunner

by info 2020 -

Dear Richard,

I think we can consider the problem closed, since we did not solve it but at least we understood where the issue is. Moodle is managed by our IT department, which installed coderunner upon request (we are just managing the jobe server). After a long investigation (and some supects from our side) it turned out that our moodle version is not updated, since it is a custom installation...

Indeed, when accessing the ACE examples on your website with respondus (by putting its address in whitelist) everything works fine. And that's why we started reasoning about OUR moodle version...

So, there are no bugs/issues in the current coderunner version (and apologies for raising a false problem). Thank you again for the tips, which allows us at least to use coderunner (in its text-basic version) for our exams

best,

a.

In reply to info 2020

Re: compatibility issues between Lockdown Browser and coderunner

by Richard Lobb -

Thanks for reporting back, Andrea. It's good to know that the current version of CodeRunner doesn't seem to have the same problem. I do intermittently upgrade CodeRunner to the latest version of Ace, so presumably the problem was some weird incompatibility between the Respondus lockdown browser and an older version of Ace. Thanks for reporting the problem - others may hit it, too. I'm sure you're not the only site with an older version of CodeRunner!

Hope your exams go well.

Richard