Automatically updating a site from a database with a script

A colleague here in OUCS is using new WebLearn in a fairly novel way. They have a database (actually a subversion repository) full of HTML-based teaching material and fancied making it available in WebLearn (in addition to other places where it is currently used).

They didn’t want to have to manually update WebLearn every time the material was updated and wondered whether we had a suggestion as to how this could be done.

The solution that we hit upon is fairly simple. A site was created to host the material. We then set up a Webdav connection from the user’s Linux PC.

After this a script was written which does a check-out from the repository into a temporary folder and then copies the files into the WebLearn site via Webdav. These files replace the incumbent in WebLearn and so the site is brought up to date.

The final piece in the jigsaw is to schedule a ‘cron job’ to run the script at 4am every Sunday night / Monday morning – this effectively automatically updates the WebLearn site every week ensuring that the teaching materials are more or less up to date at all times with no manual intervention.

This scenario is not uncommon and we can provide guidance should anybody else fancy trying this.


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