WebLearn 2.8-ox7.1 Released: Many Fixes for Firefox 23 Blocked Content Included

WebLearn was upgraded on 12th September 2013 to version 2.8-ox7.1. This was an emergency release which added functionality to WebLearn so that it rewrites pages in order to display content and links that would otherwise be blocked by Firefox 23 enhanced security measures. This means that the enhanced security of Firefox and future releases of Chrome will, in the main, not prevent students from accessing their course material. it had the side effect of making WebLearn a more secure environment.

You will see below that there is a small change in behaviour to the Web Content tool.

Please note that it is still necessary for pages with mixed content to be revised. The reason for this is that students will still get warnings about content being blocked even though WebLearn is able to post-process these pages so that much of the content becomes accessible; these warnings are generated before WebLearn has chance to correct the problems. Nothing can be done about this.

We would strongly suggest that Local WebLearn Coordinators and anybody who has the maintain or contribute role on one or more sites read the WebLearn blog post on the implications of the tightening up of security within the most popular web browsers.

Please note: If you have a link to an external site that attempts to re-use the current WebLearn window such as:

    <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news" target="_top">BBC News</a>

this will not work in Firefox 23 due to bug. It should be fixed in the Firefox 24 release  (due for release on 17 September) but until then the only option is to change the link it to change it to have a  target="_blank" instead.

Security Improvements (pertaining to Firefox 23)

Web Content Tool

  • When a Web Content link is set up from the Edit Tools page within Site Info, it will now always open in a pop up window.
  • It is now impossible to specify that an http: site should not open in a pop up window on the Options page of the Web Content tool
  • The database has been modified to make all Web Content links with an http: target open in a popup window.
  • Inform maintain and contribute roles that they wont see target http: web sites in pop-up Web Content windows. Present link to target site in the window instead. (Users with the access role will always see the target site in the pop-up window.)

Resources tool

  • YouTube URLs are rewritten on-the-fly to use the https: protocol (instead of http:)
  • target="_blank is added to all links that appear in WYSIWYG HTML editor’s “About CK edit” pop-up window
  • rewrite weblearn http: URLs which begin http://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/ and http://beta.weblearn.ox.ac.uk/ are dynamically rewritten to start with https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/
  • Hyperlinks within documents stored in Resources which use http:// protocol are rewritten on-the-fly to open up in a new browser tab

Home tool

  • URLs are rewritten within the “Description” field of the Home tool. This description can be used as the Home page text, however, we would strongly recommend that rather than doing this, one constructs a file in Resources and supplies the address as the Site Info URL .


  • Oxitems now accepts a callback function as 11th parameter in the output_newsfeed() function. Calls to Oxtems’s output_newsfeed() function should be rewritten to include "oxitemsCallback" as the 11th parameter in the call. This will force target links to open in a new browser tab. Consider this example:
    <script type="text/javascript">
                    "","iso-8859-1","","","", "oxitemsCallback")

    Clearly you should preserve all your other parameters and add blank parameters

Other Improvements

  • Reading list dynamic availability service is now working again
  • Graduate Training (SES) tool:
    • All facet values are returned instead of just the most popular
    • Search results page has been improved
    • Ability for administrators to register non-Oxford course attendees has been added
    • Online courses and courses without teaching (or signup) dates now appear on search results page
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