Let's talk about Edline.

Now we are on Edline. I don't know how you guys feel about this website, but I think it is the worst software package that a well-known educational company can ever make. It is not only ugly - looks like a 10-year-old website, but also very, very, insecure. I want to dig into the system and see what they actually have.

Overall rating compared with my blog

Edline Rating
  • edline.net is rated 66/100 by website.grader.com
  • Too much redirects on the landing page
  • No source code compression
  • Absolutely no SEO support, including title, description, heading, or sitemap
Mingjie's Blog Rating
  • mingjie.info is rated 97/100 by website.grader.com
  • Use of jquery rendering slowed down rendering speed

Who's the boss!!!

Language - HTML and pure JavaScript?

So when I first glanced at the source code of Edline, I saw the address of the login page displayed as https://www.edline.net/Index.page. At that one second, I was totally messed up and thought, what the heck is a .page file? But as I proceeded to the code, I finally found out that it was just a plain HTML format with a different file name, or we can say, directory name.
But why? Why would you make such a weird file your landing, and why would you configure an HTTP redirect right on the landing page? Check this out... This is the source code I found on parsing edline.net first load:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; URL=/Index.page" />
<meta name="norton-safeweb-site-verification" content="qd09bxreu5vyqrl6-02ov78uyukt31hr4jlo115gs90628onnrc-u3h3ot1m1eks7u3942ira8bkj3whmcq014ryjw0ouyxw7epq5jdde91t4o2w1yguoygslxhehd9z" />
<meta name="description" content="" />
<meta name="robots" content="NOINDEX,FOLLOW" />
<a href="/Index.page"></a>

Yah. That's right. A PLAIN redirection. 3 more seconds on load.
Here's the fun part: <meta name="description" content="" /> <meta name="robots" content="NOINDEX,FOLLOW" />. A website whose main login page has no meta SEO has SEO on its redirection page and that SEO was forwarded to the login page! What a great logic.
Glad that they actually have TLS encryption. But wait, how are the information delivered? PLAIN-TEXT! Imagine your personal information, not only your grades, but also your name, your phone number and email address attached to it, and also passwords, being completely exposed to anyone with a tiny bit of grabbing skills on the same network. Insane. Unbelievable. That's how they treat our personal information.
Okay. On a more professional side, how information is updated. I can't see any of their back-end scripts, but let me take a guess: a cron task running every 24 hours synchronizing the teacher's grade book information and the student end Edline database. I am not that professional, but I know that there is definitely a way that they can update things real-time without wasting any server bandwidth and energy. The dumb way - let the student end fetch the data themselves. No one would keep refreshing the page for their scores, (And even if there is someone doing that, a Captcha would keep him or her off easily.) and you are not delivering billions of terabytes of data, are you? That won't cost you a lot.
This is what Blackboard made me think of: A group of old man and old ladies programming websites on prehistoric machines running Windows 98 and writing code on "notepad". Well is it? It's 2016. No one uses jQuery anymore. No one transmits data by plain-text anymore. No one expects any delay on information delivery anymore.
Also, what an efficient function you have there:

function dvbReceiveDocViewExplicitReturnPage(pAjaxReq, successString)

I'm just a student. And I'm writing this only as an advanced user. I can do nothing but to use it as there is no way I can write to them and I know they won't reply anyway.
I understand that Edline is not Blackboard's only product. And I've seen good ones. But Edline is just a failure, according to my point of view.
I don't think they are making any improvements, as the system is very unstable (frequent downtime). But there are so many school districts using this product. The "monopoly"-like user range is not helping them at all. Here's a suggestion to the school districts: there are so, so many alternatives to Edline. They might not be cheaper, but they are definitely more stable, secure, efficient and beautiful than Edline. If they are not maintaining the product anymore, just try another system. It might take some time and effort to train the teachers how to use the new system, but there will be a long term positive payback.

I know that there is something that I don't know about the system. And I am not the know-it-all guy. If any part of this article made you feel disrespected, I apologize. I hope there will be change. At least, a better system.

Mingjie Jiang

Maryland, United States


comments powered by Disqus