A building block is a Java web app that is deployed as a plug-in to the Blackboard Learn application and runs as a privileged part of the Blackboard Learn process. These in-process integrations have the potential to interact with resources such as the database or the file system in a way that could result in abnormal consumption of resources. In a multi-tenant environment like the SaaS deployment option, this could result in one customer's building block behavior negatively impacting other customers.

To prevent these sorts of problems, Blackboard provides a pre-defined set of building blocks for all SaaS deployment customers. Customers can use these pre-installed building blocks, and customers with Plus or Advantage SaaS deployments have full building block support. 

With the 3900.4 release, SaaS administrators can install and uninstall building blocks on their SaaS instance without depending on Blackboard Support. You can install and uninstall building blocks in Admin Panel > Building Blocks > Installed Tools. 

A combination of REST API/LTI is preferred to ensure integration support in the Ultra experience.

Installing a building block on your test or stage environment restarts the service. Depending on the implementation, you may experience a brief interruption of service. Please wait a few moments for the restart to complete before using the building block.

Installing a building block on your production environment restarts the environment in a rolling fashion, one server at a time. No service interruption is expected. Please wait a few moments for the restart to complete before using the building block.

Blackboard's approach is to include as many commercial building blocks as possible. We continue to expand our REST APIs as well as deepening our LTI support. REST APIs/LTI are the modern standard that SaaS companies use when interfacing with their systems. 

Pre-Installed building blocks

The building blocks that Blackboard pre-installs fall into four general categories:

  1. Blackboard-developed building blocks that are shipped as part of Blackboard Learn. For example, the building blocks for Discussion Board, Inline Assignment Grading, and other standard features of Blackboard Learn.
  2. Blackboard-developed building blocks that integrate other Blackboard products with Blackboard Learn. For example, the building blocks for Blackboard app, Blackboard Instructor app, Blackboard Collaborate, Blackboard Connect, and so on.
  3. Third-party building blocks from Blackboard Premier Partners, Blackboard Signature Partners, and other commercial developers of building blocks.
  4. Open source building blocks developed by the community.

All pre-installed building blocks developed by Blackboard are provided and supported by Blackboard as usual.

Third-party commercial and open source building blocks will be pre-installed in the inactive state. The Blackboard Learn Administrator will have to enable the building block.

Pre-installation of third-party commercial building blocks doesn't necessarily provide the full functionality of the integration. Licensing of the third-party application by your institution may still be necessary. Blackboard doesn't provide technical product support for pre-installed building blocks from other vendors or from the open source community. Support of those building blocks is provided through the vendor or community.

For more information, contact your account executive.