What is the Student Information System (SIS) Data Integration Framework?

The SIS Data Integration Framework provides administrators with a simplified interface for configuring, managing, and maintaining SIS integrations. It is conveniently located in the Administrator Panel under Data Integration.

What advantages does the SIS Data Integration Framework provide?

The Framework helps ensure accuracy and consistency of data and quicker response times, reduces time-intensive data entry, and helps you to better manage costs. The Framework helps administrators by:

  • Supporting the IMS Enterprise 1.1 and LIS 2.0 standards
  • Supporting Snapshot XML and flat files
  • Providing the ability to reuse, export, and import existing integration settings
  • Providing logs of SIS integration events for easier administration

For those clients who currently use another method for integration, the Framework provides simplicity around management. You are able to install, configure, and manage your integration entirely on your own through the Blackboard Learn user interface.

I am interested in implementing an SIS integration using the Framework. Where do I start?

Understanding your institution's business logic (such as your registrar processes and so on) and data needs, as well as their relationship to Blackboard Learn are essential to determining what direction to take with the Framework. It is also important to understand how to extract the necessary data from your SIS and exactly what data should be extracted. You should work with your institution's Blackboard Learn, registrar, and SIS teams to align data needs and capabilities for provisioning that data and making it available to the selected SIS Data Integration type.

Blackboard offers the documentation in this section to help you implement the Framework. In addition, the Framework is fully supported by Blackboard Support. However, an optional set of Consulting Services is available to assist you - side by side - in your understanding, planning, and implementation of your SIS integration.

I currently use Snapshot as my integration. Why would I consider the Framework?

The Framework version of Snapshot offers several key improvements including:

  • Support for the latest objects (for example, Terms, Institutional Hierarchy, and Course Merge)
  • Access to logging directly in the user interface to visually track integration status
  • Ability to post just-in-time data feeds from the user interface
  • Ability to safely test data files without impacting data already stored in the Blackboard Learn database
  • Full support from Blackboard Support

I currently run Snapshot from the command-line. How is this different?

Snapshot Command Line Tools were formally removed from Blackboard Learn 9.1 in the Q2 2017 release.

You no longer have to rely on the Snapshot command line. You now have a user interface to manage your integration. The key difference between command-line operations and the Framework is how you would post the data into Blackboard Learn. Instead of using the command-line application, you place your data directly to Blackboard Learn.

Operations using the SIS Data Integration Framework's Snapshot Flat File use a server-side process to post data to Blackboard Learn through http endpoints based on the target action. This requires changes to your script, which would otherwise call the command-line tool.

You may continue to use the processes you have in place for extracting data from your SIS.

Can I continue to use my Snapshot integration?

Yes, you can continue to use your current integration with the caveat that it will not support new Blackboard Learn data objects added after Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP 7, nor will you benefit from the improvements in productivity and integration management offered by the SIS Data Integration Framework.

I have heard that Snapshot is being deprecated. What does that mean exactly?

Deprecation is the process of preparing for the end of something, not an end in itself. Specifically, deprecation is the announcement that a product or capability has been replaced or is no longer necessary and will be removed at some point in the future. This allows planning for change management. Additionally, announcing deprecation effectively 'freezes' development of the product. For the command-line tools behind Snapshot, this means that they will remain as 9.1 SP 7 capabilities and that the product will receive full support and only critical maintenance until it is removed from the product.

Snapshot Command Line Tools were formally removed from Blackboard Learn 9.1 in the Q2 2017 release.

How will deprecation affect my Snapshot integration?

Currently, not at all. However, the best practice of announcing deprecation allows you to begin to proactively assess your integration approach moving forward and identify the necessary changes you will need to make to support the new Framework Snapshot functionality. Note that the Framework Snapshot XML provides a path for those who currently use the XML file format in their Snapshot integration. It does not and will not support new capabilities post-9.1 SP 7.

When Blackboard determines the release in which Snapshot will be fully removed from Blackboard Learn, we will communicate this with a great deal of advanced notice so that you may plan your transition accordingly.

Because the Framework is fully supported by Blackboard Support, you will not need an Integration Customization Maintenance (ICM) agreement. For planning purposes, if you currently have an ICM agreement for your Snapshot integration, be aware that the transition to the Framework will not be covered under ICM agreements. Should you have questions about your transition to the Framework, contact Blackboard Support.

What resources are available for me to get started with the SIS Data Integration Framework?

The product documentation is available in Student Information System (SIS).

Technical documents and guides are embedded in the SIS Data Integration interface in Blackboard Learn. Navigate to the Student Information Systems Integration page on the Administrator Panel, and select the Sample Documents link in the top-right corner. Blackboard Support staff is also available to help answer questions regarding integration.

If you would like assistance with your integration setup, Blackboard Consulting can help by providing advanced guidance on SIS integration configuration with the SIS Data Integration Framework Mentoring (Technical Knowledge Transfer (TKT)).

More on Snapshot Integrations

When will LIS support Cross Listing and Institutional Hierarchies?

Within the LIS specification, Cross Listing is referred to as Section Assignment. Blackboard plans to approach this in a standardized fashion working with the IMS to achieve the level of specification within the LIS outcomes.

Institutional Hierarchies are currently not supported by LIS. The long-term goal with Blackboard's LIS implementation is to have it be a one-to-one mapping, similar to what is provided through the Flat File specifications. As the LIS specification is still being refined by the IMS, Blackboard awaits further development in this area.

Both Cross Listing and Institutional Hierarchy are supported via Flat File and that should be the interim solution for clients. With the SIS Data Integration Framework, clients can use a variety of integration methods for data needs. Therefore, LIS can be used to support some data integration needs, and Flat Files can be used to supplement other data needs.

What are Blackboard's plans for grade exchange back to the SIS within the core Blackboard Learn product?

Blackboard recognizes the importance and significance of Grade Exchange. Blackboard wants to approach this in a standardized fashion working with the IMS to achieve the level of specification within the Learning Information Services (LIS) outcomes with the goal of more generally meeting the needs of Grade Exchange in the field. As we close in on that, we will move forward in updating our implementation of LIS.

Grade exchange is supported in Learn 9.1 Q4 2015 release using the Grades Journey feature.

What is the acceptable character set for integration data?

The inclusive safe character set on the core data fields is:

A-Z a-z 0-9 . ' , " : ! ? $ @ [ ] { } -_

The password and external keys may also contain:

% & # < > = \ + /

Characters not allowed in any field:


I heard that the Command Line Snapshot Tool is deprecated. What exactly does this mean?

Deprecation of the command line snapshot tool means that it is in maintenance mode and no longer being upgraded to support new data objects when they are added to Learn. This means that critical operational or security bugs will be addressed. The command line snapshot toolset is frozen at 9.1 SP7 development levels.

It is recommended that you assess the SIS Framework Snapshot Flat File or LIS 2.0 integration types as replacements.

What it does not mean is that the command line tools are being immediately removed - they are not. Should you determine that you need to continue to use snapshot command line tools, you may do so with the understanding that command line snapshot will not support new Learn capabilities. When the decision to no longer support the command line snapshot tools is made you will be notified with sufficient advance notice to be able to adopt the SIS Framework integration type of choice.

Snapshot Command Line Tools were formally removed from Blackboard Learn 9.1 in the Q2 2017 release.

Can SIS integration manage existing courses and users?

Courses and users that already exist in your system can be managed going forward and updated with an SIS integration as long as the following requirements are met:

  • Courses: The batchUid from the feed must match the existing course. This is the same for as the course_id for manually created courses and can vary if the courses were created by another data integration.
  • Enrollments: Users can be enrolled in any course as long as the data in the enrollment feed identifying the user matches the batchUid of the user in Blackboard Learn.
  • IMS/XML integration types: Integrate existing courses, and then enroll existing users.
  • Data: The existing course and user data must be in the correct Data Source Key.

More on Data Source Keys

Can I have multiple integrations?

You may use multiple integrations to provide data for creating Learn objects. Note however that it is the integration type that 'owns' the data and not the Data Source Key and that you should select and configure your integrations with an eye toward ensuring that each integration acts on specific sets of data.

I am receiving Data Errors when trying to update objects created with a previously installed integration type using a newly added Integration of a different type - what is wrong?

The 9.1 SP6-SP11 SIS Framework Integration Types do not support manipulation of different types. For example: An LIS integration type is not able to alter data created with an SIS Integration Snapshot Flat File type. It is recommended to stay within the boundaries of integrations types for sets of data. If you have concerns please contact Learn Support.

I am receiving a Data Source Key not found error even though I have my integration set to use the incoming Data Source Key - what is wrong?

Data Source Keys must be created in advance of use by an integration - See section on Creating Data Source Keys under Data Source Key Management.

How do I perform Integration testing?

See individual integration type docs for test data and processes.