What's New With SDS?
Welcome to the School Data Sync “What’s New” page. We are continuously improving the service with new features and updates that make School Data Sync (SDS) easy to set up and use. Bookmark this page so you can stay on top of the latest improvements in SDS.
Latest Features and Updates
Improved Performance and Sync Processing
SDS is making some significant changes to how we sync data, resulting in a massive performance improvement for SDS admins. Reduced sync times and number of calls to SIS providers' endpoints, ensure minimal perf impact to the source system when pulling the data to O365. Our testing has demonstrated 20% improvement on Max Sync time and reduced “sync cycle delay” from 40 mins to 20 mins.
New SIS Providers supporting fully automated API sync using OneRoster API
SDS just released OneRoster API sync and support for inLogic, Aeries, and eSchoolData Student Information Systems. If you’re running these SISes, you can enable a direct API connection and sync data between your SIS and Office 365, to create Teams, Groups, OneNote Class Notebooks, and manage Intune Policy with ease. This adds to our list of already deployed SIS partners including Infinite Campus, Classlink, and Capita SIMS.
Simplifying Student Schema in SDS
On December 5, 2018, SDS simplified its schema for Students synced to Office 365. SDS stopped writing certain attributes to Azure Active Directory (AAD). See Simplifying Student Schema for more information.
SDS launches a new file upload and sync process using Microsoft Flow
The School Data Sync (SDS) team just announced the availability of a new, simpler way to upload your files to SDS and keep them in sync. We have automated CSV synchronization in SDS, moving the process from a Windows scheduled task into Microsoft Flow. The new process makes managing and monitoring file uploads easier as Flow visualizes a history of file uploads and the results of each stage of the upload process. Click here to try it!
SDS launched new features that support Term Transition and Expired Class Management
SDS launched several features that enable bulk management and cleanup of all classes synced. This article explains those features including running cleanup, class renaming, removing access,and class team archiving in detail.
Changes to Filtering Objects for Syncing with PowerSchool SIS and OneRoster APIs
SDS now allows IT admins to choose not to sync “inactive” students in PowerSchool through a new option to filter them of the sync. Before the changes, the default state of the PowerSchool SIS API would sync all students including the inactive categories of “graduated”, “dropped out,” and “transferred out” as referenced below. For more information, please read this reference article.
SDS now allows IT admins to choose not to sync “to be deleted” students, teachers, classes, and schools in the OneRoster API through a new option to filter them of the sync. Before the changes, the default state of the OneRoster API would sync all objects including the categories of “active” and “to be deleted.” For more information, please read this reference article
SIS/MIS providers that use the OneRoster API standard can now connect directly with SDS
SDS released a new connector that can enable a direct API connection from any SIS/MIS that has adopted the OneRoster API standard, and synchronize it directly to Azure AD and Office 365. At launch, partners that work with the connector are Infinite Campus, Classlink, and Capita SIMS.
Changes to the SDS CSV file Validation Process
SDS has modified its CSV file validation process to make it more efficient for users. SDS will put CSV files through a basic followed by an advanced validation process.
Basic validation errors are found as soon as files are uploaded and are related to format of files. These errors will show up on the file upload dialog box. If basic validation errors are found, SDS will not accept the files. Users are provided with a list of errors that need to be fixed. If there are no errors, files are accepted and advanced validation is triggered.
During advanced validation, SDS looks for data errors in the files. For example, if a student is referenced in the studentenrollment file but the student is not present in the student file, this would show up as an advanced validation error. These types of errors will show up on the profile details page as “Critical errors blocking sync”. If advanced validation errors are found, SDS does not accept the files. Users are provided a list of errors that need to be fixed. If there are no errors, files are accepted and the sync is triggered.
For more details, please click here
Changes to CSV sync status update
Once sync has completed for the first time, if users upload new CSV files through the SDS user interface, users will no longer go through the preview stage and will go straight to syncing data into their directory. Please note that “Reset Sync” will clear the subsequent sync state and causes the profile to go through preview again.
You can now customize your e-mail notification settings.
One the Settings page, you can choose whether to receive e-mail notifications in the form of sync status snapshots, and with what frequency, daily or weekly.
Section groups have been added to School Administrative Units
We have added section-based groups to a school's administrative unit (AU), building an association between sections and schools. If you use Powershell or Graph Explorer, you will now see section groups within the membership list. You can also query for the AU’s memberships,and it will now return sections in addition to teachers and students.
OneRoster API is now in Preview:
SDS now offers the OneRoster API sync method. OneRoster is a Student Information System (SIS) formatting standard, which SIS vendors implement for API access and connectivity from various solutions like SDS. Any OneRoster API capable SIS can now configure a direct connection between their SIS and Office 365, and begin importing student, teachers, section, and rostering data for use by our 1st party and 3rd party applications. You will no longer need to use and manage CSV files to import and synchronize data with Azure AD.
SDS now supports enrollment files up to 2 million rows:
SDS now supports CSV files up to 2 million rows within a single sync profile. Previously, you would be required to split your CSV files up as you reached the 1 million row limit. Now SDS supports syncing with CSVs up to 2 million rows per file. This helps large districts limit the number of CSV file sets they have to export and reduces the number of profiles required to sync their entire district, potentially increasing sync performance.
SDS now automatically enables Intune for Education:
SDS now automatically creates School-based security groups for each School within the sync profile, if you have at least 1 Intune for Education license present in your tenant. These security groups can be used within Intune for Education for school based policy configurations, in addition to various other uses across O365 core services. You are no longer required to check the Intune for Education checkbox in the profile setup wizard to complete this action. The checkbox is still present within the profile setup wizard though. By selecting this checkbox, you will automatically license every student and teacher within the sync profile for Intune for Education.
SDS now auto-replaces special characters with an underscore:
SDS will now automatically replace special characters in class SIS IDs with an “ _” in the group name with the click of a button. Previously, you had to manually correct the class SIS ID and names with special characters.
School Data Sync now works with Microsoft Teams:
School Data Sync now creates classes for Microsoft Teams in Office 365 for Education, which has many improvements over Classroom Preview. It’s easy to get started – just create a new sync profile, and SDS will automatically sync classes for Teams. When a teacher signs in to Teams, Teams will automatically display her synced classes and prepare them for her students. Classes for Classroom Preview are not compatible with Microsoft Teams, and Classroom Preview will be decommissioned on the following dates:
- July 31st, 2017 for customers in the Northern Hemisphere
- January 31st, 2018 for customers in the Southern Hemisphere
On these dates, School Data Sync will also stop syncing existing sync profiles for Microsoft Classroom, but SDS will not delete the content in these classes. Classroom Preview content will remain accessible in the Group Sites and Group inboxes after Classroom Preview is decommissioned.
Click here to sign up for free help to get started or transition from Classroom to Teams.
Remove unused classes with new tools in School Data Sync:
Many customers love using School Data Sync to automatically create all their online classes. But they’ve also asked for a feature to let them remove the classes that haven’t been used. Now you can generate a file that contains a list of all your classes, including the ones that have not been used by Microsoft Classroom. You can then use a PowerShell script to remove the classes that haven’t been used.
Click here to sign up for free help to manage your classes.
Import CSV files in Clever format:
Many customers use Clever, a third-party solution, to create and sync classes. School Data Sync now imports files in Clever CSV format. If you already have files in Clever CSV format, you can now conveniently import them to School Data Sync.
Click here to sign up for free help to get started with CSV files in Clever format.
Changes to Clever sync:
Clever API integration with School Data Sync has been decommissioned. If you previously used Clever with SDS, Microsoft will provide you with free, one-on-one consulting to help you transition to another sync method.
Click here to sign up for free help to transition from Clever API sync to another sync method.
Improved sync status and health indicators:
Many customers requested improvements to view sync status. School Data Sync now displays the stages of a sync, so you can get a better estimate of when a sync will complete. SDS also shows you when a sync is complete or needs attention.
Plan for the next term with delayed sync enrollments:
School Data Sync now includes one of our most requested features! Many customers love using School Data Sync to create all their online classes. But customers typically like to create these classes weeks or even months before the school year begins. In the past, using SDS before the term allowed students to get a sneak peek of their classes and classmates.
Now, you can use SDS to delay syncing student enrollments, so that students cannot view their classes ahead of time. Just select a date when creating a new sync profile.
Pre-sync validation for CSV files now does error checking before running sync:
School Data Sync now offers inline pre-sync validation for data being imported through SDS. You no longer need to use the SDS Toolkit to validate your data before importing. Now SDS will complete the data validation process prior to enabling sync. If errors are detected, you will receive a downloadable error report in the UI, and have an opportunity to correct the data being imported before running the actual sync. You will also have the option to ignore the pre-sync errors in our validation process and continue with sync anyway.
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