How Do I Connect to Kimono with the PowerSchool SIF Agent?

Document created by Mike Cotterman Employee on May 10, 2017Last modified by CJ Donio on May 16, 2018
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Summary:

This guide was created to help you connect your PowerSchool SIF Agent to Kimono for the Kimono SIS Platform integration for Canvas.

 

SIF Overview:

You might be asking yourself "What exactly is SIF?" - SIF is a standard developed by Access 4 Learning (A4L) to help learning and education tools have a common language, so they can share information. Different education tool vendors support various levels and versions of SIF. We support SIF version 2 via our partnership with Kimono. Still want more information? Check out some of the introductory resources on the A4L SIF site (you might want to check out the SIF 101 video in the Videos section for a basic introduction).

 

Why SIF?

You may also be wondering "Why SIF?" Our new Kimono SIS Platform is standards-based, meaning we are using open education data standards like SIF, OneRoster, CSV, etc. Currently, SIF is used by hundreds of districts throughout the United States (we have implemented over 330+ onto our new platform). 

There are a few benefits associated with SIF:

  • Integration into existing SIF or state reporting frameworks
  • The ability to access certain fields ("extended attributes") not normally available for use in an API integration
  • In order to implement PowerTeacher Pro (based on the proprietary PS APIs) with Canvas, you will need to move to the new SIS Platform and use SIF for provisioning. 

 

Step 1

 

The first thing you need to do is get the ZIS connection information if you do not already have it. You need the ZIS URL and the Zone ID to connect your PS SIF Agent to our Kimono SIS Platform. Don't have this information? Just ask your Canvas CSM or IC for this key information. 

 

NOTE: If you are already connected to Kimono for other integrations you can skip straight to Step 5 if you are locally hosted OR if you are hosted by PowerSchool you only need to let PowerSchool support know about the changes to the configuration that are needed.

 

Step 2

 

You now need to know if you (or your region or state) are hosting PowerSchool on your own servers (virtual or physical) or if you are hosted by PowerSchool.

(HINT: If your PowerSchool URL ends with powerschool.com then you are hosted by PowerSchool)

 

Click the relevant link below to continue

 


 

 

 

 

 

Self Hosted PowerSchool

 

Step 3 (Local)

 

The next part of the install requires that you install the PowerSchool SIF agent if you do not already have it installed.

 

You can download the most recent PowerSchool SIF agent from the PowerSource web site if you have proper access. The links below link directly to the SIF agent area of PowerSource at the time this guide was last updated (May 10, 2017). However, it is possible that there is a more recent version or different location that has been released since this article was last updated. You should install the most up to date version of the SIF agent unless you are required to use an older version for some reason.

 

 

If you need assitance installing or updating the PowerSchool SIF agent please contact PowerSchool support. You can find contact information for the PowerSchool Data Solutions team on the documentation link for the SIF agent when you click the link above.

 

If the links are not working for you please contact PowerSchool support for assitance. It is possible the link has changed or your PowerSource account does not have access to the SIF agent and documentation.

 

Please install version 3.3+ of the PS SIF Agent in order to access the StaffUsername field!

 

Step 4 (Local)

 

You now need to connect the SIF agent to the ZIS. This may be part of the installation process if you have just installed the SIF agent or you may need to refer to the PowerSchool SIF agent documentation for assitance on how to add the connection to an existing ZIS server.

 

Either way, here is the information you will need:

  • ZIS URL (from Step 1)
  • Zone ID (from Step 1)
  • Mode: Pull (SIF Agent Console/Agent Settings/Registration/Messaging Mode)

If the Mode is set to Push, the connection will fail. 

  • Method: HTTP (SIF Agent Console/Agent Settings/Protocol)
    • Use HTTP method if this is your only ZIS connection. The https:// in your ZIS URL will still connect your agent to the ZIS using HTTPS.
    • If you must use the HTTPS method then you will need to add the Kimono certificate to your Java trusted certificates or you will receive an error when you attempt to connect. The necessary SSL certificate is the same certificate used to secure Kimono's website.

 

Please review the steps above very carefully - if your mode or method are not correct, the connection WILL NOT work properly.

 

Step 5 (Local)

 

Modify your agent.cfg to add a couple of extra fields to the data you are sending via SIF. A document containing information on these changes can be found in the Attachments section of this article.

 

After you have made the needed changes please restart your SIF agent for them to take effect.

 

Please review the agent.cfg after restarting the SIF Agent to verify added mappings are still present. If changes do not remain, please try again ensuring the agent.cfg has been properly saved.

 

Step 6 (Local)

You may encounter issues  (e.g. no connection, too much or too little data flowing to Canvas, etc.) if the settings below are not properly reviewed and set in the SIF Agent console before continuing.

Verify the following areas in the SIF Agent Console:

  • School Year (SIF Agent Console/Agent Settings/Default Zone Settings/School Year) make sure your school year is set to the appropriate school year
  • Plug-ins - (SIF Agent Console/Agent Settings/Plugins/) in order for the SIF Agent to properly connect to our Kimono SIS Platform, PowerSchool must disable State Messaging Plugins for your SIF Agent for the Canvas connection specifically.
    • NOTE: If you are using SMP for state reporting, please work with PowerSchool to properly disable the Canvas connection only.
  • Verify the Zone Status - (SIF Agent Console/Zone Settings/Zone/General/) make sure the zone is showing as "ready" on this screen.
  • Disable Unnecessary or Inactive Schools - (SIF Agent Console/Zone Settings/Zone/District) make sure Completed schools OR schools you do not want to be included in the Canvas data sync are deselected from this screen.

 

Step 7 (Local)

Before moving any further, please restart your SIF to ensure all changes for mappings (agent.cfg), school year, school filtering, etc. remain in place.

When you have gotten to this point please let your IC or CSM know that you should be all set and we can test out the connection.

 

That is it for setting up the SIF agent! If there are any issues your IC or CSM will let you know and we can troubleshoot from there.

 

Click here for information on setting up grade pass back.

 


 

 

 

 

 

PowerSchool Hosted

 

Step 3 (Hosted)

 

To get the SIF agent setup and configured you will need to open a ticket with PowerSchool hosting support requesting that they setup your SIF agent and connect it to Kimono. Please send then the following information in your ticket:

 

  • ZIS URL (from Step 1)
  • Zone ID (from Step 1)
  • Mode: Pull (SIF Agent Console/Agent Settings/Registration/Messaging Mode)

If the Mode is set to Push, the connection will fail.

  • Method: HTTP (SIF Agent Console/Agent Settings/Protocol)
    • Use HTTP method if this is your only ZIS connection. The https:// in your ZIS URL will still connect your agent to the ZIS using HTTPS.
    • If you must use the HTTPS method then you will need to add the Kimono certificate to your Java trusted certificates or you will receive an error when you attempt to connect. The necessary SSL certificate is the same certificate used to secure Kimono's website.
  • The SIF mappings document in the Attachments section of this article.
    • This document contains some changes that need to be applied to your SIF agent config.

Please review the steps above very carefully - if your mode or method are not correct, the connection WILL NOT work properly.

 

Please also provide guidance to PowerSchool on the following:

You may encounter issues  (e.g. no connection, too much or too little data flowing to Canvas, etc.) if the settings below are not properly reviewed and set by PowerSchool in the SIF Agent console before continuing.

  • School Year (SIF Agent Console/Agent Settings/Default Zone Settings/School Year) make sure PowerSchool sets your school year to the appropriate school year
  • Plug-ins - (SIF Agent Console/Agent Settings/Plugins/) in order for the SIF Agent to properly connect to our Kimono SIS Platform, PowerSchool must disable State Messaging Plugins for your SIF Agent for the Canvas connection specifically.
    • NOTE: If you are using SMP for state reporting, please work with PowerSchool to properly disable the Canvas connection only.
  • Disable Unnecessary or Inactive Schools - (SIF Agent Console/Zone Settings/Zone/District) make sure Completed schools OR schools you do not want to be included in the Canvas data sync are deselected by PowerSchool.

 

Step 4 (Hosted)

 

Once you receive confirmation from PowerSchool that your SIF agent is ready to go please let your IC or CSM know and we can test out the connection.

 

That is it for setting up the SIF agent! If there are any issues your IC or CSM will let you know and we can troubleshoot from there.

 

Click here for information on setting up grade pass back.

 


 

 

 

 

 

Grade Pass Back Information

 

We provide the option to setup teacher initiated grade pass back for PowerTeacher. Please click the relevant link below for information on the next steps for setting up the connect for grade pass back. The article below provides information on installing or updating the Canvas PowerSchool plugin.

 

Installing the PowerSchool XML Plugin in Powerschool (PTP or legacy compatible) 

 


 

SIF Agent Troubleshooting

1. Q: I'm being told that the mappings I added to the agent.cfg are not coming over properly when a sync runs in the Kimono SIS Platform - what can I do?

A: You should always try restarting your SIF Agent in this scenario. In addition, you (locally hosted) or PowerSchool (cloud hosted) will need to verify that mappings remain in the agent.cfg file after the agent is restarted. 

 

2. Q: Data from previous school years is coming over from PowerSchool to Canvas and I don't want it to. 

A: Navigate to SIF Agent Console/Agent Settings/Default Zone Settings/School Year and make sure you (locally hosted) or PowerSchool (cloud hosted) sets your school year to the appropriate school year. In addition, there's also a setting on certain data objects that allows you to select "future" or "current". Please talk to PowerSchool for more information. 

 

3. Q: I am seeing data from schools I do not want shared with Canvas OR students from past years. How do I limit our sync to only schools I want to include?

A: This setting is on the PS SIF Agent. You will either need to work with PowerSchool (cloud hosted) or select/deselect these schools yourself (locally hosted) at SIF Agent Console/Zone Settings/Zone/District.

 

4. Q: I'm being told to disable SMP for Canvas. What do I do?

A: Work with PowerSchool (cloud hosted) or navigate here yourself (locally hosted) SIF Agent Console/Agent Settings/Plugins/ in the SIF Agent Console to disable SMP. If you are using SIF for state reporting, please work with PowerSchool to get this properly disabled for just Canvas.

 

 

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