2021 Digital AP Exam app from College Board

Steve117
New Contributor II

Greetings,

As anyone come across the 2021 Digital AP Exam app trying to update the cb-exam-player and prompting the end user for administrative credentials?

Our student computers are running 10.15 and are locked down to prevent installs by the students.

I've white listed, in a config profile, the locations of the cb-exam-player file, and the end users are still prompted for an admins username and password.

Thanks for the help.

32 REPLIES 32

Jerchau
New Contributor

I had the same issue. I just added the new version (0.9.1) into Jamf and pushed the newer version out. It would have been nice if it updated without the admin user/pass like DRC does. Oh well.

Steve117
New Contributor II

Thanks Jerchau, I'll give that a shot.

Mike_Meyers1
Contributor

The automatic update will not work if it is installed to the Applications folder and a new version becomes available. But, students can install it by dragging it to their Desktop if you give them the link to do it themselves. Then they should have permission to update it themselves. We found out this the same way and ended up just repackaging the 0.9.1 update, and having them reinstall from Self Service. The College Board install instructions do not give this info. We will just keep packaging the software whenever it is updated.

Chris_Hafner
Valued Contributor II

Yep, agreed with all here... though I should have tried it as a mobile app (Dragging to desktop). We will keep repackaging because they said so (Thanks for the reminder @Mike_Meyers )

GabeShack
Valued Contributor II

My favorite right now is that students who need to take the written version with accommodations, need to use a "word processor" with spell check, and grammar check disabled....which isn't too bad, but then it also states that copy and paste needs to be disabled. In however many hundreds of pages of their documentation, they don't give any idea on how to accomplish this.

I think maybe they meant typewriter, instead of word processor.

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

drioux
Contributor

I am jumping into this kiddie pool of fun.

So, we normally manage our students to not have any level of installation rights, and desktop Apps are disallowed. We had been packaging this App up for users, on both version 0.9.0 and 0.9.1, but now the following edict came out from College Board. I wanted to see what other's thoughts are on this, especially if you are still packaging the App up.

CB email:

Any installation of the app on both Windows and Mac school-managed devices requires the following three configuration settings:

  1. Installed to user profiles. The testing app must be installed to the user profile and shouldn't be pushed as a system-level install. Installation to the user profile is required because each student individually receives and takes a specific version of the AP Exam.

  2. With "write access" to profile folders. The testing app must be installed such that each user can write to their profile folder because the testing app will (1) load the student's specific exam to the testing device during the "exam setup" step 1–3 days prior to test day; and (2) save student responses as students take the exam. These features are designed to provide resilience to potential disruptions to internet connectivity during the exam.

  3. Able to accept auto-updates. The testing app must be installed to a user writable folder so that each time the user launches the app, the app can auto-update as needed. Updates will be released on a regular basis to allow for ongoing improvements. The next update of the application will be released before the end of this week.

Without these settings enabled, the testing app won't function properly on the testing device, and students won't be able to use the device to take a digital AP Exam. If you shared the application without the three required configurations, you should update your configurations and make the app available to your students again.

Lcer_Helpdesk
New Contributor II

My school is in the same spot as drioux. We don't usually allow any apps to run outside of the /Applications directory and our students don't have upgrade rights. Obviously we'll have to make exceptions, but I'm curious how other school's are going to handle this situation.

GabeShack
Valued Contributor II

I'm working on redoing this now as well. If I'm understanding this correctly, the only issue is really the updates being allowed to be done by the local standard users. Since the users in most cases would be able to write to their respective "profile folders" that doesnt seem to be an issue.

What if permissions were set to allow "everyone" read and write access to their app in the normal Applications folder? Wouldn't that allow the app to be updated without having it needing to be installed locally? Its really such a horrible developed app, and they should have made a launch agent to do the updates with root permissions.

Otherwise if that wont work, we will have to delete our current install of this, and then create a composer package with it saved to the desktop and then fill existing users. Such non-sense and I hope the College Board/ETS is reading this forum.

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

cbrewer
Valued Contributor II

You could just fully manage the process. Create a smart group to look for versions on this app older than 0.9.1. Then either run a script to install the app or package it yourself and deploy from a distribution point.

You could also get the app added to installomater.

My own basic script to download and install this app...

#!/bin/bash

# Automatically download and install 2021 Digital AP Exams

# Variables
appName="2021 Digital AP Exams.app"
#dmgName="2021+Digital+AP+Exams-0.9.2.dmg"
#downloadUrl="https://download.app.collegeboard.org/downloads"
dmgVolumePath="/Volumes/2021 Digital AP Exams"

tmpDir=$(mktemp -d)
echo "Temp dir set to ${tmpDir}"

# Start

# Attempt to automatically get DownloadUrl and DmgName
autoFullDownloadUrl=$(curl -LSs "https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/about-ap-2021/updates/digital-exams/download-testing-app" | grep "Download for Mac" -m 1 | awk -F'href=' '{print $NF}' | awk -F" '{print $2}')
autoDownloadUrl=$(echo $autoFullDownloadUrl | rev | cut -d'/' -f2- | rev)
autoDmgName=$(echo $autoFullDownloadUrl | awk -F'/' '{print $NF}')

if [[ "${autoDownloadUrl}" =~ ^https://. ]]; then
  downloadUrl=${autoDownloadUrl}
  echo "downloadUrl set to ${autoDownloadUrl}"
else
  echo "Failed to get downloadUrl"
  exit 1
fi
if [[ "${autoDmgName}" =~ .dmg$ ]]; then
  dmgName=${autoDmgName}
  echo "dmgName set to ${autoDmgName}"
else
  echo "Failed to get dmgName"
  exit 1
fi

appPath="/Applications/${appName}"

# List version
if [[ -d "${appPath}" ]]; then
  echo "${appName} version is $(defaults read "${appPath}"/Contents/Info.plist CFBundleShortVersionString)"
else
  echo "${appName} not installed"
fi

# Download DMG file into ${tmpDir}
curl -s ${downloadUrl}/${dmgName} -o "${tmpDir}/${dmgName}"

# Mount DMG File
hdiutil attach "${tmpDir}/${dmgName}" -nobrowse

# Check for successful download
if [[ ! -d "${dmgVolumePath}" ]]; then
    echo "Download unsuccessful"
    exit 1
fi

# Remove app if already installed
if [[ -d "${appPath}" ]]; then
    rm -R "${appPath}"
    echo "Removed existing copy of ${appName} from /Applications directory"
fi

# Copy application to /Applications/
cp -R "${dmgVolumePath}/${appName}" /Applications/

# Unmount the DMG file
hdiutil detach "${dmgVolumePath}"

# Remove the downloaded DMG file
rm -f "${tmpDir}/${dmgName}"

# List version
if [[ -d "${appPath}" ]]; then
  echo "${appName} version is $(defaults read "${appPath}"/Contents/Info.plist CFBundleShortVersionString)"
else
  echo "${appName} not installed"
  exit 1
fi

GabeShack
Valued Contributor II

I guess my problem with this is, they aren't alerting us when new versions hit. The above note states a new version is coming this week. So 0.9.1 I'm guessing would change to 0.9.2.

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

Sandy
Valued Contributor II

fun party! I have cart Macs running 10.14.6
I have repackaged their app so it installs to a LOCAL profile (root level) that we use for assessments.
The app opens, and .....seems fine.... Anyone find out if there's a way to use a "fake student" to test the installation, see where the files go?
What needs to be removed to use that computer for a new student (once the first one is done)?

drioux
Contributor

They just released 0.9.2 via the App's internal updater, it is not available in their downloads yet.

GabeShack
Valued Contributor II

Its on the downloads....link is https://download.app.collegeboard.org/downloads/2021+Digital+AP+Exams-0.9.2.dmg

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

nstrauss
Contributor II

Hi College Board. If you're reading this, please consult at least one actual K12 system admin next time. This app pretty much breaks every rule pertaining to how actual schools manage software installs and updates.

My contribution to this thread is AutoPkg recipes to download and package the latest 2021 Digital AP Exams version. If you aren't already an AutoPkg user, now might be a good time to start!

  1. Install AutoPkg. https://github.com/autopkg/autopkg
  2. Open Terminal.
  3. Run autopkg repo-add nstrauss-recipes
  4. Run autopkg run 2021DigitalAPExams.pkg
  5. The latest DMG will be downloaded, app extracted, and packaged up. Check ~/Library/AutoPkg/Cache/com.github.nstrauss.pkg.2021DigitalAPExams for the package.

I do have other automation using JSSImporter to upload the package and smart group criteria to effectively auto-update, but that info could easily be its own post. This recipe is a good place to start. https://github.com/autopkg/nstrauss-recipes/tree/master/College%20Board

And again, no love towards College Board for making this already high stress test even more anxiety inducing by releasing multiple updates this close to the test window. Validate your software, release it once, and only update if there's a critical issue. Three releases in this short a timeframe tells me their development cycle is behind.

@cbrewer Thanks for your script, but that would only download version 0.9.1. It doesn't find newer versions when a release inevitably happens. That's one reason why I like AutoPkg. It has built in tools/processors to scrape a web page to find the latest version.

nstrauss
Contributor II

And of course 0.9.2 only sits and spins for me. Won't even load the sign in page. Love it, College Board.

Lcer_Helpdesk
New Contributor II

Nstrauss, I noticed the same spinning earlier today whether I was launching 0.9.0 or 0.9.1.

Are you installing the app to /Applications or ~/Applications/? CollegeBoard says that students will need:

"write access" to profile folders

I'm uncertain if that means I need to give them write access to /Applications/2021 Digital AP Exams.app or if that means somewhere in ~/Library/Application Support/ ( you know like how every other app works).
I really don't like the idea of opening a giant security hole for one app.

cbrewer
Valued Contributor II

It is pretty great they have to put the version number into the dmg. I know it's not for everybody but I edited the script above to scrape the dmg name.

GabeShack
Valued Contributor II

@cbrewer Thanks for the script, makes things so much easier. Im not setup yet for Autopkg, but will once I get some time to dig into it. Other than the updates to the app, no one is seeing issues with it being installed in the reg /Applications folder? I did a composer capture when it ran its own update and it puts files in /~/Library/Application Support/cb-exam-player but otherwise I didn't see any local files trying to store in the app itself.

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

drioux
Contributor

After thinking about it, I decided to setup a Config that allows the App itself to be run from the Desktop and see how it runs for me as a Whitelisted "Allow Folder" open to '~/Desktop/2021 Digital AP Exams.app'. It ran well.

Fortunately, yesterday morning I had downloaded version 0.9.1, and then afternoon they happened to release 0.9.2 so I was able to see the "Desktop Install" of the App update on its own without issue... just like CB wants.

In the end the idea would be to have users get the lockdown browsers directly from College Board's website and copy it to their own desktop to get it to run. I would close the hole as soon as the testing is done, hopefully before too many kids put 2 and 2 together.

Despite everything the security side of my brain is screaming that this is a bad idea, I know that this works the way 'they' want it to run. And if they change their version mid-stream again, users will be able to update instantly.

Thoughts?

sirsir
Contributor

Even after updating to the latest (0.9.2) the app sits and spins at the splash screen.

GabeShack
Valued Contributor II

I have not been getting any spinning. Opens to the login screen. Wondering though if its their servers? We are in Princeton which is also where College Board is so maybe we have less hops to jump through.

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

mattscherer
New Contributor

I'm also stuck at the spinning splash screen with the latest release (0.9.2). Having this experience both when trying to update an existing install, or when trying to open a brand new install as a user with admin rights.

drioux
Contributor

I have had the spinning splash screen a bunch. Force Quit and relaunch worked 'most' times for me

This is going to be a trip for the next couple of weeks

Sandy
Valued Contributor II

In case anyone else tries... I spent hours yesterday trying to get support from CB.
The ONLY existing support that you can get to is "Installing the Application" which in itself is hilarious, since their installer is a drag and drop to the Applications folder...HA!
What I'm trying to find out is where all files are downloaded to, once a student logs in and proceeds to practice, and test. This does not seem to be too much to ask, and is needed in case we have to quickly flip computers for another test. But MORE than that, it seems like a requirement since we're putting their app on our computers. And what happens when they submit their test? Are their files deleted from the computer?

Anyhoo, I was transferred on the phone 5 times total. Everyone was perfectly nice and zero help. Then after I bailed out, I got a phone call, but again this person was not technical and was just "Clarifying my Questions" (AGAIN) for "LEVEL 2 SUPPORT" OOOOO.
On the bright side, I was able to test the update in place on a couple, and then since we just got started, I also updated my package with the new version....

sirsir
Contributor

The app isn't spinning anymore for me, thankfully. Here's what I did: I made a "Testing" folder in /Users/Shared and put the app inside that and gave everyone full permissions and then put a shortcut on the desktop and filled existing profiles. Seems to work in testing, but since I don't have a login to actually utilize the app I'm assuming it's good to go. Not sure if AutoUpdates is going to work as of now though.

Sandy
Valued Contributor II

In case this is useful to you, from CB:

The default location will be in: ~/Library/Application Support/cb-exam-player/

efarjami
New Contributor II

@Sandy That's correct. I logged in with the student account. Everything was saved on the cb-exam-player folder.

GabeShack
Valued Contributor II

@drioux Can I ask what you do to block standard users from installing any "Drag and Drop" programs on their user account?
Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

swallace
Contributor

Thanks for starting this chat. Did anyone send out an additional profile for the "write access" to folders? I just grabbed the DMG from College board and tossed it in Self Service. I'm concerned about the folder access.

I do see the cb-exam player folder on student devices.

Currently on hold hour #2 with College Board. Lots of transferring calls, but no solid answer just yet.

nstrauss
Contributor II

@swallace The path is ~/Library/Application Support/cb-exam-player As long as users have access to write to their own home directory (which they always almost do) then there shouldn't be a problem.

GabeShack
Valued Contributor II

Just a note,
We had a few students who could not complete the setup of the app before the test, but we were able to resolve it by removing that folder listed above and then run the setup and it worked fine.

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

swallace
Contributor

Thanks @nstrauss !