Ontario College Application Services

The 25 colleges located in the Canadian province of Ontario needed a way to share student information among each other. Students can easily transfer between schools because of standing agreements and academic standards. But, the sharing of information was not uniform; there were no common applications. Ontario College Application Services of Guelph, Ontario, was given the task of developing a set of common applications that all schools could use. Obviously, the Internet provided a universal network and Java nullified portability issues. As a proof of concept, Application Services developed a common test repository, where students applying to any one of the schools needed to take only one test, with all the schools having access to the results, explained Guy Morazain, executive director of Ontario College Application Services.

Morazain’s group looked at Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec’s Visual Café and Emeryville, Calif.-based Sybase Corp.’s PowerJ as possible Java development environments. PowerJ won out and the group standardized on it. Since the original proof of concept, Morazain’s group has added a number of applications to the Ontario College Common Information System, including rapid decision environment with virtual meeting capabilities and a mathematics testing system that can administer tests across the Internet. Students looking to transfer between colleges can enter their credentials into the Java-based system to see what credits can transfer with them, Morazain said.

The system, built with PowerJ on the front end communicating with a back-end Sybase database via a proprietary middleware, took three months to build after a year of planning. It was delivered in October 1997. "We used a thin client and avoided stored procedures," Morazain said.