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Insights/Analytics API Setup

See AWS Setup to set up AWS resources and prepare secure configuration.

See Director Setup for details on how to set up the ansible deployment "director" instance.

Shell into the director instance, launch the virtualenv, and go to the playbooks dir:

workon edx-configuration
cd configuration/playbooks


Deploy Insights and the Analytics API using the using openedx/configuration roles. See analytics_single.yml for an example playbook and see vars-analytics.yml for example variables to use with this playbook.

Ensure that your playbook(s) are located on your director instance under configuration/playbooks.

Variables and SSH Keys

Clone your secure repo (see Sensitive Data) into the home directory.

Update vars-analytics.yml to override default variables used in openedx/configuration roles.

If you are splitting these services across multiple EC2 instances, then you'll need to also override ANALYTICS_API_NGINX_PORT and ANALYTICS_API_ENDPOINT.

Run Ansible

You might want to enable logging ansible output into a file. Just don't forget to clean it up periodically, ansible only appends to that file (and running multiple tasks result in output mixed).

To log to a file, update configuration/playbooks/ansible.cfg:


You may also want to create a screen session to run ansible in, just in case your network drops out during provisioning, which can take some time. See this screen quick reference and the GNU screen Users Manual for help using screen.

Run the playbook(s) created above using the following arguments:

  • -i "<analytics-ip>,": The internal IP address of your Insights/Analytics API EC2 instance. Note the trailing comma.
  • -u ubuntu: User on the analytics EC2 instance with sudo access.
  • -e @/path/to/vars.yml: Extra variables used to override the defaults. Note that analytics ansible script uses some edxapp-related variables. There are two ways to supply them:
  • Use two *-vars.yml files, and supply them both to ansible (as in example below). Variables defined in subsequent -e arguments take precedence.
  • Merge the two into single vars.yml file.
  • --private-key=/path/to/analytics.pem: The SSH key file used to access your analytics instance(s).
  • --vvvv: Optional verbosity setting. The more vs you give, the more ansible will log.

Example run:

ansible-playbook -i "," \
                 -e @/home/ubuntu/secure-config/edxapp-vars.yml -e @/home/ubuntu/secure-config/vars-analytics.yml \
                 -u ubuntu \
                 --private-key=/home/ubuntu/secure-config/analytics.pem \

Wait for it to complete.


2016-04-20 10:13:59,565 p=20676 u=ubuntu |  FATAL: all hosts have already failed -- aborting

This "error" message is a bit misleading, but about 50-60 lines above it is the actual error message:

stderr: CommandError: An error occured during rendering /anything/anything/anything_template.html:
Exception in thread "main" java.lang.UnsupportedClassVersionError: com/google/javascript/jscomp/CommandLineRunner
: Unsupported major.minor version 51.0

Ansible installs the Java™ 6 (java-6-openjdk-amd64 package), which is incompatible with the Closure (?) compiler. To fix this, make sure java-7 is installed, update alternatives to use java 7, manually run failed command on instance, than restart ansible script:

ubuntu@director> ssh -i analytics.pem ubuntu@analytics_ip
ubuntu@analytics> sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk -y
ubuntu@analytics> sudo apt-get update-alternatives --config java  # interactive session - choose entry with
ubuntu@analytics> sudo -Hu insights bash
insights@analytics> cd
insights@analytics> . insights_env
insights@analytics> . venvs/insights/bin/activate
(insights)insights@analytics> cd edx_analytics_dashboard
(insights)insights@analytics> cd edx_analytics_dashboard
(insights)insights@analytics> ./ compress
... wait for it ...
(insights)insights@analytics> Ctrl-D
ubuntu@analytics> Ctrl-D
ubuntu@director> # rerun ansible task


Insights OAuth2

OAuth2 application setup is handled by the oauth_client_setup ansible role, which is also run by the openedx_native.yml playbook. So whenever you're running ansible, you need to make sure that the variables for the INSIGHTS_OAUTH2_APP_CLIENT_NAME config block are always provided, even when you're not provisioning the Insights service.

Note: the OAuth2 configuration for Insights is broken on juniper.master, and was fixed for later versions by configuration PR#5967.

Analytics Pipeline OAuth2 client

Do this step only if your client requires the Problem Response Reports.

This client is used by the analytics pipeline ProblemResponseReportWorkflow task to fetch course list and course blocks data from the LMS REST API.

  1. Follow these instructions to Setup OAuth Client for Internal Services (Django Oauth Toolkit version) for the analytics data service. Note: There's no need to set the SOCIAL_AUTH_* variables on the analytics data API service as described in these instructions; this step can be skipped.
  2. Update your analytics-override.cfg to add this stanza, using the service-sso credentials.
    client_id: <service-sso-key>
    client_secret: <service-sso-secret>
    auth_url: https://lms.domain.tld/oauth2/access_token

Verify Insights

When ansible finishes, you should be able to go to Insights URL and log in into it using LMS as OAuth2 identity provider.


Insights settings are located in /edx/etc/insights.yml on the Insights EC2 instance. It should contain variables from your vars-analytics.yml.

  • No response from Insights at all:
  • Check that you're using correct port
  • Check that port is open in analytics Security Group (and Insights EC2 instance has that Security Group assigned)
  • Check HTTP/HTTPS (if using HTTPS, don't forget to set INSIGHTS_NGINX_SSL_PORT in vars-analytics.yml)
  • Check that Elastic IP is assigned to the correct instance (especially when adding anayltics-2, analytics-3, etc.)
  • Can't log in to Insights - most of such errors are due to broken OAuth2 configuration.
  • Clicking "Login" in Insights takes to 404 page in LMS. Most likely LMS OAuth2 provider is disabled. Check that FEATURES[ENABLE_OAUTH2_PROVIDER] is set to true in /edx/app/edxapp/*.env.vars.
  • Successfully authenticates to LMS, but some error happens later.
    • In LMS: invalid_request The requested redirect didn't match the client settings. - make sure OAuth2 Client is configured with correct Insights endpoint:
    • Go to LMS_URL/admin/oauth2/clients, select the Insights client, and make sure Redirect field contains the correct URL, using http or https as appropriate for your setup.
    • Check SOCIAL_AUTH_REDIRECT_IS_HTTPS is set to true for HTTPS Insights and to false for HTTP Insights. It is taken from INSIGHTS_SOCIAL_AUTH_REDIRECT_IS_HTTPS ansible var.
    • Check EDXAPP_LMS_BASE_SCHEME - sets LMS scheme (HTTP/HTTPS). This setting is also used for OAuth2 authentication, as part of issuer string, used by OAuth2 clients (i.e. Insights). LMS OAuth2 provider uses actual host, so if redirect to HTTPS is enabled, actual OAuth2 responses will have issuer set to https://LMS_URL, even if this setting is set to http, causing OAuth2 clients to cancel authentication. Recommended value: https if LMS uses HTTPS, http otherwise.
    • In LMS: unauthorized_client An unauthorized client tried to access your resources. - Insights setting SOCIAL_AUTH_EDX_OIDC_KEY was not found among LMS' OAuth2 Clients' Client ID. Check that LMS Client ID matches INSIGHTS_OAUTH2_KEY variable value.
    • In LMS ... request cancelled... - this happens when LMS can't confirm authenticity of the request, which means that INSIGHTS_OAUTH2_SECRET Insights setting does not match with Client Secret value in LMS OAuth2 client.
    • In Insights: 500 response and AuthCanceled: Authentication process cancelled in /edx/var/log/insights/edx.log - means that Insights was not able to decrypt LMS response - it happens in two cases:
    • Insights setting SOCIAL_AUTH_EDX_OIDC_SECRET does not match Client secret in LMS
    • Insights setting SOCIAL_AUTH_EDX_OIDC_ID_TOKEN_DECRYPTION_KEY does not match SOCIAL_AUTH_EDX_OIDC_SECRET - should not normally happen, as they are taken from the same variable.
  • Insights home shows 500 after logging in, and /edx/var/log/insights/edx.log shows something like:

    ProgrammingError: (1146, "Table 'dashboard.soapbox_message' doesn't exist")

    To fix this, run syncdb as the insights user:

    sudo -u insights -Hs
    source ~/insights_env
    cd ~/edx_analytics_dashboard
    ./ migrate --run-syncdb

    cf openedx-analytics post

  • If the ImportEnrollmentsIntoMysql task hasn't run yet, then the home page of Insights may return a 500 error, and /edx/var/log/insights/edx.log will show something like:

    NotFoundError: Resource was not found on the API server.

However, this only affects the home course list page. The inner course-specific analytics pages will display fine.

  • Even after the ImportEnrollmentsIntoMysql task has run, the home page of Insights is still returning a 500 error, and /edx/var/log/insights/edx.log shows something like:
    ClientError: Resource "course_summaries/" returned status code 500

And /edx/var/log/analytics-api/edx.log shows something like:

    TypeError: unsupported operand type(s) for +: 'int' and 'NoneType'

This issue happens because the analytics pipeline creates tables and fields that the Analytics API accesses, but it doesn't create them using the default values that the Analytics API expects. This should be fixed properly in the code someday, but to work around it, run this on the reports database:

    mysql> alter table course_meta_summary_enrollment alter passing_users set default 0;
    mysql> update course_meta_summary_enrollment set passing_users=0 where passing_users is Null;
  • There is no data in Insights - that's actually ok, we haven't run any pipeline tasks yet.

Configure Insights

The Insights application has a number of waffle feature flags and switches which are disabled by default. These can be used to disable new features, so that they can be enabled when and if the data becomes ready.

Feature "flags" can be enabled for specific groups of users using these arguments:

  • --everyone: Activate flag for all users.
  • --deactivate: Deactivate flag for all users.
  • --percent=PERCENT: Roll out the flag for a certain percentage of users. Takes a number between 0.0 and 100.0
  • --superusers: Turn on the flag for Django superusers.
  • --staff: Turn on the flag for Django staff.
  • --authenticated: Turn on the flag for logged in users.

Run the following command on your Insights instance from within the Insights env:

sudo -u insights -Hs
source ~/insights_env
cd ~/edx_analytics_dashboard

To create and enable a given feature flag, e.g. to give everyone access to the learner analytics:

./ waffle_flag display_learner_analytics --everyone --create --settings=analytics_dashboard.settings.production

Feature "switches" are either on or off. Use this command to enable CSV downloads from learner analytics:

./ waffle_switch enable_learner_download on --create --settings=analytics_dashboard.settings.production

To list the current flags and switches, use the --list argument:

~/edx_analytics_dashboard/ waffle_flag --list --settings=analytics_dashboard.settings.production
~/edx_analytics_dashboard/ waffle_switch --list --settings=analytics_dashboard.settings.production

See Insights/README for a full list of flags/switches. We commonly enable these features:

  • enable_course_api (switch): allows course information to be fetched from the Analytics API. Requires the Analytics API to be running and configured to allow Insights users to authenticate.
  • display_names_for_course_index (switch): shows the list of available courses as fetched from the Analytics API. Also requires the Analytics API.
  • display_course_name_in_nav (switch): shows course names instead of IDs in GUI. Also requires the Analytics API.
  • enable_engagement_videos_pages (switch): shows video engagement page. Also requires the Analytics API.
  • display_learner_analytics (flag): shows the Learner Analytics tab. Requires the ModuleEngagementWorkflowTask to be run to populate the charts.
  • enable_learner_download (switch): shows a "Download CSV" button on the Learner Analytics page. Requires the display_learner_analytics flag to be enabled, and its associated tasks to be run.
  • enable_problem_response_download: shows a "Download CSV" link on the Performance tab. Enable only if your client requires these reports. Run the ProblemResponseReportWorkflow pipeline task to generate reports for download.

Last update: 2022-05-13