Getting an email list for your class from Web For Faculty

For all the improvements Web For Faculty/Advisors may have over the old SIS system, it sure doesn’t make it easy to generate an email list from your class roll. I can see who’s in my class, click on a flagrant abuse of the HTML select element to see their permanent address, phone numbers, off-campus email address, and other such information, but if I actually want to use my class roll as data in some other application, I’m pretty well screwed. I seem to recall a procedure buried somewhere on the old SIS system that would generate a comma-separated file of student names, email addresses, or something similar, and I’d use those to make a spreadsheet for recording grades for the semester. There doesn’t seem to be such a feature in Web For Faculty/Advisors.

But since I’m far too lazy to type them all in myself, and I don’t have a grader or other underling to task with it, here’s what I did:

  1. Find your class roll, and then click on the “Send E-mail to Class” link.
  2. This will bring up a page with a link of the form “E-mail Group: Lastname1, Firstname1 Middlename1 to LastnameN, FirstnameN MiddlenameN”. This is a fairly clever mailto: link that puts all the students on a BCC list. Mind you, this doesn’t look like it will work in Thunderbird, since WFF formats the spaces after each comma as a %20 instead of an actual space, so the second through Nth email address are all of the form “”, but since I’m not going to actually hand this list to an email client, that’s ok by me.
  3. Right-click that link in Firefox, and select “Copy Email Address”.
  4. Open up your trusty Unix-style shell prompt (you do run MacOS X, Cygwin, or have an account on a Unix/Linux/BSD system somewhere, right? If not, can’t really help you here), and type the following command:
    cut -d= -f2- | sed 's/, /\n/g' | cut -d@ -f1 | sed 's/[0-9]//g'
    (What? You mean it’s not obvious what that does? Ok. First, it cuts off everything before the first = sign, global search/replaces all ‘, ‘ strings with a newline, cuts off everything after the @ symbol, and deletes all numbers.)
  5. After you’ve typed that command, hit Enter and then paste in the copied email addresses.
  6. Hit Enter again. Watch the reformatted student names fly by.
  7. Copy/paste the names into whatever file you want.
  8. (Optional) Marvel that your class information is held in a form that’s almost, but not quite, entirely unlike something useful.

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