Square brackets “[]” in AICC

When content sends data to an LMS via AICC, it uses a Microsoft INI data format. For instance, the data might look something like this:

[CORE]
LESSON_STATUS=Passed
LESSON_LOCATION=page1
SCORE=95
TIME=00:20:54
[CORE_LESSON]
A bunch of data to be saved for later

The “bunch of data” stored in the core lesson field is free text data that can hold any amount of data. Since it is free text, various content modules will store all kinds of data in there. We’ve found that some LMS’s however have a problem handling square bracket characters “[” & “]” in AICC’s core lesson field. It make sense, that these characters could cause a problem since they are significant in parsing the INI format. We were able to code the SCORM Engine to handle them without problem (unless somebody sought to spoof the start of the next section), however it’s easy to see why some LMS’s would choose to parse AICC requests another way.

In AICC 3.5 and earlier, the specification is silent on the use of square brackets, which, in my mind, implicitly allows them. However, AICC 4.0 does now explicitly disallow their use. We recommend that content vendors avoid the use of square brackets whenever possible, regardless of which AICC version is being used.