Deprecation/Replacement: [DEPR-155] Replace Course Certificates generation code in edx-platform


In an effort to improve the reliability and performance of Course Web Certificates generation we are planning to deprecate and replace a large portion of the Course Certificate generation code in the edx-platform.

Please see [DEPR-155] Replace Course Certificates generation code in edx-platform - JIRA for more details.

Please let me know if there are any questions.

@staubina We are still using the PDF certificates in our fork. For some reasons, most of our customers prefer the PDF Certificates format to the Web Certificates format. This will be a major change for us.

@staubina And before someone forgets about it again, let’s not forget that some Open edX instances do use Honor Certificates.


Hello @sambapete, these changes should have no negative effect on Honor Certificates. Thank you for raising the issue though.

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We are still using the PDF certificates in our fork. For some reasons, most of our customers prefer the PDF Certificates format to the Web Certificates format. This will be a major change for us.

@sambapete I somehow missed this message. Would you mind outlining how your organization currently generates PDF certificates?

Our review of the code has shown that 2+ years ago the auto-generation of PDF certificates was removed from edx-platform. We no longer generate PDF certificates manually or in an automated way.

The code in the edx-certificates repo has not been updated in a number of years and we do not use it internally.

The changes here would simply clean up the unused auto-generation of PDF certificates to make the code less confusing. Right now the code creates a lot of confusion around certificate generation.

We still uses the code from edx-certificates that is still tagged in koa.master and lilac.master.

Obviously, that forces us to use CERTIFICATES_HTML_VIEW: false in /edx/etc/lms.yml because the toggle is still part of the code.

I guess it would simply mean making sure the CERTIFICATES_HTML_VIEW doesn’t disappear and that the flow would still work for us. That would be easy to test for Maple or the next forthcoming releases.

I know that Stanford was also using PDF certificates, through their own fork of edx-certificates, when Steven Burch was still there. I guess he is working for edX now? I had a few discussions with Steven a few years ago about it.

Our intention is to remove the remaining code in edx-platform that hints at automated pdf generation and update/replace the automated web certificate code. The automated generation code is confusing right now because it gives the illusion that we can automatically generate PDF certs.

I will bring this request to the team to see what we can do to protect the presentation of PDF certs that are generated using edx-certificates for now.

Out of curiosity is there any reason your team prefers PDF certs to web certificates? Is it just because of their history?

It’s a client request, the team and I have no preference, but as you know : the client is often king.

There are multiple reasons.

Our partners prefer the PDF certs. That’s what I’ve been told. Because also have courses on, they prefer the way the PDF certs are rendered when printed versus the way the HTML certs are rendered when printed.

We also allow for more than one logo because we do have courses with more than one institution and each one wants their logo on the cert. Also a lot a customization based on various details each course or each institution wants on their particulate cert. The same institution might have various templates depending if the course is for a specific target group ou a different language (French or English).

We slightly modified in edx-certificates in order to “support” some of our clients/partners request in the past. Of course, most of these modifications predates the coming of HTML certs. When HTML came along, we did have a look at it but our management didn’t wan’t to go that way if PDF certificates were still available.

In the end, that might force us to review all our certificates templates and its processing.

But if I give in, I will be asked a lot of questions why I did…

Hello @sambapete, sorry for the delayed response.

This DEPR ticket focuses on cleaning up some of the older, already deprecated automated PDF generation code.

In general, we consider PDF certificates to be deprecated and we will be phasing them out starting with the Maple release. I realize this will have a large impact on your organization and others, which is why we want to communicate it as early as we can.

Web Certificates are a more fully developed feature with much greater support in the platform:

  • Certificate templating
  • Studio Configuration
  • Support Tools
  • Certificate Allow Listing Support in the LMS UI
  • And more I am sure I am missing

As the two types of certificates have diverged support for PDF certificates has continued to degrade. This gap has been growing since the code was deprecated a couple of years ago to generate PDF certificates in the edx-platform.

As a result, I want to give you a heads up on a couple of other DEPR tickets that will be coming soon. I want to call out here that we are not planning to alter the generated_certificates table that supports PDF and Web certs in any way right now.

  • (By Maple Release) I will be following our OEP process for dropping support for the deprecated edx-certificates repo soon. I will add that ticket and link to the post once I make it in discourse.

  • (Post Maple as of right now) We will eventually be removing the deprecated PDF certificate user experience code. This is on hold for now and when we have more details I will add a DEPR ticket and post it here.

Resources on Web Certificates if you are interested:

Please let me know if you have questions. If we can keep this thread focused on the removal of the auto-generation code and the improvement of the web certificate generation code that might help. I will post another thread for discussion of the other DEPR actions soon.

On another note, I am going to move [DEPR-155] Replace Course Certificates generation code in edx-platform - JIRA to accepted so that we can move forward with the process of cleaning up the replaced auto-generation of web certificates code.

Pierre, I came across some work we (at Opencraft) did around PDF generation a few months ago. It might interest you:


Thanks @arbrandes I’ll take a look tomorrow.

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Thank you for sharing this information @arbrandes.

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