Information technology tools and resources at the UW
UW Groups are memberships of common identifiers for people, computers, and applications. Each UW Group consists of a membership list of identifiers (e.g. UW NetIDs), plus metadata about the group, such as name, description, contact, administrators, membership viewers, and authorized senders. Each UW Group can be referenced by a unique identifier called its UW Group ID.
UW Groups support collaboration and communication by making it easier to reuse groups in tools and applications. Common uses of UW Groups include email lists, calendaring, scheduling, sharing resources, surveying, and voting.
Organizations, teams, and individuals can choose how they organize groups and where they use them. UW Groups can identify members of an organization or part of one, members with a business or security role, or members with access to a resource.
- Music Majors (uw_major_music)
- UW Graduate Students (uw_affiliation_graduate)
- FISH 478a Sustainable Fish Winter 2011 (course_2011win-fish478a)
- EDW Authorized Payroll Coordinators (u_astra_urole_payrollcoordinator)
- Microsoft Licensing Agreement Eligible Students (uw_affiliation_mla-eligible-students)
- Academic Affiliation Group Read Access (u_groups_affiliation_student-read)
- iSchool Service Eligible VoiceThread (uw_ischool_service_voicethread)
- iSchool Employees IT (uw_ischool_employees_it)
UW Groups Service
The UW Groups service (groups.uw.edu) is the central location where UW Groups are created, managed, and integrated into applications. Some groups are managed by teams and individuals for ad hoc purposes such as projects. Other groups are managed by UW organizational and institutional processes like student enrollment. Any member of the UW community can use the service to manage groups under his or her authority and to delegate group administration to others as needed using flexible access controls for group administrators, membership managers, and subgroup creators. Group memberships can include people, applications, and computers, as well as other UW Groups.
Tip: Any member of the UW community with a UW NetID can log in to the UW Groups Service using a web browser. Some group memberships are restricted and may not be viewed by some visitors.
How to Identify UW Groups
UW Group IDs
Each group has a unique identifier called its UW Group ID. The UW Groups service uses a structured namespace for UW Group IDs, which allows individuals, teams, and organizations to create and manage groups independent from each other. UW Group IDs can be up to 128 charters in length and contain lower-case letters, digits, dashes, and underscores. Online tools and applications that integrate UW Groups also typically refer to them by their UW Group IDs. However, UW Groups enabled for emailing the members of the group may or may not have an email address that contains the UW Group ID.
Prefixes & Namespace
All UW Group IDs begin with a short prefix such as “u”, “uw”, or “course”, followed by an underscore. This prefix places the group within the top-level namespace for UW Group IDs and implies high-level characteristics such ownership or naming authority. The components following the underscore establish more specific properties, such that many UW Group IDs contain a sequence of components, each separated by an underscore, which increases in specificity from left to right.
How to Find UW Groups
Browse & Search
To find UW Groups, browse and search the UW Groups service (groups.uw.edu). If you don’t find a group that meets your needs, ask around. Your team or organization may already have created UW Groups that suit your needs. Or if you’re collaborating within or across UW organizations, contact the related IT support staff to find out if a group exists for your purpose.
Tip: Many UW organizations are just getting started with UW Groups. When contacting them, describe what group membership you’re looking for and what tools or applications you’re hoping to use with UW Groups (e.g. “I’m contacting you because I’m trying to identify and survey folks in your department via a Catalyst WebQ and UW Groups…”).
How to Choose a Home Group
A “home group” is used as a starting point for creating other UW Groups. Therefore, a single home group such as “uw_law” or “u_astra” can support many purposes found in many kinds of organizations, including those that organize their groups into multi-level subgroup hierarchies (e.g “uw_law_students”, “uw_law_employees”, “uw_law_services”). Many UW organizations and some teams already have a home group you might be able to use.
If you don’t have a home group that meets your needs, there are three options for creating them:
- Organizational Home Group: “uw_” prefix + an organizational short name (e.g. “uw_law”), which can be requested by any UW organization by emailing email@example.com or created self-service by registered UW DNS subdomain contacts for the organizational short name matching their subdomain under washington.edu or uw.edu.
- Shared UW NetID Home Group: “u_” prefix + a Shared UW NetID (e.g. “u_astra”), which can be created self-service by any current administrator of the Shared UW NetID.
- Personal UW NetID Home Group: “u_” prefix + your Personal UW NetID (e.g. “u_sallysue”), which is created for you the first time you log in to the UW Groups service.
Tip: UW-IT recommends that home groups based on Personal UW NetIDs be used only for short-term team activities or personal purposes rather than critical long-term organizational purposes, since access to these groups may be lost if the group owner leaves the university.
How to Create UW Groups
Using a Web Browser
To create UW Groups using your web browser:
- Log in to the UW Groups service (groups.uw.edu) using your Personal UW NetID. (You cannot log in using a Shared UW NetID.)
- Click Create a group. This will display a form for creating a new group.
- Enter a display name. Some applications use this short name instead of the UW Group ID when referring to the group.
- Enter a UW Group ID. Note the input field is already populated with the home group based on your personal UW NetID (e.g. “u_sallysue”). Enter an ID based on this home group, or replace with a different ID. See How to Choose a Home Group above.
Tip: You must have permission to create the ID you enter. The ID must be a subgroup of a home group or other group for which you are an administrator or subgroup creator.
- Enter a description. A good description helps others understand how the group is managed and how it should be used.
- Enter a contact person. This helps people who might have questions about the group.
- Enter group members by UW NetID, UW Group ID, Federated ID, DNS name, or UWWI Computer name. See How to Manage Memberships.
- Enter other Administrators, Member managers, and Subgroup creators, as needed.
Tip: If you’re creating a hierarchy of groups, all with the same requirements for administration, create a group that includes your administrators as members and then reference this group as the administrator of the other groups. This way you can add and remove administrators in one place.
- Click “Create group” to create the group. If you have permission to create the UW Group ID, the group will be created and displayed back to you. If you don’t have permission to create the UW Group ID, an error message will be displayed to say you’re not authorized.
Using an API
If you want to create and manage UW Groups using an API, refer to Groups Web Service REST API.
How to Manage Memberships
Add and Remove Members
Although you can add the initial members to a group when it is created, the routine tasks of adding and removing members is performed on the membership tab. There you can add and remove individuals by their UW NetID or Federated ID. You can also manage memberships comprising other groups as members, as well as DNS names and UWWI Computer names.
Tip: The administrators, member managers, and subgroup creators for a group aren’t added automatically to the membership of a group. These roles only grant management permissions. They do not grant membership.
Add Other Groups As Members
Adding other groups to the membership of your group is a useful feature that saves time and effort. You can add references to your own groups, as well as groups administered by others, including institutional groups. The only technical constraint on adding other groups as members is you must have permission to view the membership of the group that you want to reference as a member of your group.
Review Direct and Effective Members
The membership tab displays the current membership of a group. By default, it displays the direct members: all of the current members that were added directly to the membership of the group. If the direct membership includes other groups as members, view the effective members for an expanded view of all direct members plus the members of the other groups.
The membership tab includes a few details about each direct or effective member. These details assist in reviewing the membership. On some browsers, positioning the cursor over an effective member will display pop-up information about its derivation.
Tip: The history tab can be used to review the details about how and when direct members were added and removed. You can even filter and review the history for specific members.
Define a Membership Dependency
When you create or edit a group you can add what’s called a “membership dependency group”. This feature provides a way to constrain the membership of your group. When you add a membership dependency group, the direct membership of your group will depend on the membership of the other group.
For example, if you add the uw_employee group as a membership dependency group, you won’t be able to add members to your group who aren’t members of the uw_employee group. You will only be able to add members to your group that are members of the uw_employee group. Furthermore, any member of your group who is removed from the uw_employee group will be removed from the membership of your group as well. Memberships are checked hourly to enforce the membership dependency.
Note: This feature only applies the membership dependency to direct members; it doesn’t apply the dependency to the effective membership of your group, nor to any subgroups. Therefore, if you want to enforce the same membership dependency on the memberships of several groups, add the same membership dependency group to each one.
Watch a Group
If you want to be notified when changes are made to the membership of a group, add it to your list of watched groups. Use the Watches menu to add and remove groups you’re watching.
Add Member Managers
Add member managers to allow others to update the membership of a group. Adding a member manager gives them permission to update the membership of a group, without being able to remove the group or perform other updates. They can only update the membership.
Allow Members to Join and Leave
When you create or edit a group, you can control whether or not members are permitted to join and leave the membership on their own. You can allow anyone to join or leave, or define specific groups that may do so. Sometimes this feature is described as allowing members to opt-in or opt-out of the membership.
Institutional groups are UW Groups provisioned from institutional data sources using institutional practices for data management: standard business definitions for membership, published data quality standards, and systematic approaches to cleanse and augment data over time. Data custodians for UW institutional data can integrate data for their business domains into the UW Groups service. Examples include:
- UW course groups (e.g. course_2015win-fish478a)
- UW major groups (e.g. uw_major_music,uw_major_art_class-soph)
- UW affiliation groups (e.g. uw_employee, uw_student)
- UW employee groups (e.g. uw_org_256_apptdeptbdgt_2013_060600_faculty)
For many UW organizations, using institutional groups, incorporating them into their own UW Groups, and applying them appropriately in multiple application contexts is essential to organizational efficiency.