Projects for new developers

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Getting started

Moodle uses PHP, JavaScript and a number of other Web languages, so learning those is a good place to start.

When you have some basic PHP programming skills, you may wish to start learning about how to Moodle code is organised. It is recommended that you complete the Introduction to Moodle Programming course on dev.moodle.org. To access this you will need to have an account on moodle.org first.

If you are looking for projects suggested in the tracker, look for issues with the 'addon_candidate' label.

If you are looking to make a quick contribution, look for tracker issues with marked as easy.

As you become more involved in Moodle development, you might like to learn more about the coding conventions used and how changes to Moodle core code are processed.

Potential projects

This evolving page lists possible Moodle projects for new developers derived from community suggestions.

If you have any ideas for new features in Moodle which might be suitable as projects for new developers, please see New feature ideas.

HTML maths editor

Traditional written mathematical notation takes advantage of a rich set of special symbols, together with their relative size and position on a two dimensional page. Underlying mathematical expressions is a well-defined semantic tree structure. When typing a mathematical expression into a computer keyboard the ability to take advantage of the features of traditional mathematical notation is severely limited. Essentially one has only a one-dimensional string of symbols taken from the limited alphabet found on computer keyboards and a strict syntax. Syntax is often problematic for users. For example, they differ between applications and they do not correspond to traditional notation.

DragMath (http://www.dragmath.bham.ac.uk) is a nice "drag and drop" equation editor that has been integrated with the Moodle editor for some time. However, it is implemented in Java, and that is becoming increasingly problematic, with increasing security warnings on the desktop, and limited support on mobile devices. We would like a new editor, keeping all the good parts of DragMath, but written in JavaScript. This could then be integrated with Moodle and other web applications.

Goal: to create a useful and usable "mathematics entry system" for Moodle, using a combination of JavaScript and HTML5.

This should

  • parse typed expressions into an internal tree representation
  • provide useful feedback to users, e.g. "missing bracket", on ill-formed expressions.
  • have flexible options for providing a "context" to mediate between the requirements of a strict syntax, and users' expectations based on traditional written mathematics. E.g. is "x(t+1)" a multiplication of x and (t+1) or application of the function "x" to the argument "(t+1)"?
  • have "drag and drop" components (in HTML5)
  • have a modular and flexible output mechanism, this includes
    • on-screen display "as you type/edit"
    • output in a variety of formats, LaTeX, Maxima syntax, MathML etc. which can be embedded into web applications, specifically Moodle. It is not a goal to provide multiple outputs, but it is a goal to develop a framework in which other users can contribute such formats.
    • show users the internal tree representation on request
  • potentially enable manipulation (computer algebra) of internal expressions by pre-defined rules.
  • have a well documented and simple API.

Much of the basic design has been done in for example

We will draw from this previous design experience to guide the development.

See this forum thread: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=251627 for more.

Skills required: JavaScript, HTML 5
Difficulty level: Hard
Possible mentors: Chris Sangwin

New question types

This is not really a specific project idea, but I would like to point one an important general area:

With HTML5 the range of what can be done in a web browser keeps expanding. Can we use these possibilities to make new, much more interactive, question types for Moodle?

There are some ideas in this forum thread: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=222439

  • a question type where students have to join things up correctly by adding lines to a diagram (for example to complete an electric circuit).
  • a question type where students can change the colour of certain parts of a diagram, and they have to get it correct.
  • ... I am sure there are more possible ideas. Use your imagination!

There are also some ideas which don't require complex HTML5 things:

  • A 'Give 3 examples of ...' Question type. For example "Give three ways to speed up a chemical reaction:". Answer 'heat', 'increase concentration', 'catalyst' (in any order). However, 'warm it' might be an acceptable alternative, but 'heat', 'catalyst', 'warm it' should only score 2/3.
  • An ordering question type. Probably based on the OU's qtype_ddwtos. The think that cannot do is give good credit for partially correct answer. For example 'F', 'A', 'B', 'C', 'D', 'E' might be considered close to the right order, but if you do that with ddwtos it will score 0.
  • A question type where students must highlight certain words in some text. E.g. "Find all the verbs in this paragraph."

There is also scope to make significant enhancements to existing question types. For example

  • in Drag and drop markers allow teachers to define the drop zones by dragging with the mouse, rather than typing co-ordinates.
  • in the pattern-match question type a tool like STACK question tests to help teachers verify that their answer matching works correctly (upload example responses, indicate what grade they should receive, show what grade they actually receive, and highlight the differences.

Before proposing anything, please make sure you are familiar with the standard question types already available in Moodle, and the contributed question types that other people have already created.

Skills required: PHP & JavaScript
Difficulty level: Medium - Hard
Possible mentors: Tim Hunt

Plagiarism plugin (Moorsp)

There are various commercial plugins available that use the Plagiarism API in Moodle, but because these plagiarism systems can require paid subscriptions, testing them can be difficult. I'd like to see a basic plugin developed (called Moorsp) that could be used for testing the Plagiarism API and provides a structure that can be built on in future to add further functionality.

The initial aim of this project is not to develop a new Plagiarism checking tool but to develop a tool that provides complete Behat and unit tests for the Moodle Plagiarism API.

All files uploaded to Moodle are stored on disk using the contenthash of the file as the filename - this means that if a user uploads the exact file multiple times in different locations only one file is stored on disk. The plugin should implement a check to see if the exact file has been submitted to any other courses/activities and display related information if another match has been found.

Deliverables:

  • All Plagiarism API functions should be implemented.
  • Support for Assign, forum and Workshop modules should be implemented.
  • Full Unit test coverage of all plugin functions.
  • Full Behat tests for Assign, forum and workshop modules should be implemented to ensure that all Plagiarism API functions are working as expected.
  • The code should pass 100% of the Moodle codechecking tools to ensure the code meets with Moodle Guidelines.
  • The code should be perform well with appropriate use of the Moodle caching tools.

Future Improvements (outside scope of initial project)

  • Add Plagiarism API to the Moodle Glossary plugin.
  • Implement functions that allow the plugin to post content to an external source - a future open source moorsp server that will receive content and generate a similarity report - we may be able to re-purpose some of the code from the old plagiarism_crot plugin to do this.
Skills required: PHP
Difficulty level: Medium
Possible mentor: Dan Marsden
Discussion: [1]
Initial code structure: [2]

Event subscription plugin

This project includes the following:-

  • creating a Moodle plugin that provides users with an interface to subscribe to various events in Moodle.
  • Users should be able to subscribe to generic events (ex:- all delete events) or extremelly specfic events (ex:- users added to a specific group)
  • Performance is an important aspect, any solution designed should not be too harsh on performance.
  • This project requires deep understanding of Moodle events framework - Event Specs
Skills required: PHP and Javascript
Difficulty level: Medium
Possible mentor: Ankit Agarwal

Pronunciation evaluation question type

This project would expand on some work done as part of the CMUSphinx project funded by GSoC 2012. The project developed an algorithm/library that was could take some recorded audio of someone saying a particular phrase, and determine whether it was pronounced well or badly.

The goal of this project would be to take that system, and package it up as a Moodle question type, so that teachers can create a Moodle quiz that determines how good their students' pronunciation is. (Think foreign-language teaching.) Here is the documentation about creating question types.

Skills required: PHP & JavaScript
Difficulty level: Medium - Hard
Possible mentors: James Salsman & Tim Hunt

See also