Student projects/Messaging improvements

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 1.9. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: Student projects/Messaging improvements.

Programmer: Luis Filipe Romão Rodrigues

The status of this project is being tracked here: [http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-10107 MDL-10107]

See Development:Messaging_2.0 for developer documentation.


Summary

The Moodle messaging system in Moodle is a bit clunky and could use improvements to make it slicker and more efficient as a tool for messaging people within the Moodle environment.

Functionality improvements:

  • Add a messaging API class to the core of Moodle which all modules will start using for sending messages (currently they all format their own emails).
  • Add output plugins to messaging so that users can choose exactly how to route their messages, especially when they aren't online at the time. Initially the two plugins would be "browser" and "email", but later there could be a jabber plugin, an IRC plugin etc)

Gui improvements:

  • Improve the main message GUI using AJAX (Moodle includes the YUI library so you'd need to use that)
  • Improve the messaging window to allow chats among three or more other people at once.
  • GUI for the output plugins to allow users to set rules about each plugin independently, and also to select from incoming messages by type, by user or by moodle module.
  • Improve the methods to search messages and find discussions from the past.
  • Improve administrator auditing of message logs, including filtering etc.

Project Information

Mockups

User Profile mockup

Lfrodrigues- messaging config.jpg

Improved search interface

Improved history view

Administrator reports

System Overview

lfrodrigues system overview.png

Possible implementarions

I see two ways of implementing this. My main problem at this stage is that I really don't know if there are real peformance gains with a new system.

Using Events

New messages are posted as events. The core messaging code has a handler to grab them and to choose how to process them.

Martin told me that if the system gets too "popular these messages become COULD be a little heavy on the system".

This approach seams the easiest a better because I would reuse a lot of code (good software practice) but don't know about the performance escalates

Develop a new class

I could also implement a completely separate and probably much simpler system where all modules just call a function to add a new message to a queue. The system would the process the messages and choose how to process them.

(I really don't think this can be any more efficient than events, really, and the advantages of using events are too great. If events system doesn't cut it then we can optimise that. -- Martin Dougiamas 08:31, 15 May 2007 (CDT))

Plugins

Plugins should be located under the "message" directory eg:

/message/output/browser (special case, as hooks need to also be included elsewhere as in 1.8) /message/output/email /message/output/jabber

The plugins should be full Moodle citizens with db directories, version.php files etc.

Message Sources

Somehow all the modules need to register themselves as a *message source* so that the messaging GUI can easily list all the sources.

We could develop something new, or we could extend the Events API so that modules can optionally use the events.php mechanism to register themselves as known "triggers" (sources) of certain events. I'm inclining strongly toward this latter method.

A catch-all category of "Other messages" would be applied to any unknown incoming messages for which no settings are defined.

Modules will triger an "Register Message Source" event in widget_add_instance() and a "Remove Message Source" in widget_delete_instance() -- Is this correct?


Changes

moodlelib.php still needs to be adapted to the new system since it still uses emails

Files that need changing

With modules/files need to be adapted to the new system?

  • the ones with send email
  •  ??

Modules/Files with send emails

This modules/files send email using email_to_user, is there any other?

Modules:

  • journal,
  • forum,
  • lesson,
  • workshop,
  • assignment
  • exercise
  • quiz


Other files that need changing:

  • ./admin/handlevirus.php
  • ./admin/process_email.php
  • ./backup/backup_scheduled.php
  • ./course/pending.php
  • ./enrol/authorize/enrol.php
  • ./enrol/authorize/localfuncs.php
  • ./enrol/authorize/uploadcsv.php
  • ./enrol/flatfile/enrol.php
  • ./enrol/imsenterprise/enrol.php
  • ./enrol/manual/enrol.php
  • ./enrol/paypal/ipn.php
  • ./error/index.php
  • ./lib/moodlelib.php
  • ./lib/uploadlib.php
  • ./message/lib.php
  • ./mod/assignment/lib.php
  • ./mod/exercise/lib.php
  • ./mod/forum/lib.php
  • ./mod/journal/lib.php
  • ./mod/lesson/essay.php
  • ./mod/workshop/lib.php

Other ideas from the community

  • The ability to black-list individual users or groups/groupings site-wide.
  • The ability to grey-list individual users or groups/groupings site-wide (only able to IM specified roles at site or course level).
  • The ability to add an attachment to IMs (with a maximum size selected at the site level). I would think that this ability could be limited by role, and turned on or off at the site level.
  • As a teacher, you want to send different messages at the same time to many students. There should be an option, where teacher selects many individual student or a group of students or the entire class, types in the individual messages next to the student name, and does a one click send to all
  • Finding history of messages is very difficult. It needs more options, you should be able to select a period between two dates and find all sent / received messages within those dates.
  • The "pop up" window for message is clumsy, and the css is not properly defined
  • The message block can presently be used for live chat also, if both participants are online. However, it is not "designed" for the same, more features could be added, allowing one to see who all students of the community are online, and an option to start chat with them.
  • Ideally, the live chat element would allow some way to elegantly hold 2 or more separate conversations at once. Currently, this involves having multiple messaging windows open at once and trying to work out who has just said something when it 'dings' in the background is difficult. A tabbed interface like the accordion theme/google chat would be ideal.
  • Ability to send message to groups / roles should be possible. For example, as an administrator, i might want to send a message to all Teachers or students
  • Ability to send messages to cellphones. It may be outside the scope of moodle, but when programmers want to implement API's provided by service providers, they should be able to plug them in easily
  • Ability for teacher to disable messaging for all participants of a course for a period of time - to stop students distracting or becoming distracted during a focused period of activity.

See Also


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