Emoticon images

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The list of images that will be used to replace the emoticon text can be defined by a site administrator in Settings > Site administration > Appearence > HTML settings. The images defined here are used by Display emoticons as images filter and TinyMCE HTML editor's Insert emoticon popup menu.

Emoticon setting page

Form table fields

The form table maps the emoticon characters like
to an image that will be used to display that emoticon. Images can be provided either by the Moodle core itself or by any other installed plugin (like an activity module, block, theme or your plocal plugin). For accessibility reasons, alternative texts for these images should be defined, too.

Emoticon text

Into the first column, insert the text representation of the emoticon. The emoticon filter converts these texts into images. The text must pass the following constraints:

  • It must be at least two characters long
  • It can not contain
    substring to avoid accidental breaking of URL addresses
  • It must contain some non-alphanumeric character to prevent from breaking HTML tags in the text

Image name and component

The default set of emoticons are provided by Moodle core itself. In that case, the image component is set to core. The image name is a relative path to a file without the trailing slash and without the file extension. The image must be located in the
folder of the given component. Example: if the image name is set to
and the image component is set to
, the image file
from your Moodle installation folder is used to display that emoticon.

Alternative text

Alternative texts are taken from language packs that can be again provided by either the core or a plugin. The first field value is the string identifier and the second field value is the name of the component providing that string (see the language packs documentation for details).

Example: if the emoticon has the alternative text set to
, then the localized text will be obtained from the file
where XX is the current language code. If that translation is available, the value from the English pack
will be used. Technical note: these two values are passed as the parameters to the
function to obtain the alternative text

Custom emoticons

To support your own emoticons, just add another row into the form table. However, if the images and their alternative texts are not available in the Moodle yet, you will have to add them in a form of an installed plugin, typically together with a theme or via your local plugin. The following section illustrates some options how to register emoticons provided by various types of plugins.

Emoticon provided by activity module

Let us say we want to use the emoticons system to display Workshop module icon instead of
text. As you can see, the icon is located in
. Just add the following row into the emoticons form table:
Text Image name Image component Alternative text
(workshopicon) icon mod_workshop
Save changes in the form and the icon should appear at the end of the row. If you have the emoticon filter enabled, whenever you or your users type
in the text, it will be replaced with the image.

You may want to use the localized term for the Workshop module as the alternative text for that image. Because the Workshop module already contains a string that we can use, just add the following values into the last two columns of the table and save the changes again:

Text Image name Image component Alternative text
(workshopicon) icon mod_workshop modulename mod_workshop

Emoticon provided by installed theme

Themes in Moodle 2.0 are able to override any standard image provided by the Moodle core by default. So if a file
exists it is automatically used instead of standard
. Themes like any other plugins are also able to extend the standard emoticon set or change the file names or their directories. Let us say you have installed a theme named
that comes with its own set of standard emoticons. Those emoticons must be located in the
subfolder of that theme, for example in
. Now you want to use the emoticons provided by this theme instead of the default Moodle emoticon set. Just replace the relevant rows in the table with the new values:
Text Image name Image component Alternative text
 :-) smilies/happy theme_myschool smiley core_pix

Note that we replaced just the image name and component. So the alternative text will be taken from the core language pack which is probably already localized into many languages.

Preparing own set of emoticons

If you have a set of images you would like to use as emoticons at your site, we recommend you to prepare a local plugin that will just provided these emoticons, without any other functionality. Even though this way involves a bit more work at the beginning, it is preferable over direct modification of the standard Moodle files. By encapsulating your emoticon with a local plugin, you can safely upgrade your site without the risk of overwriting your modifications, deploy the local plugin at multiple servers and share your work easily with the others.

Writing a local plugin that provides a set of emoticons is not hard even if you are not experienced PHP developers. You can use a published example as a scaffold for your own work.