Developer conference April 2007

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Developer meetings > April 2007 conference notes

The conference time was at 11am GMT, Friday 20th April. We had 32 participants and we covered everything in just over two hours! I think most people got something useful out of it.

Moodle 1.8

Some things that need to be taken into account for all new development:

These two are closely related. Accessibility is important so that as many people as possible can participate in Moodle courses, and also because there are now legislative requriements in many coutries. Ensuring that your pages validate as XHTML1.0 Strict is a very good start, and all new code in Moodle should validate. Martin D recommended two firefox plugins that are a big help are Firebug and HTML Validator. Nick F recommended the Fangs screenreader emulator.
Also part of the accessibility work, but also makes forms easier for developers to create, and more consistent and usable for users (thanks to Jamie Pratt). All new forms in Moodle should use forms lib.

Tim H asked whether the 2 month delay in releasing Moodle 1.8 was to be expected with future releases. Martin D replied that he hoped not, and that the delay was due to the time taken to implement accessibility improvements and to ensure that 1.8 was a very strong release.

Moodle 1.9

This is the biggest new architectural feature planned for 1.9. It is a way to allow different parts of Moodle to communicate with each other, without becoming too closely coupled. Martin L commented that the Events API was cool. He added that they had had some discussion at Catalyst based on their experience of events-driven Elg and advised that events should be queue-able and that the code needed to cope with events being lost.
The big new user-visible feature planned for 1.9 - a centralised gradebook. The first use of the Events architecture. Please see the discussion Gradebook for 1.9 - your input wanted. Jenny G asked whether the gradebook could be used to track progress through a course (read resources etc). Martin D replied explaining that there will be an overall grade for a course and a course setting for course completed which could be based in resources visited.
More development has been done improving the API, using forms lib etc. to make the code match Moodle coding standards. Ludo said that he was looking for a decision regarding whether Nwiki will be added to the core code. Martin D answered that the database upgrade is big and scary, so when we do it, we must be sure the new database structure is right, and will not need significant changes for a long time afterwards. He requested for more developers to download Nwiki from contrib and try it and suggested that once Nwiki is XHTML strict, to have a discussion in the general developer forum. (Later, Ludo suggested talking about it in NWiki roadmap.) Martin D pointed out that there is another wiki - the OU wiki written by Sam Marshall which is very simple and very well written but doesn't migrate from the old wiki. He said that we need to decide together what to go for and what we can support/build on. Pablo Casadro pointed out that Nwiki is compliant with OKI http://www.okiproject.org/.
Online voice-conferencing software with a Flash interface, a bit like Elluminate, which we used for the meeting, but this one is open source. Currently beta quality, but already Moodle integration - the DimDim module (modified Chat module) - exists. It may be tried at http://test.moodle.com. (We nearly used it for the meeting, but it was not quite stable enough.) It has screen sharing, upload pdf, share audio, and is developing rapidly, so watch this space.
Jamie P described his plans. Please see the discussions Plan for the conversion of the question bank into an activity module) and student question creation module.

Moodle 1.9 release plans

We are aiming for a beta release at the end of May. That means all work on new features must be finished by then. Then about a month's bug fixing will hopefully be enough, and we can release mid July. All developers, please try to stick to the end of May deadline. (Note for the future: Moodle 2.0 will definitely require PHP 5.)

Other items of interest

Martin D welcomed the 10 SoC students to Moodle development, and briefly went through the wide range of projects that are planned.
Just a simple wiki, not designed to replace the core Moodle one, but should be available as a contrib module in a couple of months, for anyone who is interested.
  • OU offline Moodle
Project that OU (In particular Chris) is doing with Intel. Not clear how useful it is, but an interesting idea. Expect a forum post in the next few days.
Al (OU) is working on a way of using Selenum to test Moodle. Focussing on the quiz at first. Expect a forum post in the next week or so.
Tim is working on this, and has just got it working with OpenMark. A way of linking questions from other systems such as the OU's OpenMark or Chris Sangwin's STACK into Moodle. It will be a contrib question type.
  • The OU's Open Content Initiative - http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/ - has won a platinum award, the top honour, at the IMS Global Learning Consortium Learning Impact Awards 2007. Well done Jenny G!
  • AJAX course format
The AJAX course format works, though not in all browsers. Martin D asked for any volunteers to be a Moodle JavaScript guru.
  • TinyMCE
Martin D asked for any volunteers to look into replacing the current HTML editor with TinyMCE. Please see the discussion tinymce editor with iManager image plugin for moodle 1.6.