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Developer meeting April 2008

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Developer meetings > April 2008 meeting

The meeting was at 11am GMT, Monday 28 April 2008. We had 30 participants and we covered everything in around two hours.

Moodle 1.9

  • Changes made to 1.9 stable since release
Martin described 1.9 as a really good release, worth the bugathon time spent, and that Moodle HQ have spent a lot of time bug-fixing. Petr summarised many of the recent bug fixes:
  • Gradebook - bug fixing and performance problems solved
  • Captcha support added by Nicolas C
  • Backup/restore bug fixing, improvements and performance
  • Numerous PostgreSQL compatibility fixes
  • Many critical problems fixed in language packs
  • Front page participants list improved
  • Database module - bug fixing and improvements
  • Forum module - fixed unread tracking, performance improvements, group modes fixed
  • Resource module - fixed problems with pdfs in IE
Martin talked about the weekly build available on the downloads page, created 2AM GMT on Wednesdays, and about Moodle HQ and others (especially Dan - thanks!) testing bug fixes from the previous week, looking for regressions. Developers should avoid checking in core code on Tuesdays. More help testing bug fixes would be appreciated!
  • Potential candidates for inclusion into 1.9.x
Petr described a number of possible features:
  • Group self selection module - MDL-1310 (Petr coding, Helen usability and documentation), first draft now available in contrib
Andrea B asked whether automatic group creation could be expanded to make use of user profile fields e.g. city or country or custom fields. Martin replied that it was a good idea and it should be added to the tracker.
  • User suspend, delete and purge improvements - MDL-13563 (Petr)
  • Email change confirmation - MDL-13811 (Nicolas)
  • Ajax in gradebook (Nicolas)
  • Role-related improvements - MDL-8524 including MDL-13538, MDL-11421, MDL-7859 (Petr)
  • WebDAV in moddata (Martín)
  • Privacy laws related issues
  • My Moodle page bug fixing and performance improvements (Jenny and Petr)
  • Xinha HTML editor (Mauno)
Tim queried whether these changes should be made in a stable branch, to which Martin responded that Moodle 2.0 is a long way off and that the changes are relatively small. Martin requested that people use the tracker for commenting and/or voting on these issues.

Moodle 2.0

Martin gave an overview of the current Roadmap:

  • Moodle 2.0 will require PHP 5.2 as a minimum, allowing us to clean up the code in some areas - see
  • File handling improvements -
Files will have IDs, virtual directory structure
  • File API - maintains an internal repository of files and governs access to them
  • Repository API - allows users to browse external repositories and select files to bring into Moodle
When you select a file it will be copied into Moodle, full control of security of every file
  • Portfolio API - allows Moodle content to be captured and pushed out to external repositories
Penny is going to be working on the portfolio API. Penny has worked on Mahara previously.
Allowing dependencies and forced paths through activities: ie "You can't do this thing until that thing is completed".
This needs to be implemented so that performance doesn't suffer.
Sam Marshall mentioned that the OU are going to implement conditional activities, though it's not yet official.
  • Learner plans and competencies - and Google Summer of Code
Builds on 1.9 support for outcomes so that individuals can have learning plans which are updated when courses are completed
Replaces our ageing HTMLarea with a new one that works on more browsers, enforces XHTML strict and better integrates with the new File API
We should have one very well integrated editor, rather than offering a variety, tinyMCE is best contender so far. Mathieu Petit-Clair is developing the HTML editor.
Makes it easy for users to find and navigate other systems and external Moodle repositories, leveraging the Moodle Network in various ways
Standard set of core API functions made available via SOAP and XML-RPC
Help looking at this would be appreciated! Jerome in Moodle HQ is going to be working on flex.
  • Old DB install/upgrade system removed
The deprecated system for installing or upgrading database entries used in Moodle < 1.7 will be completely removed, while supporting only the new XML based database scheme introduced in 1.7.
Upgrading to Moodle 2.0 will need to stop at 1.9, Petr is going to rip out the old stuff and clean up the upgrade code.
MDL-6605 Database access is to be refactored so that: we can use prepared statements everywhere for increased security and some performance, we put datalib functions in a class to allow better unit tests (mock db), and remove the need for slashes in userspace. This will cause breakage for 3rd party modules (but fixing them won't be too hard). It's worth doing, though there will be no apparent benefit to users.
  • Pagelib 2.0, Blocks 2.0
Refactor Blocks and Pages using contexts to allow blocks to go anywhere in Moodle with better control, no spec yet
The feedback module is now in core. It was chosen because it has a nice modular structure, uses templates and can be exported, though there's still work to do. It may be possible to integrate the survey module into the feedback module.
  • New Wiki module (nwiki) - DFWikiteam-UPC
To be cleaned up (haven't yet set a date) and included as a core module
Tim described the change planned for item analysis and for the architecture to be cleaned up, work to be done by Jamie Pratt.
  • Blog 2.0
Add commenting to blogs (MDL-8776), as well as support for external blogs
There is also a GSOC project about blogs and tagging - see Student projects/Blog improvements (to be filled out)
  • Messaging 2.0
Refactor messaging to use plugins for input and output, controlled by users
This is also a GSOC project finishing stuff from last year and extending further, users will be able to choose whether message is email, popup etc. - see Student projects/Further messaging improvements (to be filled out)
  • Secure RSS feeds
Obscure RSS feed URLs using private keys, controlled by users
Another GSOC project - see Student projects/Secure RSS feeds
  • More tagging
Tagging of courses, activities and other things
  • AJAX for gradebook user interfaces
A host of UI improvements to enhance usability and speed. Nicolas C working on this, improvements are now in head, switch ajax on in my preferences, edit grades and feedback directly, use like a spreadsheet, tab between fields or use arrow keys, updates every time you tab. Please try it - feedback appreciated!

Further Moodle 2.0 discussion:

Tim introduced Olli Savolainen who is developing a prototype quiz editing interface
  • Moodle 2.0 deadlines
Tim asked Martin to pick a date for major features to be finished by e.g. Sept / Oct then allow major testing after this date. Martin replied that the 2.0 spec is still being worked on, though a deadline for finishing the specs is a good idea. 1.9.1 will be released hopefully next week, then focus on finishing specs. Some things may not make it into 2.0.

Other news

Martin talked about the addition of Dongsheng Cai (part-time, 20 hours per week) and Jérôme Mouneyrac to the core team, plus Tim in August.
Helen described how Google are funding twelve projects this year (two more than last year) - see GSOC/2008 for a list. We had tons of applications and so were able to choose the very best students :-) Students will be following our common development process, beginning with creating a specification in Moodle Docs and then refining it based on community feedback. Coding is due to start from 26 May onwards. Let's help and encourage our new Moodle developers wherever we can!
  • The OU blog
Sam Marshall described the OU blog, developed by Catalyst. It's a module which behaves like a standard blog, though not necessarily like the Moodle blog. It includes comments, OU search, tracking and RSS feeds. It will be released as a contrib module for 1.9, hopefully in a few weeks time.
Martin mentioned phpdocs, which is built nightly for 1.9 and weekly for 1.8 maintained volume. Valery is currently experimenting with different settings and will post in general developer forum. He should write additional coding recommandations for phpdoc tagging so generated documentation can be improved.
Helen informed everyone that the next developer meeting will be the Developer Hackfest on Monday 9th June, prior to the San Francisco 2008 MoodleMoot. Hopefully lots of developers will be able to attend in person, though we will be using Elluminate to provide remote access.

See also