Making changes show up during development

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Sometime, when you are trying to do Moodle development, you edit the code, and nothing seems to change as a result. This is because, to improve performance, Moodle now has all sorts of caching built in. When this is happening, this page will try to give you the quickest way to make your changes show up in all situation.

General advice

  1. In your development site, change most of the admin settings like 'Cache language strings', 'Cache JavaScript' to be suitable for development. Note that doing this will slow down your development site a bit.
  2. If in doubt, visit http://your.domain/moodle/admin to check that the Moodle install is up-to-date.
  3. And then http://your.domain/moodle/admin/purgecaches.php and click the 'Purge all caches' button. This will slow things down for the next few requests, until the caches have re-populated. Note there is also a CLI tool to purge caches.
  4. Depending on what you changed in your plugin, then in addition to the above, you may need to remember to increase the version number in the plugin's version.php, or the changes will not show up.
  5. You may have forgotten to run grunt.
  6. If you have just added a new Behat or PHPunit test, you may need to re-run admin/tool/.../cli/init.php

The above steps are a brute force approach. They will probably work, but are probably not the fastest way. Below, we list for all the various type of change you can make, the most efficient way to make the change show up.


After changing the PHP files (*.php), you should just need to press reload (F5) in your browser.

Adding or removing an auto-loaded class

If you get class-not-found errors, you need to visit http://your.domain/moodle/admin.


After editing the Javascript Modules source files (amd/src/*.js), if you have Administration -> Appearance -> AJAX and Javascript -> Cache Javascript turned off, then you should just need to reload (F5) in your browser.

If JS caching is on, you need to re-run grunt. (Do you also need to purge a cache??? I don't think so.)


After changing the CSS styles (*.css) ...


After changing SCSS (*.scss) files ...


After changing LESS (*.less) files ...

Language strings

After changing language pack strings (lang/en/type_plugin.php):

  • The best option is to turn off Admin -> Language -> Language settings -> Cache all language strings when doing development. Then you only need to press F5 to refresh to see your changes.
  • Otherwise you need to Purge all caches (or just the Language strings cache) before reloading.


After changing capabilities (db/access.php) you need to

  1. Bump the plugin version number.
  2. Go to admin -> Notifications.

Then check that the capabilitie shows up on Site administration > Users > Permissions > Define roles for any role.

Scheduled tasks

After changing scheduled tasks (db/tasks.php) you need to

  1. Bump the plugin version number.
  2. Go to admin -> Notifications.

Then check that the task shows up on Admin -> Server -> Scheduled tasks.

Web services

After changing web services (db/services.php) ...

Database structure

After changing the database scheme (db/install.xml, db/upgrade.php) ...



After you add a new *.feature file, you need to re-run

$ php admin/tool/behat/cli/init.php

Mobile support for plugins

If you are doing the kind of development described in Mobile support for plugins, using a pre-built version of the app like

Note, these steps were originally written by people mostly on question type plugins. Hopefully they are generally applicable, but if they don't make sense in your case, that might be why. Please edit to improve them.

General note

If there are lots of red error messages appearing in the JavaScript console (but not the very common error 'ERROR Error: Uncaught (in promise): null...' that repeats every minute and fills the console logs!) it is often necessary to clear site data and restart.

  1. In browser developer tools, go to Application -> Clear storage.
  2. Close the browser, and re-launch.

Adding mobile support to a plugin for the first time

  1. Bump the plugin version number.
  2. Go to admin -> Notifications.
  3. F5 in the app to restart.

HTML template

After changing an existing template (mobile/*.html), just pull down in the app to refresh.

Client-side JavaScript

After changing an existing client-side JavaScript (mobile/*.js), press F5 in the browser developer tools to restart the app.

Server-side classes/output/mobile.php


Mobile CSS

  1. Bump version number in db/mobile.php
  2. Purge caches (specifically the tool_mobile/plugininfo MUC cache)
  3. Press F5 to restart the app.