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Developer meeting February 2008

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Developer meetings > February 2008 meeting

The meeting was at 11pm GMT, Thursday 28 February 2008. We had 42 participants and we covered everything in around two hours.

Moodle 1.9

  • Moodle 1.9 release
The release should be today, Petr fixed a serious security issue yesterday an upgrade is recommended. Thanks to everyone who has worked on 1.9, especially Petr.
  • Major API changes
Everything documented in Moodle Docs. Martin D provided brief descriptions:
  • Grades - Grades from activities should be pushed into the gradebook using grade_update(). Interface wise, modified a lot based on feedback, Gary giving lots of reports, Helen and Nicolas cleaning up preferences and help. OU paid for most of the new gradebook including a custom report. Use the tracker to propose improvements.
  • Events - Events API unfinished, can be worked on in Moodle 2.0, lots of events triggers added in 1.9 (need to document them), only for external modules at the moment.
  • Groups (Petr) - Groups rewritten with new features added, such as groupings, implemented by Petr based on Enrique Castro's spec and earlier work by the Open University.
  • Tags - tags is a separate feature, any module can use it, tags can be attached to any element with an ID (course, user, module, tag), eventually, tags capability should be added to each core module, tag API has been changing a lot, Mathieu Petit-Clair has been getting it ready for 1.9, the tag library is much cleaner now, tag_set() and tag_get(), there are the 2 main API functions, comma-separated lists, with or without links, the tag page will need to be adjusted to display tags in a smarter way, 20 different styles used in tag clouds, For example you can search blogs by tags, Tag library: currently in /tag/moodle.php, may get moved to /tag/lib.php.
  • Roles - Roles API is much, much faster, Martin Langhoff has done a lot of performance work there, waiting for results on tests between 1.8 and 1.9, to check speed differences, white paper about Moodle running with 1 million concurrent users, due to be released, about 30-50% faster.
  • Journal
Different points of view - see Death to Journal - maybe forum discussion.

Moodle 2.0

Martin D explained how we want to allow users to upload files into Moodle and bring content in from external repositories, not just teachers but anybody. The repository should be secure, so that only intended recipients can see the files. Whenever you reference a file externally, it will get copied into Moodle, with metadata about the file. 2 APIs: one for read-only stuff and another for write: push something out to Moodle. The draft Repository_API is a "first cut".
Martin D described how little "Save this" buttons could be added in various places in Moodle, such as blogs, forums or assignments. Data gets encapsulated with metadata and put into chosen portfolio (Mahara, hard drive etc).
There will be opportunities for plugins for both the repository and portfolio APIs.
Will be considered later this year, perhaps in the next developer meeting.
Martin D informed everyone that work would start on NWiki after the repository API was well on the way. There would be a lot of heavy refactoring to do. NWiki will change quite a lot when it gets into head.
Martin D said that the Feedback module would be going into head soon. Good code, a few things to take out, would like everyone's help in giving it a little tidy-up
  • Turnitin Integration
Dan Marsden explained how he was working on a Turnitin deep integration, where an assignment type could be selected then a report displayed in Moodle. Dan is keen for it to be included in Moodle 2.0.
See Martin Langhoff's forum posts Catalyst performance patches for 19/HEAD. It's important to always keep things scalable.
  • Hotpot module
Gordon Bateson is working hard on new version of Hotpot module (original version written for Moodle 1.4 when there were no objects in the Moodle code) to make use of new objects - forms, tables - and to be compatible with new grades features. The New Hotpot module enables people to administer quizzes made with any external quiz editor - Hot Potatoes, TextToys, Qedoc, ExamView quizzes etc. Teachers can create quizzes using the quiz software then play them in Moodle using the HotPot module. Hotpot module new features: single Hotpot activity will encompass a collection of quizzes, caching, pre and post conditions on quiz results similar to lesson module, lots of other little things e.g. media players in quizzes. The new Hotpot module doesn't use Moodle questions currently, though this is a possibility for the future. The new Hotpot module will have an open source core (available through Moodle) and a closed source commercial side called Hotpot Pro to include various add-ons. Hotpot Pro will provide funding for continuing Hotpot module development.

Other items of interest

  • Moodle bugathon
Results announcement - see Bugathon prize winners. Thanks to Bryan Williams of for donating the iPods. Congratulations to all our prize winners and a big thank you to everyone who took part in the bugathon. It was suggested that we have a shorter bugathon (e.g. 1 month) before the next major release.
  • Contrib Coordinator
Martin D announced Moodle's Contrib Coordinator: Anthony Borrow. Anthony said that he was happy to support great work and that his goal to support people using tracker etc.
  • Google Highly Open Participation contest report
Helen reported that the GHOP contest was a great success! The contest gave students aged 13-18 the chance to learn more about and contribute to many aspects of open source software development. To quote from a contest participant: "I always thought you had to know PHP to be able to contribute to Moodle development. Now I know that it's not true - there are many other ways of contributing." Around 100 tasks were completed by 50 students. Wide variety of tasks including lots of video tutorials explaining 1.9 features, a new language pack (Latin), selenium scripts, XMLDB developer documentation and database presets - see GHOP/2008 for the full list. A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped reviewing tasks and suggesting new ones. Hopefully Moodle will be involved in the GHOP contest next year, assuming Google decide to run it again.
  • Google Summer of Code
Helen described how Moodle has been involved in GSOC for 2 years now, since 2006. The GSOC program pays university students to work on open source software products for about three months (over the northern hemisphere summer), mentored by existing developers. Previous projects include social networking features (resulting in tags in 1.9) and user management improvements (resulting in bulk user actions in 1.9) - see GSOC for the full list. We're going to apply to be included in GSOC 2008 next week. Assuming we're accepted, we need to come up with a list of suggested student projects ASAP, together with developers willing to mentor them. Students will then browse the list of projects, discuss them in the student projects forum and apply by 31st March 2008. Anyone willing to mentor a project, please let Helen know. Mentor commitment: up to 5 hours per student per week. Even if you’re not able to mentor a project, you can still help and support GSOC students by answering their questions in the forums, giving feedback etc.
  • Unmaintained modules
Martin D asked the question "How do we find maintainers for modules?" We need better encouragement. Martin said that he wants to pay people to work on Moodle full-time. He announced that Eloy will be working full-time for Moodle this year :-)
Tim described how he has been the Quiz module maintainer for 2 years - lots of work, sometimes a depressing number of bugs, good for the Open University. Suggest to your institution that they pay you 0.5 day per week to maintain a core module.
Martin said that he was happy to mention organisations in the Moodle credits or the release notes. As the contrib process improves, hopefully people will feel better about maintaining modules.
  • Testing
Gary Anderson asked whether we need a more coordinated approach with people responsible for modules (see Talk:Developer meeting February 2008). Testing by institutions is really critical to avoid problems, need to ask people to do it, difficult always being the one to test things, happy to share ideas.
A page could be created in the documentation wiki with names of official testers for each module. Perhaps a script for anonymising user data could be created.
  • People
Tim is coming to to work at Moodle HQ in Perth from the middle of the year.
Yu has returned to China after his wife had a baby.
Martin Langhoff is going to work for the One Laptop Per Child project.

See also