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Moodle 2.0

This document provides an brief overview of Moodle's use of YUI.

The Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) framework is a fast, powerful, modular, and well-documented framework with a powerful loading system.

The Basics

YUI is an extremely extensible, fast, modular, and powerful JavaScript framework with a very capable loading system. A number of modules are available for YUI providing a wide range of functionality to suit most situations. All of the core YUI modules are documented on their API. We are working to put together documentation for moodle's YUI modules too.

Since version 2.4, Moodle has included SimpleYUI to expose several features natively without requiring you to specify which features you wish to use. Prior to this a basic YUI was included. SimpleYUI loads a number of standard modules and makes them available on the global Y namespace. These include:

Whilst accessing the global Y variable will suffice for many uses, we highly recommend that you look at writing your code within a YUI module. It is also possible to use one of the other methods to include your JavaScript. These include:

  • inclusion of a javascript file (e.g. a file included by a theme); and
  • inclusion of a module.js file.

It is also possible to use JavaScript within a Database module - see the JavaScript template setting for further information.


YUI is extremely modular with different components, features, plugins, and tasks broken down into Modules. When using YUI, you can choose which modules you wish to use and the YUI loader will go away and retrieve those modules. If you wish to use modules not provided by SimpleYUI, then you can use the YUI().use() syntax as follows:

[code javascript] YUI().use('panel', function(Y) {

 // Use the Y.Panel class here.

}); [/code]

Conversely, if writing a YUI module then it will be wrapped in a module definition: [code javascript] Y.add('moodle-block_fruit-fruitbowl', function(Y) {

 // Your module code goes here.

}, '@VERSION@', {

 requires: ['base', 'panel']

}); [/code]

A module written using the Y.add syntax is consumed by a use statement.

Documentation and further information

Other YUI documentation you may find useful:

We will soon be adding API Documentation for Moodle-specific YUI modules in addition to the core YUI library.

Useful tools

JavaScript authoring have moved along considerably in recent years, and we highly recommend that you look at using some of the available tools to help you in your development. Most of these tools are available through Node.js which is relatively trivial to install on most operating systems:


JSHint is a JSLint derivative for checking your code. This includes checking for errors and recommended stylistic approaches to writing JavaScript.

Since Moodle 2.5, a JSHint configuration is also included in the Moodle codebase to inform the tester of our preferences and recommendations.


Installation is relatively simple:

npm install jshint -g


Many IDEs and editors will automatically detect if you have JSHint installed and pass your code through it for you, reporting any errors as you go.

To run jshint on the command line, simply pass it the file that you wish to check:

jshint blocks/fruit/yui/fruitbowl/fruitbowl.js


There's a variety of documentation on JSHint and the error messages it returns. Start off with the jshint website:


YUIDoc is a documentation system. It can work with any type of code, but is designed with JavaScript in mind. It's the documentation system used to create the YUI core API documentation, and will soon be used to create API documentation for Moodle-specific YUI modules in core.

We will soon start shipping a yuidoc.json configuration file if you'd like to generate your own documentation.


Installation is relatively simple:

npm install yuidoc -g


To run yuidoc across the entirety of Moodle JavaScript, from the root directory run:


Whilst writing your documentation, you may also like to run yuidoc in server mode. See the --server option for help on how to do this.


There's a variety of documentation on JSHint and the error messages it returns. Start off with the jshint website:


The upstream YUI project use a tool called Shifter to wrap up meta-data, rollup files, minify, and strip out debugging information from files. We will shortly be shifting to use of Shifter for core Moodle as it offers us many potential benefits.


Installation is relatively simple from the node.js Packaging Manager:

npm install shifter -g


There are two ways to run shifter depending on your intended use.

During development, we recommend you run shifter in --watch mode. To do so, enter the src directory of the module you are working on and run:

cd lib/yui/src
shifter --watch

For more general use, you can run shifter across the whole of Moodle using --walk:

shifter --walk --recursive

Read more about shifter: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=217450

See Also