Mobile addons support in Moodle plugins

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Mobile addons support in Moodle plugins
Project state In Progress
Tracker issue https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-49279
Discussion https://moodle.org/mod/forum/view.php?id=7798
Assignee {{{assignee}}}


General ideas

We plan to support pulling app addons (AngularJS modules) from the remote site and lazy load them into the app. This will happen every time a user logs in into a site (or the remote site information is refreshed).

We need to find a way to make Moodle plugins able to declare that they "export" Moodle Mobile app addons.

The list of available app addons in a site should be exported via the core_site_get_site_info external function, so we need a way to retrieve a list of app addons provided by a Moodle site.

Any type of Moodle plugin must support app plugins (mod, local, admin tools, etc...) so we need to use a generic mechanism

Please, notice that this is only intended for Moodle additional (contributed) plugins, although it will also support core plugins. Core moodle plugins support will be implemented natively in the app.

Declaring app addons in Moodle

There are several options, we can:

  • Use the db/services.php file
  • Use a new db/mobile.php file
  • Create a mobile/ directory in the plugin

db/services.php Pros

Existing file, already included

Cons

It’s not directly related to mobile, it’s for exporting functions and services

db/mobile.php

Pros

Very easy to detect plugins that support this file using the get_plugin_list_with_file() function (that’s how the db/cache.php definitions file works)

Cons

May need to create a new type of file

mobile/ directory in the plugin

Pros

No need to include new files

Cons It will require iterate through all the plugins, it’s not declarative


Storing and serving the app addons

Two options:

A - The AngularJS module packaged in zip format

Pros

It doesn’t require to implement anything in Moodle, the file is served as is Very easy to create a hash to check for new versions

Cons

Requires to handle the path to files (because the fonts or images or css or lang files would be stored in the sdcard)

B - A single file

Pros

Does not require to unzip in the app, supported in browsers without requiring zip libraries

Cons

Very hard to create a single file including all the required assets (css, images encoded, language files), should be created by Moodle? by the user? It will also require to handle the lang files and any other information that will be stored in the sdcard, and to solve the paths too


Caching addons

The addons information will be returned by the WS get_site_info, a new list containing the addons information:

addons [
 {
  component: “mod_certificate”, // The Moodle component
  addon: “mod_certificate”, // The addon name in the app
  package: “mod_certificate.zip” // The zip package name
  hash: “adf39fee…..” // The hash of the package file
  size: // the package size in bytes
  dependencies: list of app addons this addon depends on
  version: (the Moodle plugin version number)
 }
]

Since the zipped plugins should be very small, I think we could be consistent with what Moodle does and create a hash of the file.

The hash of the file can be calculated every time the file is served or when the plugin is upgraded.

If we only want to calculate the hash when the plugin is upgraded we would have some issues, for example:

  • We’d have to create new tables in the database to store the packages information including the hashed value
  • We’d need to add new code in the plugins install/upgrade process

We shouldn’t use Etags neither because it will require a PHP file to serve the plugin hash files instead a direct download. Since the Web Service get_site_info will return the list of mobile addons including the hashes I don’t see necessary to use tags.

We could use the Moodle cache for caching the hashes of the files, using a key like: component + addon + package + version


Multiple addons per plugin.

Should we allow multiple addons per Moodle plugin? Or should be allow just one since a mobile addon support multiple handles?


Implementation

Proposed implementation

Addons declaration:

plugin/db/mobile.php

Example

<?php

$addon = array(
    “name”: “mod_certificate”, (addon name in the app, mod_certificate, progress_bar, ….)
    “package”: “mod_certificate.zip”, (the package file name in the plugin/mobile directory)
    “dependencies”: array(“addonname1”,”addonname2”)
);

web service get_site_info

Returns the addon structure after searching plugins implementing db/mobile.php via get_plugin_list_with_file:

addons [
 {
  component: “mod_certificate”, // The Moodle component
  addon: “mod_certificate”, // The addon name in the app
  package: “mod_certificate.zip” // The zip package name
  hash: “adf39fee…..” // The hash of the package file
  size: // the package size in bytes
  dependencies: list of app addons this addon depends on
  version: (the Moodle plugin version number)
 }
]

The hash will be retrieved from cache (using a cache key like component + addon + package + version) and if’s not possible, re-generated at run-time

In this initial phase, do not implement any UI in Moodle to list the plugins supporting mobile plugins (because we want to migrate all the mobile settings to a new admin tool in Moodle 3.2)