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The blog of Michael de Raadt

Moodle – Now with more SERIOUS

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I’ve been thinking of writing this post for a while now, and the list of things to include seems to have been increasing – so here goes.

New SERIOUS staff

Since I have arrived at Moodle HQ there has been a push to increase the number of developers. As Moodle popularity grows, so does the need for maintenance and new feature development. When I arrived in April there were nine employed developers, six more have been added and two more are arriving in coming months. My hope for the near future is to have two teams working on stable development and a third on new features development.

But Moodle is not just about development and in recognition of this, two new roles have been added to the HQ complement.

As a sign of the determination to get things right, we now have a Test Manager. Tim will oversee testing during development and release processes. He brings a great deal of experience as a tester and developer, and will improve testing processes so that the result is serious testing and a more solid Moodle codebase.

Image of Tim Barker

Tim the Test Manager

Barbara brings experience working as a graphic designer in universities, including work with Moodle. She also has teaching experience (in design), so she is highly qualified. But beyond that, she brings a level of style that Moodle has been lacking for some time. A quick look at moodle.org will demonstrate that developers are not very artistic. Undoubtedly the benefit of Barbara joining us will be Moodle – with more serious style.

Image of Barb

Barbara the Designer

New SERIOUS release schedule

It took a long time for Moodle 2.0 to come to fruition. This was a significant step forward (one that many Moodle users are still taking). Afterwards it was decided that it is not necessary to wait for the a complete release roadmap to be fulfilled for each version. Instead, a timed release schedule is now used to create a greater sense of certainty. Part of my role is to “bulldog” developers, to ensure that major releases (such as 2.1 and 2.2) happen on time. We now have major releases every six months in June and December, and since 2.0 releases have happened on time.

Moodle also has minor releases (AKA point releases), such as 2.2.1, that occur between major releases. The main reason for minor releases is to send fixes to security issues out as soon as possible. This might sound like a bit of a ‘number’s game’, but for Moodle Partners and the Moodle community, keeping their Moodle sites up-to-date is a ‘big deal’, and we want to do what we can to help them.

Up to now, minor releases have been completed irregularly when a number of security fixes have come about. But now, we’re getting even more serious. In order to assist in planning upgrades now and into the future, minor upgrades are scheduled to take place every two months, offset by one month to major releases (January, March, May, July, September and November).Release calendar

For more details, see the General release calendar.

New SERIOUS documentation

DocBlock comments in the Moodle codebase

Moodle documentation has, in the past, been fragmented and inconsistent. For new developers, the task of discovering how to work in Moodle as a coding framework has been a daunting one. So to remedy this, HQ developers have put down their development tools to focus on documentation. Starting with core APIs, descriptions are being added and updated to create consistent codebase documentation. This is being linked to Dev Docs wiki pages, again in a consistent manner, to provide developers outside Moodle HQ with the information they need. A planned future addition is consistent ‘getting started’ documentation for each plugin type (currently there are 32 to choose from).

Staying SERIOUS

One of the main focus areas leading up to the release of Moodle 2.3 will be accessibility. With the help of staff from North Carolina State University in the United States, including Greg Kraus and Glenn Ansley, a solid list of accessibility issues has been compiled. Together we will work through these issues to create a release of Moodle that will be accessible to more people. If you would like to be involved in this effort, please help where you can.

As well as this, you can anticipate improvements in usability, specifically file handling, coming soon. (I bet you’re holding your breath.)

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Author: Michael de Raadt

I'm a husband, dad, manager and education technologist.

2 thoughts on “Moodle – Now with more SERIOUS

  1. Glad to see that Moodle HQ is growing and taking some steps to really put it’s best foot forward. I’m eager to see what/how a designer will bring to the table.

  2. Moodle is getting serious as well as easy too, it’s now much easy to get your files to Moodle, just need to drag and drop the files. Even picking up a file has became much easier now.

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