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Edited by Sam Marshall, Friday, 21 May 2010, 22:58

Here's an update on what we've been coding recently in the area of the OU where I work! I've done a few things, some of which may be of interest to other Moodle users, others not so much.

  • I fixed final glitches etc. in the courses dashboard for tutors (mentioned before; it uses a webservice to access information from our Moodle system, and other systems, about which forums a tutor can access across all courses and whether they contain unread messages, then displays all these links in one place for convenient access).
  • I wrote a block for the glossary in Moodle 2. Teachers can add this block to a glossary then use it to search all the other glossaries they can access. The idea is, if they want a glossary entry about something for a course they're writing, they can search all other courses to see if somebody already wrote one. I'd love if people try it out (and I'd love even more if you can manage to convince the Moodle HQ folk that it should be included in core Moodle).
    There will be a version of this feature in OU Moodle 1.9, but I haven't written that version yet. This development was part of our current project to learn more about coding for Moodle 2.0, which several developers here are involved in as we work out how to plan for a possible upgrade of our systems. Coding in Moodle 2 is definitely nicer than in 1.9, so I hope we can go ahead with it...
  • I updated the Java audio recording applet I have, which is designed for students to record themselves. It's basically just to save them having to download a standalone application; everything it does is local. Anyway, it now looks nicer (we didn't have graphic design resource, but I tidied it up based on the upcoming new OU styles that were already designed) and a few usability glitches have been ironed out. The applet's open source; you can get the code here, or try it out on this temporary prototype site. Assuming we don't find any horrible problems with it, this will be used to replace the current Audio Recording Tool for Languages courses.
  • I added support for .mp4 in more places in OU Moodle (it was already supported in some places). We're transitioning from .flv. Now we're going to be fully ready for the .mp4 video format just in time for it to become obsolete. Awesome!
  • Thanks to the current round of testing from our Technical Testing team, I fixed lots and lots of bugs in OU Moodle (for our June releases) including some in our publicly-available modules (ForumNG, OU wiki) and just a couple in core Moodle 1.9 and 2.0 as well.

I've done some other things in the last couple of weeks too, but I think I'll stop there; this is supposed to just give you an idea, not to be an exhaustive list... sorry about that! However, I should also mention the others on my team:

  • Ray has nearly finished auto-archiving for ForumNG. The idea is you can set forums to automatically delete discussions when they're inactive for a number of months. If you prefer, you can also make it move the discussions to another forum (presumably a hidden 'archive forum' or something). This means that very busy, very long-running forums won't eat up too much database space and won't reduce in performance as the number of discussions climbs into many thousands.
  • Mahmoud has nearly finished advanced search for ForumNG. In addition to the existing free-text search (powered by the ousearch block), you can search by date or by user (full name, partial name, or username).

I hope we'll do the public 'stable version' ForumNG release in a couple of weeks (shortly after the OU's update on June 1st). The idea is that this will be maintained in line with the fully-tested OU updates, rather than getting every new (and possibly broken) feature as soon as we finish it. So it won't have the two features mentioned above, but it should be useful if you want to run ForumNG on a major site.

Finally, a side note: I just bought a tune called Theme From HTML (Steve Hill & Technikal; Dark by Design mix; on Masif). Playing it now. It's very ugly indeed. If you imagine the 4:4 kick/snare is your head and the bassline is a brick wall, it sounds just like coding HTML for Internet Explorer! Awesome.

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