On a semi-related note, I've been experiencing a bug in trying to access the Moodle file navigation via the Front Page Settings block as an Admin: at first, the navigation loaded, but then would endlessly query something when I tried to expand any folder; now, clicking on the "Files" link leaves me with a blank page. It doesn't seem to be a PHP error (the logs don't show anything), but no page source is generated, so I really don't know what's going on with this.
In Moodle 2, files belong specifically to the thing they are used by, rather than belonging generally to some course.
So have things like "Reading for week one" resource files, and "Fred's first forum post" files, "Multiple choice question about fish" files and so on. But you don't have "Files 101 course" files.
This is sensible for various reasons. The two that immediately spring to mind are:
1. When working out whether user X should be allowed to access file Y, we can not get that right. If the user can see "Fred's first forum post", then they can see the associated files, otherwise not.
2. If you want to backup and restore a single activity (perhaps to share it with another teacher) we need to include exactly the right files in the backup.
Tim, those reasons make a lot of sense, and in playing more with the new file management system, we've come to like and understand it a bit more. However, I'm still not entirely clear--is there any way to actually move/delete files on the server other than through the (admin-only?) "Files" menu accessible through the Front Page Settings?
I don't seem to be able to move/delete files in 2.0
I can see the files listed as links in the files rea, but are unable to manage them (delete/move). They are simply links to the file url.
Yes it certainly seems different in 2.0.
The problem I have is that I have uploaed an image which is now been replaced with a newer improved version. I get an error when I try to upload the new image (can't write to database).
My guess is that it does not like files with the same file name as one already on the server, although it does not give me the option to overwrite. I am simply trying to avoid having to rename all the files I intend on re-uploading after tidying them up. Hence I would prefer to delete files that are now obsolete and are not being used on the site. They are simply taking up space on the server.
I am having a hard time understanding the new file management/repository in Moodle 2.0
In other Moodle instances, I could backup existing courses without student data and ftp to the sample course and then restore.
Can you direct me somewhere that explains how the file management works? Or explain to me? I am not sure if I have not set up the Moodle correctly on the admin side to properly reflect the file management system. Are we supposed to have a place on our server for each teacher to have a place to store their files and then within Moodle, go directly to that folder on the server to access the files?
Denis, I assume your file navigation bug has been fixed by now, as I can't reproduce it on our Moodle QA Testing site. If you come across any other obvious bugs in the latest Moodle 2.0 preview version, please do report them in the Moodle Tracker.
For those who are not familiar with 2.0. yet - this is a short description of how it works, as far as I understand.
Courses do not have a Files area anymore. Now, you need to associate files with the Resource/Activity level.
Think Facebook and its wall. You can make a post and attach an image to it. That image will be associated with that particular post. You will not find it in your Photo albums. You will just have to remember in what wall post what file is sitting.
Though in facebook, you actually can use internal “photo albums” area to load in bulk and then provide a link in a post. In 2.0 you do not have that build-in repository on the course-level.
If you want to have a shared repository for your course files, you would need to store them outside of Moodle (think putting everything on flickr, and then linking to there to share your pics)
This is basically my understanding of the things would work. Developers, please correct me if I am wrong.
Instructors have Private files area that can be used for file uploads, but it is private, so if you have multiple instructors you will not be able to collaborate. 90% of our courses have multiple instructors, which include faculty, TAs, and local support staff; 50% of courses have over 4.
Another problem that I can see – will be for users who have pre-build webpages with folder structure, images, links, css. Those also will not be able to add such content to the course site easily anymore unless they are using an outside repository (e,g. please see comment from Joseph MDL-23308. Mark’s suggestion can help, but why convert Folder into the old Files, if we can just have the old Files?)
There will be users who will want to migrate from other systems, or who have some structured files from publishers. For them a task of bulk file movement would also become tricky.
Another scenario was also mentioned: imagine if you want to update some of your files in a course, but not everything. You would need to do that one by one, by going into every single activity/resource. In 1.9 you can just put your updated files in Files, and all of them will get updated. (I realize possible webdav options, but I believe this is to be too advanced for the average user).
I believe that course management systems should offer some features of the content management systems. If we cannot add (or download) files easily to one location and then build on that, we are locking our users and limiting our functionality.
I see the point that users can upload too much, but again for some institutions this is not a big deal at all (There is no cost or performance difference whether the files will be in Moodle vs another university repository, which we still have to maintain and support). And for small installations this can be quite tricky to accomplish.
Soooo, I believe that Course Files area should remain available. If it cannot stay the way it was - it can be treated as one of the repositories. If it is not needed, admin can easily disable such repository for the whole installation.
We can call that repository “Local course repository”, or similar. (Looks like we already use word local for server files). Instructors need to be able to go inside such repository directly from Moodle, and upload/download, etc , files as usual in 1.9.
When instructor will try to add a file to a course activity from that “Local” repository, he should be able to decide whether to link to the file from that repository (Link External checkbox) or to copy the file to the level of the course activity. This is what is done with the other repositories, so this one can be treated the same.
(By the way, I think that there is bug on the QA site, since when I used Link External option there, the file was still copied to the course. May be I just do not understand the functionality)
What do you think?
1. Support is provided via the email. Some users might have a luxury of the IT person, sitting and holding their hand all the time, but most of the time people are all over the place.
So, let's imagine the user will write to support and say - oh, my files are not opening. Why?
Support team can go to the course and say, hey, you have linked to a file and then moved it. Or, your file is located at another server, and that server is currently down.
Now, if the file will be sitting in the Private files, we would not be able to see what is going on (Login as is not an option because of security violations).
If the file will be at some other repository, we again, would not be able to help much.
2. Some departments employ instructional designers or TA who build sites for them.
Later the teacher will have no idea where exactly all the files are, since they can be all over the place. At least if it in the Course Files, it is in the course files, not in private files, not attached only to the level of some unknown activity, not in a repository. If course developer would leave (not uncommon), courses will have to be rebuild from scratch.
I believe course files area should exist and should be treated like a Question bank. We have a course-level and sharable Question bank, and we can also have questions that are associated with the quiz only. Same can be applicable to files.
p.s. I can already imagine couple of thousand of our lost and unhappy instructors writing to support.
p.p.s. I cannot stop writing )
It had been mentioned in other discussions before, and I agree - new file structure is great from the point of programmers, but not form the point of regular day-to-day users, who build, teach, or provide support
I concede the need (even though I am against fighting change for the sake of stagnation) and I believe some percentage of our faculty will feel the same way as you.
Would it be possible to implement a shareable course files area as a kind of basic built-in ECM system and plug that into Moodle's content repository API.
Sounds like that might satisfy all parties involved.
It could be implemented as a block and all activities/resources would use it through the content repository api.
From the instructor's standpoint, it would work exactly the same way as 1.9, and assuming they "link" to the content via the file picker (can this behavior be forced...I'm sure it can?), instead of copying them, it will not make the courses any larger.
I still prefer (and advocate) the use of an external ECM due to most Moodle instructors' propensity to create HUGE courses, making course-level backups difficult at best.
We really need such course-level storage right in Moodle courses, where all teachers can upload/download, zip/unzip, rename, and link to later, the way they were doing.
Do not get me wrong - I LOVE repositories, and so many new and flexible options that 2.0 will offer (I am the one who would advocate for them here!). But course files area should still exists.
Our instructors stopped creating huge courses.
- Added big, red warning mesage to the Files area: "Please do not exceed 500 MB. If you will exceed your limit, you may loose your ability to upload files. You can use this repository (link to instructions) or that repository (link to instructions) with Moodle for storage".
So people are alerted right away. They know their options, and they do not abuse the system.
- Limited user ability to store backup files in Moodle. They can easily create one, but they will be forced to download that zip to their local machine.
- Created, but not yet activated per-course size limit. I can potentially cap every single course to the specific number of bytes allowed.
Such feature I belive should be added to a moodle core. I wish we could share the code, but it is way too specific to our install :>
1. a remote repository could be as simple as a windows share somewhere. It is not necessarily a big deal to set up a file repository for Moodle to connect to. Indeed, it may be easier for your staff to store their 'Course files' in a windows share than having to upload them to Moodle. (Except that, there were problems getting the 'Windows share' repository type to work, so I think it is not in Moodle 2.0. Yes, it was moved to http://cvs.moodle.org/contrib/plugins/repository/smb/. Hopefully someone can fix it one day. If you look at that, you will see that making a new repository plugin is not very much code.)
1b. So, put the windows share on the Moodle server, and use the File system repository type. Or try using the WebDAV repository type.
2. It probably would be possible to make a new repository plugin that does let you search all the files anywhere in a course. The difficulty is doing the proper access checks for users who are not allowed to see all the files in the course. Anyway, a repository plugin could be just another view of the existing files, like the Recent files plugin is.
3. You could make a 'Course files' repository plugin, like the 'Private files' repository.
Other users are not that fortunate.
I am really thinking and talking for a greater good, so that is why I have tried my best to list those scenarios and work patterns that do not fall under the new 2.0. way of file management.
I believe that Moodle 2.0 should offer Course File repository plugin out of the box.
I tried using google docs, could not find a check-box anywhere that asks if I want to link to the file instead of copying it over.
In any case, this feature absolutely must be fixed if external repositories are going to be a viable solution for Moodle.
Otherwise, when the file is copied over, it will get out of sync from the version in the exernal repo.
I have seen the link to an external file in Flickr by the way
With moode 2.1beta it works with flickr, if insert a picture in the editor.
If add a resource file the I cant choose the linking.
we have medical courses that have huge questions database and multiple quizzes that re-use questions from that database.
Thousands of small images stored in folders/sub-folders in the File area and used in the questions.
Quizzes are rebuild often to use other questions, Question bank gets more questions added. Files area gets more images.
Again - multiple instructors doing all of that.
This would be a nightmare to maintain after the upgrade. Even explaining to people that they cannot load their images into the one single area in their own course.
They have to invent tricks and use workarounds, of posting those new images to some "hidden" folder, that they will now use to replicate previous course files behaviour.
What about their previously loaded images? Or, they can view them in the legacy course files area, but, no, sorry, they cannot add anything more there.
Old questions have images from the legacy area still? Just rebuild them.
Will 2.0 will indeed allow to link to a file located in some repository, instead of copying it to the activity all the time?
Martin here said it will be copied, though I for some reason thought it would be a choice that users can make for themselves.
If it is so, and file cannot be just linked to, then we will end up with multiple copies of files in various locations. E.g., we have online file storage area, then area for media files, itunes, google docs, equella repository some time in the future....
I do not want to imagine what it will be from file management and support perspective. We will not save any server space this way for sure
At least I hope that's what it means
Martin, are you here? Can you please confirm?
If only the reference code can be copied, then my main concern would still be the lack of a common repository inside a single Moodle course, where instructors can perform simple actions on them (right from inside Moodle), for the reasons I mentioned above.
Basically, our scenarios of how courses are created, delivered, and managed are very different from the new suggested solution. I think we are not the only ones, as I found other concerns on similar matter.
We create folders for Flash Camtasia tutorials and lectures, which consist of a set of files, all with the same name, upload the set of files as a zip, unzip, and link to the HTML file. If I can only upload single file, how do I upload the set of files (html, swf, xml) that are necessary to display the video?
We create web pages in external editors and upload all the resources, Flash, images, videos, into separate folders and link to the html page.
If I understand the new file structure, these will no longer be options? Please tell me I am misinformed.
The resource could allow uploading of zipped files and allow relative links to be followed within the unzipped folder.
I'm guessing the strict nature of 2.0's file permissions is a rebound from the lax handling in 1.9.
If it doesn't exist when we implement 2.0, we'll have to write it, but it will be a while before we implement 2.0.
On the other hand we'd love an activity that allows students to upload a zipped file and unzip a "Web Site" for instructors to grade.
It would be even better if the activity and resource did the unzip transparently for instructors, so the unzipped files aren't actually stored permanently on the Moodle server, kind of like Microsoft's zipped folder technology.
It could show the creator a list of files on upload and have them select their root file, to be used for all subsequent views.
Hmm...sounds like I'm making some interesting work for my team.
Website resource is still just one resource. Our documents and files are pre-build in Dreamveaver and then relatively linked.
Later those webpages are posted into different parts of Moodle course site, and they still refer to each other.
We also would never want to push our users to use Moodle tools to build courses.
They need to have re-usable content, so later they can use it in another CMS or stand-alone.
Sounds like no problem to me. Can't you:
1) Create one resource with all these files (in subfolders for each section) including relative links which should work. Update it and add parts whenever necessary.
2) Set this resource to stealthed on the Moodle home page - oh, wait, Moodle kept refusing to accept the stealth mode feature even though it's really useful - oh well, then just hide it somewhere (but not turning visible off as then students can't access it) or put it as the first link or something.
3) Whenever you want a link to part of this resource in your site main page, just add the link as a normal link.
I guess I'm missing something, because this seems easy to set up?
I agree the 'sharing resources with other course staff' thing is a genuine limitation of the new system, perhaps there should be a 'Course files' tab/plugin which you can use when selecting/inserting a file. Either this could use the permission system properly, or it might be necessary to add a capability just for this (moodle/course:viewallcoursefiles). Obviously you wouldn't add files to this area, you would add files to whatever you want, but all files added by everyone to anything on the course would show up. Ideally there might be filtering options such as the type of activity the files are in (so you can avoid seeing every forum attachment or whatever) but seems to me like it could work.
I am not an expert on the system - I know how the low-level API works (I think) but not how the plugins tdo - but it doesn't seem to me like this would be too difficult. If indeed there isn't something similar already.
PS I wasn't involved in creating it, but the new system is definitely not about making things easy for programmers (it does that in a few slight ways, but not too much).
It's mainly about making things actually work for users. If you want to transfer, say, a web page resource or a question from course A to course B, and course A has 500MB of files (pretty small!), previously there was no way to do it without copying all 500MB or manually going through and figuring out what files are needed and manually copying those. Now, (a) it will only copy the files actually used in the webpage resource, (b) those copies will not take any additional space on disk.
In addition there's a big improvement in user uploaded images (previously there was no way to do this in many areas, and we have a custom thing here to support it which is a nightmare and doesn't quite work properly), and also in security of files. We once had a case where there was a file for an activity called 'tma1.doc' and a student decided they wanted to get advance notice of the next activity. That was set to be invisible so there would have been no problem but... can you see where this is going... yes you can. Proper file access controls are really important otherwise everyone can download tma2.doc.
All this is made possible by the new filesystem, it's really critical feature. Even if it might make it slightly difficult at present to reuse a file created by another member of course team...
We do not have users who want to give one web-page from course A to B (We do, but they are the minority. And for them - they want a have a parent course that would automatically "feed" children. For now, until we build something, they can use our modification of the Sharing Cart block. That block does allow to copy just one needed file, when copying some resource into it).
We have users who work in one single course and work together building it.
We will have over 4000 courses in fall . All of them have multiple instructors, including teacher(s) and support personnel. 90% of regular academic courses have 2 or more teachers/designers.
And we are the regular academic university, so I believe we are representative with this scenario.
p.s. I do hear and understand the reasoning of change.
What I hope to deliver - is the message that common usual course files management area should still exists in 2.0
If a course files area allowed users to download files (potentially via links within activities) then it would break the important new file system principle that Moodle can actually tell which files are associated with each activity.
In other words, the course files area could be a place where you can upload a whole batch of files or whatever - and then it would appear as a tab when selecting files for use in activities. So for example when adding an image to a forum post or a wiki page or a glossary entry, in the dialog box where you can choose to upload a file, you could alternatively select one from course files (it would then create a 'copy' within the forum post/wiki page/etc).
If this management files area would be any use, then it's probably pretty easy to make, so you should most likely press for that. But I don't really see the advantage over a view that lets you view all files already uploaded to the course in any context, seems to me this would be easier than an explicitly separate area.
As for not transferring activities - that feature isn't used often here either - but it would be used more often if it actually worked. I.e. if you could totally rely on it copying everything needed for that activity, and not copying anything else, and not breaking the target course, and not needing any complicated options about what files to copy. Aren't we all supposed to be moving into a brand new world where you can easily reuse activities from one course in another totally separate one, across different faculties and even from separate institutions? Yes I know this is a load of marketing rubbish but...
This is one of my ultimate questions and sugegstions.
Can we have a course-level repository, and when choosing the file with the file picker, can we choose to link?
What the "Link External" checkbox is for?
Sorry, we are not in that brave world, and we will not be for quite some time Moodle 3.0 - may be.
- Keep the files on the file-system
- Keep in-tact the other file repository work done in moodle 2.0
- Present a familiar user experience similar to what's offered in moodle 1.9
- Download the attached file.
- Go to a course in a test Moodle 2.0 and turn editing on.
- Click Add a resource ... File.
- Upload the zip file using the Add... button in the content area of the form.
- Click the icon next to the zip file, and select unzip.
- (optionally) click the icon next to the zip file and delete it.
- Click on the test folder.
- Click on the icon next to the index.html file, and choose Set main file.
- Fill in the other required fields on the form.
- Click Save and display.
Yep, it does work, but I just want point out that this is not all of the scenarios.
In this example, we kind of have a small website, that students will later review in just one place/resource.
In other scenarios such webpages will cross-reference each other, and they also will be displayed in different topics by different Moodle resources or activities.
So I will add such sample zip file to Resource#1. Later when I will add Resource#23, and want to link it to your second index.html sitting in "sub-folder" of "test", I would need to remeber that it was actually located in the Resource #1. What about my co-instructor? He will have no idea where I have stored the needed files.
Same would be true if I would have a zipped folder with all of my assignments in word format. I will add them to one resource, but later want to display them in different topics of my course. Again, I would need to remember where to look, and my co-instructor or support personnel would need to go through the wild guesses on what I have put and where. What if we would want to add more assignment files, or we would want to update some of them? We would not have one, simple to look at, and manage area.
I love to be proven wrong (almost as much as being proven right).
Thanks for providing your step-by-step instructions. I am now about 25% satisfied instead of 0%.
1.- The relative links between the various files within an uploaded folder do work, including CSS, links to images, etc.
2.- The glossary autolinking filter half works: the words with glossary entries are hyperlinked, but clicking on them does not open the new popup window, the glossary windows is embedded inside the main course window. I will post a bug report about it.
3.- The multimedia filter does not work at all.
4.- Updating a file or files or a sub-folder (or loading new files) within that uploaded folder (which is something I need to do all the time) is far less easy and intuitive than it used to be in the 1.9 course files. For instance if I want to update the CSS file which is used by all of the files in the "course" folder, I must first delete the old file and then upload the new one and wait for the cache to be purged to see the effect.
I will continue my testing and post here and to the tracker for relevant bugs. Things look a bit brighter than they did yesterday.
I upload the images to the Files area, maintaining the folder and file names created by the test bank software (a relative Blackboard path) for each set of images. In the case of this particular test bank there are 25 folders, one for each chapter. Then, in Dreamweaver I do a find and replace to change the portion of the path (URL) to the images generated by the test software to the path in moodle, upload the .dat file to the chapter category in Questions and we are good to go.
The test bank can then be imported or backed up / restored to other course sites that use the same test bank.
Without the ability to upload image files would we have to go manually into each question and select an image (uploaded how - or where?) The test bank I converted this summer for a Chemistry textbook had over 2000 questions, most of which had images for both the question and the answers. It took a full day to convert it, but now it is ready for a few years.
What options would 2.0 provide for this need? My dream is that some day soon textbook publishers will recognize Moodle as the Number 1 CMS in education and provide test banks ready to upload in a few clicks. But until then...
Another question that came to mind - where the images that are associated with the questions in question bank will now go in 2.0?
I have attached one in QA site and I cannot find its location.
Of course in practice if you don't get either thing, then that still sucks, but it
isn't really a 'course files area' argument.
As for question files - Tim probably knows this, but doesn't the question or question bank have a context? I would have thought they go in the question / bank context, under the question id. (In database, the actual files of course will be renamed and dumped in the moodle blobstore or whatever it's called.)
We need a course files are because this is how workflow works.
We have resorted to using the Respondus text import feature to create electronic question banks from Word or RTF test bank files - setting the correct answers question by question and cleaning up errant text. Keeps a lot of student workers busy.
I'm really rather uncomfortable with the way files works. I have been working with a few "real people" attempting to develop courses for Moodle 2.0 and the complaints have been fairly consistent.
The lack of a file browser is a common theme. Although the way it works can be explained away, the lack of a browser is counter-intuitive (more so if you come from 1.x Moodle). Example: "where do I find my backup file"; answer: "well, you go to the restore option and it's there". I suppose it's ok when you know but it isn't if you don't - I can guarantee that nobody will guess. I can't think of any other CMS or VLE that has this "I'm going to hide your files where you'll never find them again" policy.
The file picker (which doesn't work that well, but bugs submitted) just compounds this. It's too complicated. I don't care about Private File, Site Files, Recent Files etc etc. Seriously, that's making users think way too much and it will come back and bite hard. The average user of files - Teachers (remember them) - just want to be able to upload files and have them available as resources and slightly more advanced users want to be able to upload images and multimedia. I would be happy to see a simple 'upload file' option with a "more places...' link for extra stuff that nobody will ever want. You should be able to see (and search) for files that you have access to (how would Apple/Google do it )
I thought that part of the files thing was to be able to share files in a sensible way. After the sharing questions fiasco in 1.9, I shudder to think how that might be implemented if it is at all. It would make sense to me to be able to share files at the Course Category level but everybody except me (and loads of people I know who use Moodle) seem to hate Course Categories so I expect that is out. Some very large institutions with complicated structures use Moodle and the ability to chop around permissions in Categories (and share common files within them) is important for them. Moodle isn't just used in Schools (nothing personal to schools). If it's there or it's coming it HAS to be simple for the user... if the explanation starts with "you should add the capability... and add them to a new role called..." then it's been done wrong!!
Sorry for the rant but somebody has to say something. I deal with hundreds of Moodle users and I'm really, really concerned about having to support this as it stands.
Scenario 1: I upload an image to a resource and want to use that image more than once. I go to find it again, thinking, look in private files? (I uploaded it afterall). No. Server files? Well, honestly, there are so many folders and items and clicks to find anything in there it is too scary so I will try Recent files? Bingo! I find my image (the image is a help image I want to use it several times in this page resource and elsewhere) and select it: 'error: file exists'.
Scenario 2: I upload a file resource (a word document) and use it. I want to use the same word document later on in the course in a different context. I look again... the only place I can really see it is recent files so I choose there. Now, where is this file 'living' and is it duplicated now (as it belongs to two different resource pages)? If I want to update that document later on in the year as my course progresses, do I have to delete it in both places and start again? Going back to my scenario 1 (assuming something changes and I can indeed use my image several times), if I want to change that image later do I have to change it in all 200 places throughout my course? In Moodle 1.9 I could have just reloaded a new image with the same name to my files area. But since Moodle 2.0 treats files differently and perhaps this image is duplicated and different throughout my course as attached to various resources and activities.... My brain hurts.
I can't get my head around where the files are (my logic in my head says that they should be private files since I uploaded them? if not, what ARE private files?), why aren't my files where I think they are and why can't I use something more than once? I have read this forum and I've read the discussions going on here: http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-23306 but I am not a developer and will never understand the reasoning (no matter how technically savvy it may be under the hood). I am a teacher, so I shouldn't have to, should I? I work with two great developers (of Moodle) daily so I am lucky enough to have the benefit of someone technically clever explaining the rationale behind why some things are the way they are. Most of the time this helps a great deal. Still, with this current files logic in 2.0 firmly explained to me, I can't figure out a way to explain to regular teachers, how they go about uploading and using files in Moodle 2.0. And that, as they say, is a show stopper.
I have shared some of these same concerns with some other users over on this post: http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=154138
You are certainly not alone in being concerned about this change. I would recommend everyone to read the possible fixes being discussed at this tracker post: MDL-23306 and contribute to the discussion there too.
I am hopeful that a more user friendly approach to the files api can be found, that still allows us to leverage the extra capabilities that it provides.
..and thats the nub of the problem for me... what exactly are those extra capabilities? I've got my user hat firmly on here. I'm sure from a developer point of view it is more secure, extendable, maintainable etc etc. This is great but that stuff *cannot ever* be put ahead of usability issues for the teacher in the classroom.
1. They want to be able to upload files to a course with reasonable ease and a minimum of clicks. There were two many steps in 1.9. It was confusing for nearly all users and needed simplified. Drag-and-drop got asked for every other day and would have been an incredibly worthwhile goal (if eBay can do it, why can't we?)
2. They want to add them into their course in various ways - either as resources or embedded (via the HTML editor). The search and pick for that needs to be as simple as possible.
3. They want to be able to update a file and for it to be updated everywhere they have used it. Now. Not tomorrow. The file caching is an incredible source of confusion.
4. They want to be able to share files between courses. I am cautious about this. I mean that THEY want to be able to share files between courses. A solution involving roles or asking your administrator would be an abject failure. Don't bother if that's the plan for implementing this - we'd be more productive going to a bar Most users view of sharing is this...
* They want to restrict files to their course (I can never see restrictions lower than course level being relevant) because they have some paranoia about the value of their material.
* They don't care. Anybody in the site can have it ('share with everybody' button). They want to share with courses they are a teacher in ('share with my courses' button). For 99% of users that's all you need.
5. They want an easy to use file browser to manage files. They won't use it much and it needs to look just like Windows XP
SOME People care about this stuff...
1. Security of files. You can't just guess the URL. OK, but it has to be transparent and not get in the way of anything else.
2. Site / Category etc. file sharing. That is your admin adds site files that can be shared in all courses. 1.9 had site files but you couldn't see them in the file picker. I'd like to be able to do the same in Course Categories but that's probably just me.
3. Getting stuff from Youtube, Flickr etc. It looks as cool as hell in a presentation but it's going to be way down the list for an average user uploading hundreds of Word documents. We have to get the Word document thing right.
NOBODY cares about...
* Implementation driven stuff like resources 'owning' files. Even if that happens internally I can see absolutely no reason for users having to understand this.
Probably other things.... I'll be back
* Implementation driven stuff like resources 'owning' files
The difference is, they don't know they care about it, because they don't know about the features that they can't have or that Moodle claims to provide but don't work properly because it isn't available (like sharing activities/questions/other things between courses and with other teachers, on the same Moodle site or on other sites).
I honestly don't think there is a fundamental problem with the current system. A lot of it comes from 'we used to do it this way' issues. There are a few tweaks that the user interface needs, though. For example, the interface probably needs an 'existing file from this course' option (teachers only) which would let you select/search for any file that was already uploaded to this course. Maybe that option's already there but I didn't spot it.
One maybe important issue here is the ability to change a file that is used in multiple places. I'm not an expert on the new interface but I don't know if/where this is currently possible. It should be, though - unlike the old system, with this new one you could automatically update a file across multiple courses regardless of how it was uploaded, by searching for the file content and changing those entries.
One possibility would be that when you are looking at any of the lists of files there could be an 'update this file' icon next to a file; when you click it, you can pick (e.g. upload) the new file, and it will automatically show you a list of other places where the file is used (that you have access to) and ask if those places should be changed as well (probably with tickboxes and a 'select all' option). There are cases where it should be updated, and cases where it shouldn't. Again, I don't really know much about the UI for the new system, maybe this is already present somewhere.
I don't know how Moodle people will improve the file picker, but even if the improvements that will no doubt be made for 2.0 don't go far enough, you don't need to jump onto Moodle 2 the instant it is released in October or whenever. In fact you'd be ill-advised to do so in my opinion. Surely most people with important systems would already wait at least for a 2.0.1 or something, by which time there might be other interface improvements if it's causing serious problems.
You're not the first person to say to me (it's just) "we used to do it this way" issues. I think that's a remarkable attitude. Spectacular amounts of time, money and effort have been invested in the "way we used to do it". There are thousands of people out there who are reasonably happy to work with Moodle that way it is - albeit with all its limitations. Now I am absolutely not resistant to change... but... we must throw out the baby with the bathwater. Any change has to be justified, it has to provide a *significant* benefit over "the way we used to do it" and, better yet, it has to be reasonably intuitive.
You say that lots of people care about stuff like resources owning files. I have given it some thought and read the developer docs and I haven't the slightest clue what this is supposed to do other than complicate things. I'm prepared for disagreement but I don't think I am *that* stupid It would be really useful if you could backup your assertion with some "real world" examples.
There was an argument some time ago that the Ford Escort (mark 4 I think) was rubbish because they asked a public focus group what it should be like. The average user doesn't know what can be done so they want something very average. This is true. We *can* give users new stuff that they will love but we have to be VERY careful how this is presented. Users like options that they can easily understand. Things that are obscure or hidden away, require an administrator to set up and/or require reading some complex documentation to implement are, IMO, a failure.
However, at the end of the day, you are probably correct that the interface tweaks to make this a lot better may not be that huge. Let's hope so
Basically the reason developers want to change it so that the system actually knows what files are used for what is that it's fundamentally imposssible to make the system work correctly without that. It works nearly correctly, nearly all of the time, and that's usually enough, but it can cause big problems (including in user interface - backup/restore has some crazy file options that are totally incomprehensible and this is the only reason why they're needed).
Here's an example though.
Supposing you make a quiz question in a course. Now supposing you want to reuse that question on another course. That's not some kind of crazy weird requirement that only a developer would ever have, right? That's an everyday thing you want to do all the time if you write quiz questions.
Now, can you do that in Moodle 1.9?
You might think the answer is yes. In fact the answer is 'yes but it doesn't work properly'. 1.9 doesn't know which files each question uses, so if your question refers to - say - a couple image files or a video clip or a Flash animation (that itself refers to a couple of image files) or a PDF download, you transfer it, probably that gets lost.
This is one reason why quiz questions are usually so pathetic (tedious multiple choice). It's too much effort and too unreliable if you make them better, such as by including pictures and the like.
Similar examples apply to transferring everything else - not excluding whole courses - within a Moodle instance or between two instances. (Whole courses are in the 'nearly always work' category, but there is still an issue if you use site files.)
In addition, when you delete something, now you won't be left with a course file area that has a million files lurking around that you don't know which ones are used. It'll delete the files that are no longer used (well, mark them deleted - er - let's leave that aside - the practical effect is the same).
One of the developer benefits of the new feature is that it makes it a lot easier to store files that are associated with something (such as a forum post, say). In Moodle 1.9 that has to be implemented separately for everything, which is why some items support attachments and some don't. In Moodle 2 developers can use standard mechanisms to attach items, doing less work. You might be thinking, so what? This is a developer benefit, I asked for user benefits. But here's the user benefits that apply - mainly in future versions, some already - as a direct result of this developer benefit:
- Students can add images/media to forum posts, wiki pages, etc using the same interface without faffing around with external file storage. (this is a HUGE benefit, for us at least.)
- This will all work correctly through backup/restore or any similar transfers; currently backup/restore can be flaky with regard to user files, precisely because it's difficult for developers. Something that's difficult suddenly turns into something that's standard and requires no work, which means nobody (except the core developers) can introduce bugs into it.
- Security is improved because users can't possibly override each others' files, and access controls (you're not in this group so you can't see that forum post so you can't download their attachment) also apply. You mentioned this already; it's not just about URL guessing, there might be ways in which the URL leaks out for some reason too. [Of course the document itself might leak out and it's still insecure but at least the system's doing everything it can].
- Attachments in general gain a more consistent interface.
- Attachments can be supported in more places.
I'm on holiday now so this is probably my last contribution to this thread.
Pre-1.9 a category had a publish option. It was dead simple and obvious and for most people allowed them to share questions with other users in the site. It was a bit blunt and it broke when the quizzes had files attached but a significant number of users found it really useful.
In 1.9 however a beautifully elegant and logical solution was introduced that aligned question permissions with the roles structure and went some way to solving the files problem (as you say the Moodle 2.0 improvements are needed to do it right). BUT... a huge blunder was made. They took away the "publish" button. Now some will say that by creating a special role and assigning it in a special way and explaining (very slowly and more than once) how to use the feature that teachers can still share questions. But they can't - because there is NO option so they don't know about it. Even if they do they don't like to ask and this is IF your administrator knows how to set it up and/or can be bothered.
My point - the features you talk about are great and I'm not complaining about them for a minute. I will almost certainly be using them in projects myself and be grateful for them. BUT (again).. I also have to support real users and this simply must not be at the expense of the usability of Moodle.
At the risk of having a stuck needle, the danger words are "ask your admin to...", "see the documentation at...", "you need to create a role to...", "you need to enable the plugin...", "that's a legacy feature, but..."
I should shut up now
Oh, enjoy your holiday. Somewhere nice I hope!
The idea of 'update this file' and the choice to update all files (or none) linked to it is another idea I like too; but as Howard correctly states all of these improvements can not come at the expense of the usability of the system for teachers and course providers already using Moodle.
I am very doubtful we will upgrade any of our main systems to 2.0; however we will upgrade test systems as son as we can to begin working on the new training programmes we will have to deliver to all of our users when we do upgrade. Hopefully these tests can help by feeding information about the UI and usability back to the community at large.
I've been reading with great interest all the posts about this issue, and with the same concern as others have for regular non-technical teachers (not that I am any different) I haven't said much because I am pretty useless at coming up with solutions and I think complaining without being constructive isn't particularly helpful
However, I do agree that something called that, or similar, would basically solve all the issues raised and keep the teachers happy -and you could still have all the various bits of the course in all the various parts as well..
I've never subscribed to the "don't bring me problems, bring me solutions" viewpoint. Having a good moan about things can get the discussion going and get people thinking. If nobody says a thing or voices their concerns problem areas can go uncorrected.
Well done Elena, Howard and everyone else for continuing to develop this discussion, and everyone else joining in, it's such a critical point for Teachers, and in 1.9 it is very simple, everyone 'gets it'. I see numerous discussions on Moodle.org where teachers or course creators are discussing different views to developers, and this is one of the most difficult things to do, but always worthwhile
IF a "View existing files in this course" feature is available it may go some way to solving the problem for Teachers. It's essential. And I agree it will often become a 'default view' for Teachers. (Webdav is not an option for an average teacher, and I bet most Moodle Admins cannot setup and use external repositories - and as the free easy-to-use 'LMS for everyone' certainly shouldn't suggest external apps are the primary way to handle files anyway).
I haven't built a new Course in 2.0 to the same (finished) level as in 1.9 yet, but right now it seems the course creation process is taking longer (bad) because of basic file use.
I'm also going to be interested to see how an existing Course (which uses a combination of 'personal' files (e.g. uploaded to an activity) and many links to the "Files area" (some of which are used multiple times) will transfer to a Moodle 2.0 environment.
e.g. we might have documents/images that have not been used yet, but will be later.
Where will they be, and how do we get to them (I've not figured that out yet!)
Even with all the advantages of the new file handling, there are too many drawbacks currently (confusing file picker, no "Course Files" view) to recommend clients to upgrade. I think the difference is SO great, that we would have to have to train people on Moodle 2.0 before they upgrade Moodle 2.0 because the difference is affecting something so fundamental and central to the teachers day-to-day (even minute-to-minute) work. http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-23306 Voted and Watching
Have been reading your posts for years and have always appreciated your straight-forward honesty. I read your posts with great interest here...
After spending last two weeks trying to find some File Picker 2.0 logic I could use to base my future 2.0 conversion training on, I have a headache from reading posts that justify doing ugly things to end-users and no clear idea of what/how to use File Picker, as well as a very bad sense of back-lash that might be coming soon if I throw my teachers (especially shared course-instructor staff) into the Moodle 2.0 file picker.
I would v. much like to know where you are at now with your File Picker 2.0 experiences and do you still think it needs serious work ?
If yes...is there anything we can do collectively to make a case to Moodle HQ about what is needed?
I have been a Moodle evangelist for 5+ years and just when I see the largest growth in interest in Moodle I have seen in half a decade, along comes Moodle w. File Picker 2.0 and I am embarrassed to even try to explain or justify it to my users. Someone asked in another forum, is it time we all gave up on Moodle file management and instead adopt a real object repository like Alfresco or Equella? I would really appreciate your current position and knowing your thoughts on FP 2.0 as it currently stands.
For anyone interested in this "course files management in 2.0" topic, Martin D. has just suggested a solution in the tracker, see MDL-23308.
If I am an admin in course X, and when I am working IN course X, is it possible for the Server Files in the Filepicker to expose to me all the files uploaded in association with Resources in course X by other admins in course X?
My understanding is Yes.
I've searched the forums and the docs. Here is the only sentence I can find on server: "Server Files - very similar to the current course-based file manager, except user-based" in http://docs.moodle.org/en/Repository_API Probably needs tweaking to be more accurate, but I am not clear enough to do so.
Sometime I think there is a lack of distinction in discussions between a 'repository' and a 'set of files in Moodledata'. I do not regards "server files" as a repository. I see them as a view of files already stored in Moodledata.
The question I have is what files is 'server files' supposed to expose? From the comment quoted above it is "All the files I have uploaded - and are currently associated with an activity in all the courses I am an admin in".
Does this include files I uploaded to courses I no longer am an admin in, or just current courses I am an admin in? [If this is true, then server files is a misnomer]
Musing: This all came about when I was working in a course with Andrew, fixing up something, deleting an image in a label, then having done this I couldn't find it to use in the right place. To quote one other person, this nearly does in my head. What happens then? Is it completely gone to al intents and purposes and need to be re-uploaded, or is it in recent files? But I'll worry about this later.
Hi Derek your phrase Does this include files I uploaded to courses I no longer am an admin in, or just current courses I am an admin in? made me think. My understanding of "admin" is site admin and so therefore in server files you have access to everything everywhere. I hadn't considered being "admin" of a course as I tend not to use that in our Moodle installations -and I am not sure you can be "admin" of a course in Moodle 2.0 as you could previously in 1.9. In terms of being a "teacher", my understanding is that you will only see files from the courses where you are a teacher -both in server files and recent files.
This may be still being discussed elsewhere but I cant find a thread or tracker issue around it:
The Upload a file should only allow uploading of a single file (currently allows multiple) and should not give the option to create folders (as these cannot subsequently be linked to).
And/or allow existing folders in "System" to be used as the target of an “Add folder" link.
I have more detail but the file is too large to upload here.
Are you talking about Add a resource > File?
This functionality is actually needed. Otherwise in installations that do not allow external linking people will not be able to create small webpages under one "roof"/link on the homepage.
To replicate 1.9 behavior they can create one "File" resource, upload their zipped 'website" there, unzip, and set index.html to be main. If the links inside the original website are set to be relative, it will work ok.
p.s. And if one will upgrade 1.9 courses in place, he will see that all of the individual html pages that had any images/files associated with them in the Course Files, now will get their own structure of images and files associated with them on the Resource level.
I'm not sure we are on exactly the same track here. Upoading one zipped file and unzipping it to preserve internal structure seems fine the way you describe - you still only need to upload the one file though.
But why would you want to upload multiple files using the Add a file resource? Only one of them can be linked to. Users find this confusing I think.
Also why would you want to create a folder under this same option (as opposed to under the add a folder option). You cannot subsequently make use of the folder you created this way unless I'm missing something.
You might want to upload a lot of files to a single file resource, because the file might be an HTML file, that uses a lot of JPG and CSS files to work.
Yes, I see that; that's what Elena was talking about I think. Though still uploading them one at a time doesn't seem the way to go. I haven't made it work yet but I'll continue trying (this is why you have Select as Main File in the file menu of course).
I've noticed that if you create a folder (using the Add File option) then link to a file in that folder you get the folder icon in the course so now I'm not sure why we have both File and Folder in the Resource menu. But it can't hurt I guess.
I am, however, glad that we took the bold move of upgrading to Moodle 2 at the start of this academic year (Oz) and I won't have to re-educate all of our teachers from 1.9 to 2.0 mid year.
This is getting off the topic of usability and may be an actual bug. However, you seem to have experience on this issue.
I tried what you suggested here and everything is working fine at one level of nested html pages (using the popup option). However at a second level of nesting the link breaks with a Moodle File not found. Curiously when I go directly to the nested link in a browser using the URL it asks for an enrolment key. Eg:
I can access when logged in and enrolled, but
Asks for the enroment key for the course. Curious.
Have you tried html in Moodle 2 with nested links yet?
ps I've just noticed a similar postings in the Repositories forum eg:
and a possible solution documented here:
In case others get to this post...
hmm, I would need to have real access there, or the sample of files that you have tried to upload
Hi Tim, Elena
leaving aside the creation of mini-sites for now (works partially), there is still the issue that the Add folder resource link does not enable a link to an existing folder and, in fact, acts identically to Add a file as far as I can see.
I still can't find a bug report around this, should I file one?
This is just 2.0 way of things, unless you are talking about something else
Add a Resource > File - is a new type of resource when you copy files or upload directly into the resource area (aka post picture right on the facebook wall, no linking).
Add a Resource > URL - is the old 1.9 way of linking to files or websites.
Add a Resource > Directory - is also a new resource type, similar to File above, where you can create collections of files. This collection is also created right on the course homepage (no linking). This is not the 1.9 Add a Resource > Folder.
OK so it's a feature not a bug. Thanks for your help.
I think that it would be very useful to create a link to an EXISTING folder (perhaps created in the Personal file area or in the file system).
Is it possibile?
Yep, I agree that it would be super useful, but Add a Resource > Directory is gone from 2.0, and no other option allows one to replicate that 1.9 behaviour.
Or I cannot find a workaround
If you have a folder in the outside from Moodle repository, you can still use Add a Resource > URL and provide a link to a folder that way.
But if you have a folder in the Moodle Legacy course files, for example, then you are out of luck.
P.s. I've just noticed that I've mixed up titles of the Resources in my previous post above. It should be stated as this instead:
"Add a Resource > FOLDER - is also a new resource type, similar to File above, where you can create collections of files. This collection is also created right on the course homepage (no linking). This is not the 1.9 Add a Resource > Directory"
on a side note: I believe that as 2.0 will get installed more, there will be a lot of confusion between Resource Types, such as "File" and "Folder", and actual files and folders.
It might be beneficial to rename those, e.g. "File Resource", "Folder Resource", or something.
Elena "It might be beneficial to rename those, e.g. "File Resource", "Folder Resource", or something."
I know this post is a little old, but it still the same, just recently version 2.8.1 was launched.
I am against the way file management works in version 2.x, is has to be much better than this, but why it was chosen in the first place, developers could had the choice to store files based on the 2 methods, Blackboard as an example provides many methods of storing files, one of them is the course files being all together, which makes it easy to use third party development tools.
I have traced some images uploaded to a course to find that they are stored in moodledata in a randomly generated folder structure, changing the name of the file to something like "5637bafebcd06b5712a46a2071f5303e648235et" without any extension, this means it is only identified in the database and every change has to be within the Moodle interface.
Again, looking into the near future, I hope that methods of file management will change, something similar to Blackboard, which allows to upload folders of course structure through FTP, WebDAV or alternatives which should make Moodle more powerful.
For the security issues, it has to be managed differently.
Best regards to all
You might want to read about repositories in the Moodle Documentation at https://docs.moodle.org/28/en/Repositories
and in particular about the file system repository at
I think that you will find that you can actually use files in whatever folder hierarchy you want to devise with the added benefit of using relative links so that if you use the same files in more than one location in Moodle, you only need to update it in one place to have it show the new version everywhere in Moodle.
I especially like to use the Dropbox repository, and others similar to it. I can take take pictures on my phone that show up for use in my Moodle Dropbox repository in just seconds without me having to do any ftp, etc. even though I often do just that.