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Picture of Glenys Hanson
ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
 

Hi everyone,

I thought it might be useful to have a list of ForumNG pros and cons - you can download it from Google docs: forumng.2.34.zip. (I've put it here because I don't find it easy to locate.)

I'm not sure my list is complete - can anyone help?

Cheers,

Glenys

Advantages

  1. Advanced DHTML/AJAX (dynamic web page) support in the discussion page, which allows you to reply to, edit, rate, and delete posts without leaving the page.

  2. Unique (only) discussion view which combines the benefits of 'nested' and date-related views; it is a nested view, so you can see the discussion structure, but except for unread posts (and their immediate parents), posts are 'collapsed' to a short summary, so you don't have to scroll through mounds of junk to get to the unread posts. Expanding a post is one click away.

  3. Thanks to 2), when replying to a post, the whole previous discussion can be visible, not just the previous post.

  4. Up to 3 attachments can be added.

  5. Ability to merge discussions.

  6. Forum locking.

  7. Save as draft.

  8. "Change subject (optional)" appears when replying as hint to do so if necessary.

  9. Permalink: a direct link to a particular posting.

  10. Export to Word.

  11. Show readers: list of people who have viewed the discussion via the website even if they haven't posted.

  12. The rating system has friendly star graphics (this can be modifed to whatever you want) and can be used for grading or without a grade.

  13. Sticky discussions - choose to have a discussion stay on top of list.

  14. Mark posts as important.

  15. Popup message warning you to copy the message before refreshing the page.

  16. Popup Warning: You must save any changes to this post before 10:19 AM. After that time you will no longer be allowed to edit the post.

Disadvantages

  1. Images uploaded as attachments by students form their hard disks do not appear in the body of a message. - they appear as attachments. This was at the request of OU testers. I'd really like to have this as an option in 1.9. In 2.0 students can upload images anywhere directly through the HTML editor.

  2. Not integrated with Moodle core features:

    1. Does not appear in the 'list of all a user's posts".

    2. Not integrated with the Latest Course News block.

  3. A post is considerd "empty" and won't post if there is no text, only an image.

  4. To include teachers in "Force eveyone to subscribe" the teacher ID "3" has to be manually added by the Admin to the list of Subscriber roles in the ForumNG settings.

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Well done Glenys.

The "docs" are here: http://docs.moodle.org/en/ForumNG I compiled them to get some order in my head on ForumNG, but never finished them.

I've been wondering what to do with forums.  The roadmap says refactoring forums for 2.1 . . .    http://docs.moodle.org/en/Roadmap

=========================

Refactoring existing modules

We'll mostly be working very hard on refactoring and modernising what we have (based on community feedback in the tracker and forums).

==================

I wonder if amyone has been assigned this in Moodle HQ?  Tim and Sam have mentioned the possibility of it being included in 2.1 http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=137549

We can only hope.

BTW, there are a whole bunch of forum issues in the tracker - random incomplete list:

Forums are pretty fundemental.  I hope they get onto it.  Now I;m stuck with core installs, and massive costs to change or instlal anything, I'd love this to be in the core.

-Derek

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Re advantage 4 and disadvantage 1: In Moodle 2.0, you can attach multiple files to a forum post in the standard forum, and in the Moodle 2.0 version of Forum NG you can embed images using the HTML editor like you can here. Therefore, you can cross those two off your list now.

Dis 2.1: This feature would have to be added to Forum NG if it was ever proposed that Forum NG be added to core.

Dis 2.2: Arguably, course news is not really a forum, and it might be better to make the course news system entirely independent of forums anyway. That is not my idea. I think I have heard Martin D saying it.

Dis 4. may be fixable now considering the new way of handling enrolments in 20, but I am not sure.

 

In terms of what "Refactor of the Forum module" on the roadmap means. Well, we have basically not been talking to HQ about this since the initial vague discussions ages ago that established that ForumNG becoming the standard forum was one possible option. HQ have clearly been busy with 2.0. sam has been working away busily at a 2.0-compatible version of Forum NG.

Once there is a finished 2.0 version of Forum NG, it will be easy for HQ to evaluate it for real, rather than hypothetically, so there is no real harm done that the conversation has not started yet.

 

I'm obviously biassed, but I am now using Forum NG  on the OU course I am studying, as well as using the forums here, and Forum NG is definitely nicer to use. The extra slickness in the interface makes things just a little bit easier. The one I particularly use is being able to see all the posts in a thread while writing a reply. (I just had to open Derek's post in a new tab to see something in it.) Also the fact that when you want to reply to two different posts in the same very active thread, you don't lose your place or your unread markers when making the first reply. Not that standard Moodle forums are at all bad. I like them a lot, but the little UI improvements in NG are worth it.

I have never had to look very closely at the ForumNG code. I have worked on sam's code in the past and it is generally very good, but before becoming such a critical part of Moodle, the code would have to be scrutinised very closely.

 

In terms of making a decision, I am sure that Martin will find it helpful to hear the opinions from as many different users as possible (I have no doubt that the developers will let him know what they think of the code behind the scenes). I would encourage you all to contribute to this thread.

 
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Picture of Glenys Hanson
Re: ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
 

Hi Tim and everyone,

I should have made it clear that my list of Advantages and Disadvantages refers to the Moodle 1.9 version. This is the only version I've used as a teacher with live classes and the possiblity of using Moodle 2.0 that way is months away in my situation. But I'm a convert (deliberate religious terminology wink), I'd never voluntarily go back to using the old forum. ForumNG is a great time saver when you're dealing with a lot of students and and a lot of messages.

I forgot one little disadvantage, even though it's AJAX, you have to click twice to rate a message instead of just once as on the standard forum. Is there a reason for it?

Cheers,

Glenys

 
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Picture of John Andrewartha
Re: ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Is ForumNG avaliable for Moodle2*?   If yes I can't seem to find a link to the module.  sad

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I know we have had this conversation before Tim when I did the ForumNG docs last year.

You serve one master (OU) but there must be some way we can help refine specs, crashtest, for NG in some kind of collaborative fashion like Glenys' comment->Help build a better product->Maybe get NG more esily accepted since there is a sense of involvement.

Don't you need a good demo site with profile??

My problem at the moment (on general, Media issues, navigation issues, forum issues) is this: "where to engage".  Talking in some areas (forums, trackers) about issues that are nearly showstroppers for people here is like pushing a marshmellow teddy: my arm sinks in to the shoulder, I then see there is no change, just a smiling teddy.  With every now and then a little suprise.

From the roadmap: "This roadmap collects the best information about upcoming features in Moodle. It is not 100% certain - features may change according to available funding and developers".  I have read the best information, and am still wondering.

IMO there needs to be a list of plugins and the roadmap, or current information on the database.  Or say "Don't know" if that is the case.

My 2c worth.

Onwards.

 
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Picture of Joseph Rézeau
Re: ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup TestersGroup Translators

Hi Derek,

Just to say I liked your "marshmallow Teddy" comparison.approve

Joseph

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

You are really talking to the wrong person. I spend all my time thinking about the quiz and question bank, and that is already a full-time job. I rarely read this forum, but I happened to see this thread and thought I could give some useful information, so I did. Not as much information and clarity as you might wish, but you are asking about things where no decision has been made.

Yes, things like a demo site would be a good idea, not just for forum and our other plugins, but also for the work I am doing on the quiz which is also targeted at 2.1. However, I fear it will not happen. We are all too busy and stressed about building getting Moodle 2.0 in a fit state to be released to our users; and in a large bureaucratic institution, just getting access to a server where you can install software just to demo it is essentially impossible.

Actually, we do use ForumNG (and the new quiz stuff) on our open content site http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/mod/forumng/view.php?id=396252, so you can see it in action there, but of course you can't just randomly play with the features there.

I am sure that if you are not actively involved in or tracking the developments, it can be very hard to see any immediate results of comments made here, but good ideas are read and noted. The whole point of the tracker is so that things do not get forgotten about, even if they can't be dealt with right now.

 

(P.S. you may wish to think about what time, in my time zone, I made my posts to this thread, before concluding that I only serve one master.)

 
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Picture of Steven Grindle
Re: ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
 

Folks,

I am currently working with Moodle 1.9.5 and I am having the following problem with ForumNG.

If I try to either backup a class that used ForumNG or import content from a class that used ForumNG, the backup (or import) will not complete and will not send an error message.

The only solution I have to date is to delete all ForumNG content in the original class before I import or backup.

  1. Is there a way to import/backup classes that use ForumNG in Moodle 1.9.5?
  2. Does Moodle 2.x have the same problem?
 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Obviously this is a bug. Can you try upgrading to the latest 1.9.11, and the latest ForumNG code?

Also, have you tried turning on Debugging to see if that produces an error message?

 
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Picture of Steven Grindle
Re: ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
 

Thank you, Tim H. for the comments.

At this point, we are leaning toward discontinuing ForumNG and re-considering ForumNG when we upgrade to Moodle 2.x

 
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Picture of Glenys Hanson
Re: ForumNG: advantages and disadvantages
 

Hi Steven,

Just to confirm: I haven't had backup problems with ForumNG in Moodle 1.9.11

Cheers,

Glenys

 
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