Lounge

 
 
Me
Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi all,

I've just been looking at the TotaraLMS site and I can't find a link anywhere to download it. If, as people are telling me, this is a fork of the Moodle code are Kineo allowed to make this closed source? Or am I wrong in thinking Totara is closed source?

Regards a slightly confused thoughtful,

Ian 

 
Average of ratings: -
Just wondering . . .
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

The website says TotaraLMS is open source

eg http://www.totaralms.com/about-totara

I don't think it of it as a fork either.  At any given time I think it is based on the next to most recent Moodle version.

-Derek

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Melissa Spratt
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

My company is thinking about purchasing an LMS and I am researching many of the them. Has anyone tried researching any of the clients they claim to have done business with? I called and searched the Nike website and I could not find any type of compliance training project called Inside the Lines--all there was were some documents on their Code of Ethics. So then, thinking that I may not be searching hard enough, I look for another client, Pepsico. Again, I find absolutely no LMS called Learn@Pepsico. So then, I move on to the 3rd client, HMV Group--again nothing.

Now, I consider myself to be a pretty good researcher considering I hold a doctorate, but if someone could provide me with names and websites that reflect any of the examples they have given me, I would be highly interested in seeing what you find find yourselves.

 
Average of ratings: Fairly cool (2)
Picture of Melissa Spratt
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Richard,

Why did you comment my posting as "not cool?" As a potential client, I am only researching LMSs so that I can make an informed decision. Do you have contact names and websites I can contact?

 
Average of ratings: -
Just wondering . . .
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Melissa,

'"Un-cool"  I can't speak for Richard of course.  But I can guess.

Maybe some of this dialogue is best conducted directly with Richard.  Courtship prior to a possible business relationship of this nature is generally done semi-privately.

Regarding your previous post: What you are looking for will probably NOT be found publically on the net, no matter how good your research backgound is.  The inhouse training solutions/community/intranet are often not plastered all over the public internet, for obvious reasons around commercial sensitivity of the content etc.  They are usually behind a firewall.

I'd suggest a phone call, or a skype.

I remember the discussion on whether to have ratings here, and the decision to have cool/uncool options. This is the first uncool I have seen, I'd never have noticed it otherwise.

-Derek

smiling

 
Average of ratings: Very cool (1)
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Melissa,
I don't think it's cool to be publically casting aspersions - "the clients they claim to have done business with?" is suggesting that we're somehow being dishonest. How could we possibly be using Nike, Pepsico logos etc. unless what we're saying is correct? Don't you think their corporate legal guns would be on us in a big way if this was not the case?

The normal practice here is to make an enquiry directly to the vendor you're wanting information from, and follow up with any references etc. This way you can indeed make an informed decision as per normal business practice. In contrast it is certainly unusual practice to suggest in a 3rd party public forum that a vendor is being dishonest about projects and that was the tone of your post and that is why I voted your post as uncool. I thought it was particularly strange, hence "uncool" when you haven't even contacted us at all. 

Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Melissa Spratt
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Richard,

Please accept my sincere apologies for my posting. My point was not to question the legitamacy of Totara at all, and I will try to explain things from my perspective. First, I joined this lounge as it was the only item that came up in my search of reviews for Totara. As a newbie to the exciting, yet ever-changing world of eLearning, my lack of knowledge is evident in the fact that I was unaware that large corporations such as Pepsico and Nike would have a firewall blocking the view of Totara's clients. Leadership at my organization appointed me to research LMSs so that we could have a system to deliver our online learning. During my search, I came across Totara and began to realize that systems such as Totara are so much more than the LMS that I have been exposed to (BlackBoard). I quickly realized that Totara could serve as a central delivery platform that accommodates both corporate and educational needs. My responsibility at this point tunred into a much greater amount of research of LMSs because I realized that I could replace many of the individual systems in our organization with Totara. Unfortunately, there has been quite a disconnect in communication within our organization resulting in a great deal of money spent and duplicated systems, that I wanted to conduct a thorough search to avoid a system that would be yet another duplication. For example, our organization has both Adobe Connect, WebEx, Eduphoria, Staff Tracker, a proprietary registration system, and Moodle. When I started working at this organization only 7 months ago, I recognized the inefficiency and waste of monies having these separate systems. When discovering Totara, and then trying to envision ways in which we could eliminate these superfluous systems, I wanted to also make sure that what I was telling my superiors what Totara actually does, and can do for our organization, was correct (with my limited knowledge of this type of system). With that being said, Ispent an entire day trying to look up the client examples Totara advertises, only to find nothing. It never occurred to me that there would be a firewall; I simply thought that I could get on the Internet and find lots of information and reviews.

I would like to reiterate that my intention was not to pose Totara as a dishonest company, but to find out information. My hope was that you, or others, would provide me with that information.

I love your product and hope that our organization can afford to purchase it as I believe in the long run, it will actually save us money, and more importantly, jobs.

Melissa

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Melissa,
Thank-you and my apologies too for possibly over-reacting by unconsciously mingling your post with that of others who seem to view a corporate focused distro of Moodle as being counter-productive somehow. Clearly that's not the case with your enquiry. The best way forward is to make your enquiry directly via www.totaralms.com or please contact me directly at richard.wyles@totaralms.com. I expect there are sound protocols wrt commercial promotion/discussions on Moodle forums.

I look forward to hearing from you.

kind regards
Richard

  

 
Average of ratings: -
Just wondering . . .
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I'm a bit slow sometimes, and only just noticed this today at MoodleNews: http://www.moodlenews.com/2011/a-new-hosting-model-for-moodle-introducing-the-vendorpartner/

2tor: a "New hosting model for Moodle" - Vendor/Partner. With $32,000,000 to play with.

From Joseph's Post: "To Moodle has been added a toolbox full of additional (but standardized) educational tools and activities which play upon the 2tor mantra of providing teachers the best way to translate their expertise into online media"

Another distro maybe?

-Derek

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Joseph Thibault
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

I don't think 2tor will ever share back the changes they've made to the Moodle core...what it seems like is that they've taken Moodle, customized it and then used it (in parallel to other systems) as the basis for their technology platform.  Add academic expertise and support services and they've created a new model for using Moodle which includes (but is not only) a hosted solution.

What 2tor represents is a Saas model that is moving slowly away from the LMS as the central fixture.  In effect they aren't "selling the code" so I don't think we'll ever see any contributed modules from 2tor, though the CTO did seem pretty standup and mentioned that he had had a conversation with Moodle HQ at some point.

That said I would love to see their "social layer" and how it works/plays with Moodle.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Don DaMoodle
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Rich according to totara's faq below:

Q.

Why isn’t there a free public download?

A.

There is, and it’s great software. It’s called Moodle and can be downloaded here.
It is a common misunderstanding that by extending a GPL application with more GPL features that we should have a public, free (free as in “free beer”) download. Totara Learning Solutions and our partners offer a commercial open source service. We do not have a public community offering and to do so would detract or even be seen as a fork of the Moodle community. We don't want that. We are proud to contribute and be part of the Moodle community.
Totara is a distribution of Moodle with a value-added services component including code support and maintenance, security updates, error correction, patch updates and a continuing stream of new innovations supported by our team. The Totara service is supported via product subscriptions.

Please also read our Moodle Policy.

 

 

It appears totara is subscribtion based. My company is alos looking into LMS solutions the question I have is

Why does the totara functionality never make it back to moodle distributions ?

or am I confused here seems like totara has a lot more functionality than the downloadable moodle dist

Please edify me Thanks

 
Average of ratings: -
My smart photo
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

My understanding of the GPL though, under which Moodle is licensed, is that even if totara doesn't openly distribute the source to their extended version of Moodle, they must still abide by the GPL, which means that their clients would have the right to distribute totara source themselves and in the open - if they choose to.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Christian Herman
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I think that applies to only modifications of the core and contributed codes.  Anything that Totara develops independantly, even if designed specifically to plugin to or overlay Moodle, isn't under GPL unless they choose to make it so.  That's the beauty of Moodle's format: it all looks integrated but nearly everything is a plugin.

I think you're right, though, that any extensions of modifications to included code must remain open source, no matter how much they change it.  It reminds me of a certain Android developer that got booted from the Marketplace for violating GPL by moding and porting GPL-licensed consule emulators and then selling them.

 
Average of ratings: -
Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

You think wrong: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html. Any Moodle plugin is inevitably a derivative work of the core Moodle code.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Michael Penney
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Melissa - I gave you a cool rating, I think it's a very reasonable questionsmile.

We have many corporate users using our Enterprise Learning Intelligence Suite for Moodle - a bit of a competitor to Totara - but it would be hard to find examples on the net for the reasons Derek describes. Our sales staff can give client approved references by request -we always check with our clients before using them as references.

We also provide full public documentation for ELIS, the docs describe what it does and how it works, and we also provide webinars where specific questions and use cases can be asked of our staff.

Welcome to Moodle.org!

 

 

 
Average of ratings: -
Mark Aberdour
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

That's right, these will be behind company firewalls. You need to speak to some Totara Partners and they should be happy to share some customer examples with you and maybe sort you out with some reference contacts. Bear in mind that Totara 1.0 was only released in March so many partners will just be going live now with their first sites. All partners should be happy to demo Totara to you and show you screenshots of their branded sites. http://www.totaralms.com/partners/find-a-partner

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

And we'll be publishing plenty of case studies soon enough - those names are just the beginning.

cheers
Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Joseph Thibault
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

Seems like a similar situation to Joule and Elis.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Chad Parmentier
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

We are very interested in Totara, what i found is Totara enhanced or maybe originally wrote the F2f Face to Face module. It tailors moodle for corporate business use. They charge 3000.00 for the code but say it is open to change or alter in any way you like. They also offer hosting and support services. It would be nice if you could just download the code as it is difficult to fully understand what enhancements and changes they made to moodle. They have a demo site but the admin role has many restrictions.

https://demo.totaralms.com/

 

 
Average of ratings: -
Mark Aberdour
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi all,

Hopefully I can shed some light on this, I lead on Moodle and Totara Solutions at Kineo's UK offices.

There's essentially two parts to this: Totara is an open source product first and foremost, and one which is made available under a subscription model.

The code itself is 100% open source under GPL v3 and meets all the obligations of the license, in particular in releasing the Totara team's efforts (over 100K lines of additional code) back to Moodle HQ for them to use as they see fit. One of the key things with OSS is that it's free as in speech not free as in beer - there is nothing in the open source definition that prevents charging for OSS, but there are certain obligations that you must meet. In particular, as a user, once you have the software you also have access to the source code and have the freedom to do whatever you like with that code, so long as you meet those same GPL obligations if you decide to change it and redistribute it.

There are many different open source business models and it's still evolving, but releasing a corporate distribution under a subscription model is the one that we felt suited the situation best. Basically the subscription revenue for Totara funds the development and support teams that will maintain and extend the project, and that is something which needs to be funded as this is a commercial endeavour and not being run as a community project.

There is a good article on open source subscription models at http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/simon-says/2011/03/open-source-procurement-subscriptions/index.htm

Hopefully that answers your questions smile

One of the other things I am keen to impress is that Totara is a 'distribution' rather than a 'fork' of Moodle. The Totara team are not disaffected developers who have taken the codebase and established a rival development community/project. Far from it! All of the Totara founders (Kineo, Catalyst IT and Flexible Learning) are huge fans of Moodle, but recognised it had limitations for a particular sector (corporate enterprises) and understood that Moodle itself was unlikely to seriously evolve in that direction. So a distribution was the obvious choice, extending Moodle with those corporate focussed features like organisational hierarchies and competency frameworks which were of little use in the education sector. This allows us and any Totara Partners to essentially pitch Moodle directly against the likes of Sumtotal, Saba, Kallidus and Cornerstone, something which was very hard to do previously. So while Moodle gained a good footprint in the small and medium business sector, getting into large enterprises was much more difficult. Distros are generally seen as a mark of maturity in open source products as opposed to forks which are very much frowned upon. Think Drupal and Linux, which are great examples of mature open source products with loads of different distros available that help people implement an OS product into a specific market more quickly than would otherwise be possible - that's the intention with Totara smile

Cheers,

Mark

 
Average of ratings: Cool (3)
Picture of Bryan Williams
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Mark,

Since you have taken time to comment on this post with a nice intro to your project, I'll also chime in so that if anyone reads this they won't be confused over the difference between Moodle and Totara.

First, let me address your comments about Moodle not being fit for corporate, or being perceived as only useful for smaller businesses and limited in this sense. This is far from the truth.  Some of the largest organizations in the world are using Moodle as it has a weath of added features and customizations done by Moodle partners and other developers.  Since 2004, when the Moodle Partners program was established, about 35% of our client base (growing each year) have been corporate. We (Remote-Learner) and other MP's have created many features specific to this user groups needs over the past 7 years.  In fact, the ELIS for Moodle collection of integrated features (shipping for 2 years now) addresses specific needs corporate users have. Most of the Moodle partners around the world also support large corporations, giving those users the assurances they are getting authorized Moodle services (i.e., directly connected with the lead developer).

Next, by most accepted definitions Totara is a fork. While operating systems (e.g. Linux) may have distributions (Red Hat, Mandrake, Ubuntu), open source applications have forks (e.g., SugarCRM forked to vTiger; Mambo forked into Joomla etc.). There is only one distribution of Moodle and that is Moodle itself, officially found here at moodle.org. You mention Drupal (another PHP application). Like Moodle, there is only one Drupal application.  You can get Drupal in different configurations from a Drupal partner (e.g. Acquia has a few), but they are all called Drupal and use the trade mark. Anything else that exists is not Drupal and would be a fork. That would be the same with Moodle.

While anyone can fork open source software (all perfectly legal) for their own reasons, history often shows that while in the short term the code base might remain compatible, over the longer term the code base tends to diverge. That is, those who adopt a forked project may find it becomes a path with no return to the parent project. Some forked projects succeed, most do not. Sourceforge is a graveyard of such projects.

 
Average of ratings: Very cool (1)
Mark Aberdour
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Good to hear from you, Bryan.

The thread was largely about whether Totara is open source, hopefully I answered that.

Without wanting to go too far off topic, I was also keen to simply clarify the use of the term fork, as every single person involved in Totara will be keen to point out, we are not forking Moodle. I like the Drupal analagy personally, there are some useful resources over at Drupal Distro Watch which lists about 15 Drupal distro's but worth noting in particular is Drupal founder Dries Buytaert's comments:

"It is important that Drupal distributions collaborate, and not compete. The good news is that we know how to do this. We've been through this already with CivicSpace, a Drupal distribution for online campaign management and grassroots activism. They were quick to realize that the success of the CivicSpace distribution depends on the success of Drupal core, and vice versa. The decided they shouldn't fork core development. Instead, CivicSpace decided to do all its development on the drupal.org infrastructure, to synchronize releases, to submit all patches upstream, to centralize bug reports, and to share documentation where possible. Collaboration, not competition."

This reflects exactly where we are at with Totara. We are collaborating with HQ, focusing on modular extensions, not undertaking core code development, feeding our work upstream, keeping Totara in lockstep with latest stable Moodle releases. The support we've had from Moodle Partners and enterprise customers worldwide has been phenomenal, and with their continued support we look forward to collaborating closely with the Moodle HQ and community to ensure Totara remains a successful and well maintained distribution for many years to come.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Don Hinkelman
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi, Mark. How does Totara contribute financially to core development?

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Don,
I'm probably better placed to answer that. I'm still talking to Martin how we best contribute. We wish to contribute financially and probably more importantly contribute code - we have always done so and it's easy to see where some of the stuff we've been working on aligns nicely with Moodle's roadmap. The Totara investment is quite significant & that investment can be seen as an investment into Moodle. I'm hopeful and confident that many of our innovations will find their way into Moodle core.

Despite what Bryan contends, we have absolutely zero intention of any architectural nor community fork. The development team is based in New Zealand, in Catalyst House, and we have been long-standing contributors to Moodle. That's not about to change.

kind regards
Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

The bit I am not quite getting is that you quote "CivicSpace decided to do all its development on the drupal.org infrastructure".

You seem to be doing your work on private infrastructure. For the contrib plugins you have enhanced or created, where are the git repos? (Where is the git or whatever repo for ELIS for that matter?)

On the one hand, Catalyst has long been an excellent Moodle community citizen, and their involvement in Totara allays some of my suspicions. On the other hand, Totara seems to have adopted the most closed of the open-source business models, so our suspicions are natural, I feel.

 
Average of ratings: -
Me
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Thanks everyone for your responses.

Then the upshot is that Totara is open source and does not breach Moodle's license agreement. I guess the question I have to ask then is: if Totara doesn't break the law then does it break the spirit of the law?

Rather than thinking of "...free as in beer", what I'm thinking is: buying Totara is like buying a car: once I've bought it I'm free to tinker with it as much as I like (within the bounds of the law) and can do pretty much whatever I like with it after I've bought it (sell it on, give it away)... but I've still had to buy it and there's no way, in practice, of getting around that. With Moodle, however, I can get around having to go to a reseller and buying it buy simply downloading it. The barrier is a lot lower.

Is that a fair?

Also...

I am interested in the Totara partnership programme and how it compares with the Moodle partnership programme because of an argument that I (ahem blush) waded into on my blog (here: http://iandavidwild.blogspot.com). Is the Totara partnership model better than the Moodle partnership model? And, hey: don't shout at me again everybody... I'm just asking the questions big grin.

I'm thinking the argument about what constitutes a fork is a semantic one and has the potential to go nowhere: it's not what call it that's important but what you're doing. Is what the Totara people doing sensible? I guess they'd say so wink but there seems to be a suggestion that it might not be? Why? What do people think?

Thanks again everyone and thanks for your candour,

Ian.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Reuben Charis
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

So just so I know  - totara is open source, but to see the source you have to pay $3000?

Moodle has a partners program, but totara has its own partners program that is not the same?

What is the difference between the Moodle partners program and the totara partners program?

As far as a fork if it wasn't a fork, wouldn't it be called "Moodle for Business" or something like that?

Why is it called totara?

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Ian,
Of course it's fair. No-one is forcing you to buy the Totara service. You seem intent that open source = free beer. It doesn't.  Read the GPL. We're not selling code. Totara is  selling a service. The subscriptions are for a value-added services including error correction, patch releases, in essence support and maintenance of the distro. Corporates need that assurance.

Wrt the partner models, they are structured very differently. Totara's is a subscription reseller network, Moodle is a royalty based program. That they are complementary is borne out by the fact that a number of Moodle Partners have option to resell the Totara subscriptions.

regards
Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Me
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Richard,

It's great to hear what you say and rest assured I'm not intent on anything. I appreciate the wording in forum posts can be difficult to interpret sometimes but don't worry (and In case you're wondering): my temper is intact and I'm only asking questions so I can better understand the situation smile. I've got no axe to grind wink.

What you've just said about corporates is perfectly understandable and I fully appreciate why you've adopted this particular reseller model to support them (I'm thinking Red Hat and Fedora is a good example to support your argument?).

I've been pondering Moodle's partnership model (and come in for a bit of stick for doing so, to be honest.. but, hey, these shoulders are strong big grin) and you've clearly highlighted a problem with it... at least as far as the corporates are concerned.

However, I must ask the following and it is asked with the utmost respect and is not intended to be provocative: why didn't you urge Moodle HQ to enhance or restructure Moodle's partnership programme? Why go out on your own?

Thanks in advance,

Ian.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Ian,
Thanks. Believe me I have been doing exactly that...the discussions continue.

cheers
Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Tim,
You ask an important question here. Why no public repo? Hopefully my answer here also answers Reuben and Ian's queries on this topic.

Any sustainable FOSS project has a business model. Moodle has the Moodle Partner program and has also benefited (productwise) from 3rd party large grants - e.g. 1) Hewlett Foundation to Open University and 2) NZ Govt. to the NZOSVLE project which I led. The Moodle Partner program is a royalty based scheme for services provided under the Moodle trademark.

There's other business models like dual licensing (which is rather horrible as it's a bait and switch tactic). Or there's open core - which is where you have the core programme open but need to but proprietary plugins to really make it work. These are common models and in my view on the closed source end of the spectrum as the freedom to extend etc. is not there - in either of these models the GPL doesn't extend throughout 100% of the code.

Another common open source model is subscriptions for support. That's what we're doing with Totara. We don't make money from the Partner network - yes there is a fixed annual fee from Totara partners but that's simply to cover the provisioning of services we supply to them. It is a reseller network for the subscriptions for support. So it is very different to the Moodle Partner model and designed to complement.

In contrast to the above models Totara's subscriptions for support come with 100% GPL extensions to a standard Moodle. Compare this to most commercial open source models and you'll soon realise that our model is open.

So why no free download? We have explored various scenarios here and we would not necessarily be averse to a free download. There's implications to consider though and the current position (discussed with Moodle HQ) is that having an open repo would not necessarily be in the interests of Moodle. Why? A free download would need to be supported. In an open community model like Moodle that burden is shared (albeit unevenly) across the community. So if we were to offer a free download, inevitably we'd want to build community around it to help make that sustainable. Btw, we have good experience in doing this with www.mahara.org

So an open download inevitably needs community for sustainability. If we were to build an open community around the Totara distro that would constitute a fork in the community. We don't want that. We're long-standing members of the Moodle community and we are loyal to this community. We'd prefer to contribute our innovations into Moodle directly.

This is why we have concluded that the best option at the moment is to have the subscriptions clearly stated as a value-added service. Totara provides some assurance to corporates that we offer the equivalent of a support and maintenance agreement and many corporates need exactly that or they stay frozen in FUD.  If you don't want the service, no problem, Moodle offers an  free download supported by the community model. Or if you do want value-added services then there's a lot of very good Moodle Partners and also other service providers around. It's great software!

To Reuben, why is Totara called something different and not 'Moodle for Business'. Moodle for Business would designate that Totara is the official business distro of Moodle. It's not. Remote Learner has ELIS for example. It is the preference of Moodle HQ that we do not use the Moodle trademark in our name or buy-line. We've been discussing the Totara initiative with Moodle HQ from the beginning and there's never been any desire by Moodle or us that these extensions get branded as Moodle.

So why do we have a partner model at all? Because we need to reach and serve the demand in the corporate space. While some Moodle Partners serve the corporate market, many do not. Several Moodle Partners are also Totara partners.

regards
Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Me
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

That all sounds perfectly reasonable and understandable but, again, I'm still left wondering why, perhaps, in the ongoing discussions you've had with Moodle HQ, why it wasn't suggested to - and the support given to - Moodle HQ to do what Totara Limited have now done? Was it that Moodle HQ didn't have the capacity to support corporates in the way Totara Limited have?

I'm wondering if, now they've been mentioned in this discussion, someone from Moodle HQ could perhaps give their side?

Thanks again all for a great discussion and, again, apologies if I'm sounding too provocative... that I like a good debate I think might be the publicly elected official in me big grin,

Ian.

 
Average of ratings: -
Mark Aberdour
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 
Richard, thanks for the thorough answers there, appreciate how time consuming these things can get! Ian, I just wanted to say you're not coming across as provocative at all. I have read your blog pieces about the Moodle partner model and it's clear you have thought deeply about MP model and I think you ask the right questions on there, some of which I would like to answer on there if I ever find the time! It's a shame you had to ask them on an outside blog but I completely understand your reasons for doing so smile The MP model would be a very big ship to turn but I notice that it IS turning (eg MPs opening offices in other territories) so I believe there is cause for optimism there. I don't think it's any secret that at Kineo we applied and got turned down several times to be a MP on the basis that no more were being recruited in the UK, and we have to respect that decision. But yes, I'd like to see it changed too but thats off topic, I'll pick that up over on your blog smile Ultimately Totara is collaborating closely with HQ rather than competing. As Richard says the coversation is ongoing so i think it's 'watch this space' time, it's quite slow moving as obviously Richard and HQ have many other priorities. We will keep you posted!
 
Average of ratings: -
Me
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Thanks Mark and Richard,

It's been great to have your input. There are obviously unanswered questions and there are worries (which I think we all share) about how Moodle and Totara will coexist and how this relationship will look to the outside world... which I have been pondering on my blog here: http://bit.ly/hnWbux. Again, no answers on there... only more questions big grin.

Of course, we actually don't know how the relationship between Moodle and Totara will develop (none of us has a crystal ball) but I am most reassured that we have had this debate in the open (contractual/legal obligations allowing) and as long as nothing is taken for granted and issues are reflected on thoroughly then I'm sure everything will be fine.

Thanks again everyone,

Ian.  

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Les Heath
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Ian

This is an interesting question. I would also ask why, if as indicated the TOTARA team have provided such a large amount of code to Moodle HQ, is it not available in Modules and Plugins?

This surely would go someway to aswagging the critics of the "Open Source by subscription" lobby.

I too await some response from Moodle HQ on this issue.

 

Les

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Iñaki Arenaza
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

So why no free download? We have explored various scenarios here and we would not necessarily be averse to a free download. There's implications to consider though and the current position (discussed with Moodle HQ) is that having an open repo would not necessarily be in the interests of Moodle. Why? A free download would need to be supported.

Disclaimer: I'm not advocating that you offer a free download at all (but see my comment below smile

But I beg to differ. Neither in the legal sense nor in the "ethical" sense (or social sense or the way you prefer to name it) the GPL suggests (much less mandates) that you have to support what you license.

Having a community and supporting it might be one of the best ways to keep a GPL project going on, but that's orthogonal to the license and the spirit behind it.

Regarding the free download issue, if as you say "Totara's subscriptions for support come with 100% GPL extensions to a standard Moodle", then anyone can get a subscription and republish all of Totara code legally. USD $3,000 is not that high for someone that was really interested in doing it (heck, LibreOffice project raised € 50,000 in under 4 weeks to incorporate their foundation a couple of months ago smile)

Saludos. Iñaki.

 
Average of ratings: Cool (1)
Picture of Vikram Solia
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Bryan,

It would be great if Moodle Partners like Remote Learner and MoodleRooms could release the code for their platforms (ELIS and Joule) for the Moodle community.

Do Remote Learner have any such roadmap for ELIS?

Regards

 
Average of ratings: -
Capt. Moodle
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group DevelopersGroup Moodle HQGroup Testers

Vikram - I have found the Moodle Partners to be very generous in sharing their code back to the Moodle community; however, they sometimes wait to share the code so that what they share is reasonably polished and documented (since anything they make available to the public is to some degree a reflection of the company). This often takes some time and I have learned to be patient. I'll do my best to keep folks updated as I receive information from the Partners about code they are preparing to share back with the community. Peace - Anthony

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Vikram Solia
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Yes Anthony,

I have no doubt that is the case as I see many plugins contributed by Moodle Partners besides the contribution in the core.

It is just that to make its presence truly felt in the Corporate world, it would be great if the Moodle community could join hands for a common Corporate LMS strategy as well.

http://www.dr-chuck.com/csev-blog/2010/12/reaction-market-trends-and-michael-feldstein/

Vikram

 

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Bryan Williams
Re: ELIS for Moodle
 

Hi Vikram,

As earlier stated, ELIS for Moodle will be distributed under GPL.  On June 24th you will be able to retrieve from our repositories the community version of ELIS.  Go to http://remote-learner.net for the link and additional details.  We believe within a few weeks after that date community forums will be operational.  We welcome all developers who wish to participate in the advancement of ELIS to contact us.

Documentation on ELIS for Moodle is available at http://tinyurl.com/3w6tyup for those wanting to get a jumpstart. The current community release of ELIS supports the latest 1.9 release of Moodle, and is designated ELIS 1.9.  ELIS 2.0 for Moodle 2 will be available within a few months and will be followed by a community release.  ELIS has some great enterprise features for Moodle including its own PHP Reports engine, multi-tenancy support and multi-course program management for structuring online enrollments to name just a few.  </shamless plug> smile

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Vikram Solia
Re: ELIS for Moodle
 

Hi Bryan,

This is a great news for the community and I am sure that some of the core changes / plugins will find way back in Moodle core.

I hope this sets the ball rolling and other Moodle partners will be releasing their code to the community. Hope MoodleRooms are tuned in smile

Looking forward to the 24th.

Vikram

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Vikram Solia
Re: ELIS for Moodle
 

Hi Bryan,

I have skimmed through the documentation for ELIS and the feature-set looks very interesting.

While we await for the release of ELIS community edition tomorrow, would be great if you could outline the various features of the community edition and the ones that are available only in the Enterprise version.

Thanks in advance!

 
Average of ratings: -
Just wondering . . .
Re: ELIS for Moodle
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

http://www.moodlenews.com/2011/more-information-about-remotelearners-elis/

http://remote-learner.net/elis_story

smile

I rather think Bryan will be doing other stuff around the launch Vikram.  Check out Google.

 
Average of ratings: -
Just wondering . . .
Re: ELIS for Moodle
 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Vikram Solia
Re: ELIS for Moodle
 

Thanks Bryan and Team,

Downloaded the goodies. Will have a go at it tonight.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Chad Parmentier
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

This is a very interesting thread. Totara in my view really is not any different than Ellis or Joul with other moodle partners. I think they are different in the fact that they are not nearly as expensive and really hit the mark on what corporations want. They have an open demo site unlike Eliis where you can "test drive" the product. The is crucial if moodle / partners want to woe corporations like us, Federal Farm Credit. Totara has obviously spent time and money on what they have developed and should be entitled to charge for their code "legal spirit". I think it is different if we are talking about public sector education but we are not, this system appeals specifically to Corporations. Regarding whether moodle is the right fit for corporations out of the box the answer is no. Moodle like Blackboard, and other large scale LMS/VLE's are widely adopted by colleges who utilize SIS systems like Datatel for reports, transcripts, etc. Corporations don't have sis systems but need to produce transcripts, reports that show what courses "site wide" students have taken and not taken and so on. What all moodle partners and moodle offers to the business world are systems that make sense pedagogically. Businesses are slowly moving toward class offerings that are face to face and hybrid format. Delivering static computer based training modules, thought they have their place, are not effective for in-depth training. Aside from these points I hope that Totara and like systems continue to grow with moodle. Moodle in conjunction with what moodle partners have done truly sets moodle as one, if not thee, most powerful LMS systems available today.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Ralf Hilgenstock
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group DevelopersGroup Translators

Hello Chad,

there is a difference between the Elis/Joule business model and the Totara business model.  ELIS and Joule are only distributed by Moodle partners. Totara offers other companies to start own Moodle business within their partner program.

This means they can offer Moodle services. The main problematic point for me is that Totara partners will go to the market with the offering of Moodle+Totara services. Its not possibe to divide Moodle and Totara. Commercial service with 'Moodle' as name/logo is protected by trademark from Moodle Trust and Moodle Ltd controls access to this.

If Totara partners as long as they are not also Moodle partners use Moodle name and logo for advertising the service  I see the conflict. And its not only a trademark problem.  Lots of people don't know that moodle partners are the main financial background for Moodle development. If this concept breaks, it may be a problem over long time.

 

Ralf

 
Average of ratings: -
Me
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Ralf,

Just to add to your comment regarding the confusion between Totara and Moodle: at the moment the pitch from the Totara people when asked about what Totara is (from the Totara website and having spoken to Kineo UK sales representatives recently about Totara for one of my clients) is to say that Totara is Moodle plus enhancements... i.e. it's Moodle. See http://www.kineo.com/moodle/moodle-lms.html (hey, even the URL has Moodle in it twice big grin !)

Do people agree with Ralf that there will be a conflict between Moodle Partners and Totara Partners? This, I think, is where the argument stops being theoretical and becomes far more serious thoughtful...

What do Moodle/Totara partners think?

Thanks in advance,

Ian.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Chad Parmentier
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

This is concerning as I have used Moodle as a teacher since 2003 and very much support moodle. I am the administrator of my wife's high school Moodle installation and am looking at Totara for the corperation I am working for. I do not want to steer anyone on a path that is not supportive and benificial for Moodle. With that said should I be looking at Remote learner vs. Totara. Some advice on where to direct GreenStone would be helpful. My first loyalty is to whats best for the moodle community.

 
Average of ratings: -
Linda Screen
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

You may be interested in having a look at MITMS (Moodle Industry Training Management System)  http://wiki.mitms.ac.nz This was a TEC funded open source project, led by Open Polytechnic of NZ. The code is freely available and full documentation on the extensions to standard Moodle is provided.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Chad Parmentier
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

This is really similar to totara on first look even the graphics are the same....did they take part of this code? Reports graphics....same. competencies..same. Thank you so much for this post.

 
Average of ratings: -
Me
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Actually this is Totara! Please see this discussion thread...

http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=168060

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Chad Parmentier
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

I downloaded and installed the MITMS version of moodle and it is the same as Totara. The only difference is the theme as far as I can tell but there may be subtle differences once I create some test users and courses. FYI it is moodle version 1.9.9. The thing I don't understand is, what are the odds of MITMS being supported in the future, or is that where Totara comes in? I guess i am still a litte confused over the connections to companies.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
MITMS and Totara
 

Hi, there is a good reason why MITMS has some similarities to Totara. MITMS is an earlier R&D project that I led on behalf of the Open Polytechnic and a group of NZ industry training organisations. The funding had its limits (isn't that always the way!) and we got as far as we did.

MITMS ended development around May/June 2010. Totara represents an additional 4-fold investment and whole sections of MITMS have been rewritten. In addition to MITMS, scetions of Totara have benefited from collaboration with the Inland Revenue of New Zealand and Department of Conservation.

Chad, if you're interested in the background and connections here's a little bit of background reading.
http://cnx.org/content/m14644/latest/
http://totaralms.com/about-totara/company-information/brief-history

The short story is I have led a number of open source projects on behalf of the Open Polytechnic. NZOSVLE was the big one, back in 2004/2005 and directly led to the first large-scale deployment of Moodle at the Open Polytechnic. Open University, Athabasca, UCLA were all influenced by this work.

OSVLEII focused more on the feature-set including forum types, the start of MyMoodle, stats, request a course etc.  

I also conceived and secured funding for MNET whereby multiple Moodles could be connected through an encrypted data exchange using XML-RPC.

MITMS fits in this context but there are no more strategic funding pools of this nature in New Zealand now there has been a change of government. If we are to ensure these high level of contributions are to continue then we needed a different business model. Totara subscriptions are modest in price and corporates are willing to pay this for the services we provide. Moodle benefits as our innovations find their way into core.

The differences are way more than subtle! Totara represents a very significant investment by three companies; Flexible Learning Network, Catalyst IT and Kineo.

As far as I know MITMS is unsupported and there isn't any community around it. It was the outcome of a funded project that finished 9mths ago and as far as I am aware the Open Polytechnic, nor consortium partners, are not currently doing anything with MITMS. It could go into contrib. but it's not got a maintainer.  

That's the background.

kind regards
Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: MITMS and Totara
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

It is definitely a sign of Moodle coming of age that there are now starting to be independent packages/distributions like Totara and ELIS. It will be interesting to see how they play out.

I just had one thought that you might like to consider. The way Moodle development now works, people publish their proposed changes in their own git repository, which are then reviewed and integrated each week. (For example, all my changes go through https://github.com/timhunt/moodle/.) If you though it would be good idea to make it clearer which Moodle changes are coming from Totara into Moodle, then you could funnel them all through a single git repository.

On the other hand, perhaps that is silly. I mean, the OU does not send all its changes through a single account. If you wanted to know everything we were doing, you would have to follow at least me, https://github.com/sammarshallou/moodlehttps://github.com/anthonyforth/moodle.

Looking down https://github.com/moodle/moodle/network/members, most people seem to operate like that. I only spot a few institutional repositories. (Of course, the distributed nature of git means that not everything is on github.)

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Don Hinkelman
Re: Totara contributions
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

I am glad to hear of the code contributions of Totara and discussions of how Totara will support Moodle HQ financially.

Richard wrote: "Totara subscriptions are modest in price and corporates are willing to pay this for the services we provide. Moodle benefits as our innovations find their way into core."

Like Totara, our institution is contributing code that we think is vital to the future of Moodle and needs incorporation to core. Perhaps a hundred other institutions are contributing likewise. We all tend to overvalue our own code and Moodle HQ is overwhelmed in handling these contributions (though Martin is setting up a new plug-in contribution site along with staffing--a great boost that is so needed). In order to handle code contributions, first there are security reviews, testing, code revisions, documentation that need to be done by HQ staff.  That takes more staff than the 15+ we have now. I see we need 30 staff if Moodle is to grow and provide distributions to corporate, school, and university needs.

Therefore, Moodle HQ needs Totara's code, but it needs Totara's funding even more. So I hope your discussions with Martin go well. It would not be a hardship for Totara to contribute 10% of its subscription fees to Moodle Trust. Similarly, in Japan, we have attempted to create a systematic way for institutions to contribute financially to Moodle core development. Our Moodle Association sends 50% of membership dues to HQ after paying the costs of our annual conference. I hope all institutions, not just Moodle Partners, find ways to systematically support the core development with funds, as well as code.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Chad Parmentier
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

This is by far one of the more interesting forums I have posted in, with that said, I am finding Totara and Their hosting partners  frustrating. More the hosting partners than Totara. In doing some research I found that Kineo the Platinum U.S Totara partner quoted us with the following pricesadIm rounding btw $US)

Totara Code:
 $3000 annual

Hosting:

VPS server
60GB
960MB SLM
$3350.00 annual

Maintenance and support

35450.00 annual Covers upgrades

Implementation Fee required

25,000.00 one time
This covers a branded theme, 1 day training session, some customization, and initial set-up and config.

Total first year roughly: 38,154.00 US ongoing= 13,154.00

I have contacted Classroom Revolution and am awaiting a quote as they too are a Totara partner, so we will see.

I Installed the MITMS version of Moodle 1.9.9 and like it very much but as Richard mentioned work and support ended about a year ago. This is like Totara without some features and learning plans, but would satisfy the majority of needs for corporations like GreenStone. So my thought process lead me to wonder if 10 - 15K per year would be enough to maintain the MTIMS code base. I called a programming firm familiar with Moodle and they thought this was reasonably feasible (lot of unknowns though). So my question is If we were to lead the way and continue maintaining and developing the MTIMS code would anyone else support this either financially or in helping with the code? Unlike Totara and other partners I would like this to be completely open and available as a contrib. as Tim Hunt had suggested. What are your thoughts?

 
Average of ratings: Very cool (1)
Mark Aberdour
Re: MITMS and Totara
 
Hi Chad, just a very quick answer as getting late here, but you would be under no obligation to buy any services from a Totara partner. You could pay your $3k subscription, download the code and regular patches, and run it on your own server or install to a low cost hosting plan elsewhere. The subscription gets you plenty of docs, self paced training, bug support and updates, new releases etc. The $3k goes towards funding the Totara effort which feeds in code and hopefully, once Richard and Martin's conversation is complete, finance to HQ also. If you are a self sufficient Moodle install, you can be self sufficient with Totara too, engaging a partner is entirely optional. Cheers Mark
 
Average of ratings: Very cool (1)
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Yes, to reiterate what Mark has said - there is a split between the costs of Totara and what a partner like Classroom Revolution or Kineo USA offers for additional services. I expect some partners are geared towards large corporates so it's best to ask.

For Totara itself the $3K covers maintenance and support, including upgrades etc. You compare that to the $15K you've estimated to maintain MITMS. Perhaps this snapshot clearly explains the value we're offering - it's not about selling code, this is GPL afterall, we're offering an ongoing service and $3K is as low as we can possibly go here and surely it stacks up well against what you've been offered for maintaining an early forerunner system. Selling services is an intrinsic part of the open source model so I'm somewhat surprised at several of the posts in this thread.

One moment I take some pride in is being presented a Mellon Award by Sir Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the www) on behalf of the Open Polytechnic for the work done on Moodle during the NZOSVLE project. We have a very strong history of contributing to Moodle and that continues. I'm also proud of Mahara, the open source eportfolio project, and I'm very proud of what the team's achieving with Totara. Corporates need this service as they've been paying high proprietary licensing "rent" for way too long.

But if you just want free beer, don't go to Totara - it's a commercial service (based on freedom) afterall. wink 

 
Average of ratings: -
Me
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Hi all,

Just to (I think) back up what Richard says here: levels of support can be a big problem for corporates. They'll ask something along the lines of "there is a problem with Moodle - a security fix needed or whatever - so who do we go to?". Or another I had was "I want to hold a meeting with a representative from Moodle. Who do I invite?" When I explained about the Moodle partnership programme in answer to this question I was told that the partners were "too distant" from core Moodle development mixed.

Now I've got to say at this point obviously Moodle HQ would be fixing issues ASAP so that's not a problem (before anyone misunderstands what I mean and shouts at me again surprise) but, again, for corporates often that's not good enough. For instance, that's why one of my clients are running their Moodle on Ret Hat rather than a "free beer" solution like Ubuntu (which both I and their network manager tried to argue for). The reason for going with Red Hat was if something goes wrong or they need help then they can go to Red Hat - rather than, say, having to post a query on public forums.

Just as an aside: why not post on a public forum? It can be embarrassment that stops corporates from posting on forums - which is fair enough because you don't want to be seen to be looking incompetent in public ( how many Moodle Partners/employees of Moodle partners ask - or are allowed to ask - for technical help in the Moodle forums... at least using their own names big grin ). More often, though, it's deemed too commercially sensitive - rightly or wrongly - by the corporate to be posting for help and support in public. Possibly that's silly (I don't know) but at the moment that seems to be the way of the world.

Of course, if you compare this to a school or HE establishment - which is where Moodle started - then you don't have this problem at all. So that's why I'm not meaning to be critical of Moodle HQ, either (before you sensitive Moodley souls start shouting at me again tongueout).

Richard: please do correct me if I'm wrong but is this the issue that you're trying to overcome with your partnership programme?

Hope this makes sense,

Ian.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Oelmann
Re: MITMS and Totara
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

Maybe off-topic, but when suggesting Ubuntu v RedHat, perhaps you needed to point out to the decision makers that Canonical also provide paid for support for corporations who want those services for Ubuntu and the support does not have to be based on queries on public forums, although you will not find much that can't be answered 'free' in that way, but can be based on a more commercial footing - after all Canonical have to be profitable to support Ubuntu in the first place - just as Redhat need to be profitable to support their work on RedHat itself and Fedora.

There again, one of the advantages of Moodle is it will run on just about any os and so long as the base os is stable and the hardware powerful enough, it should be the moodle install that's important and not the base system it's running on.

Richard (O)

 
Average of ratings: -
Me
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Hi,

Regarding Ubuntu versus RedHat: you're absolutely right... sorry... I didn't really explain the background very well. Without going into details; in order to keep costs down (the budget was pretty tight - which it always is, naturally big grin) I offered the possibility that you could go completely free with Ubuntu on the server (I'm a bit of an Ubuntu fan so I may have let self-interest get the better of me blush).

Of course, as Richard and I have been describing, it's very rare for a corporate not to want the comfort of a support package so I would have been very surprised if they'd have bought that argument - but, in the name of "free beer" I thought it was worth a try. And who wouldn't want a free beer approve ?

And, ultimately, when it came to comparing a Red Hat subscription with the Canonical offering - rightly or wrongly - they went for Red Hat (to be honest it was partly based on the network manager's familiarity with Fedora, which is fair enough).

There was method in the madness, put it that way big grin.

Ian.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Pretty much on the nail there Ian. Subscriptions provide commercial quality documentation, self-paced training, bug support and updates, new releases etc. Corporates want this assurance for a corporate LMS.

Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Martin in black and white
Re: MITMS and Totara
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

Hi Ian,

Not shouting at you but just to gently correct your surmise about Moodle Partners and forums smile ...

One of the main advantages of being Moodle Partners is that they have direct priority support from us at Moodle HQ, via our helpdesk, the tracker and instant messaging, so they have no need to ask for technical support in the forums.  They are not "distant" from core development by any means, in fact a lot of them are involved in the roadmap.   Regardless, a lot of them do get involved in the forums anyway because they want to be involved in the wider community.

And of course the Moodle Partners themselves offer support contracts directly to their clients (including many many corporate clients) direct by phone, email and other means.

As such I can't see an "issue", as you put it.

Cheers!

 
Average of ratings: Coolest thing ever! (2)
Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: MITMS and Totara
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

The problem with that is that you originally constructed the Moodle community as an experiment in social constructivist learning. Could a community of peers collectively learn how to specify, develop, and use a quality LMS by actually doing it?

Therefore, it is a pity if partners are asking good questions in private, not in the forums.

It is also a bit of a pity that a lot of good discussions take place in the Moodle developers' Jabber chat, where not everyone has access to the potential learning.

In both cases, there is something of a trade-off between the less open discussion in exchange for other benefits. Therefore, I am not saying we must change, just that this is a point that is worth reflecting on.

 
Average of ratings: Coolest thing ever! (2)
Picture of Glenys Hanson
Re: MITMS and Totara
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

But Martin and Tim, "Coolest thing ever!" is not how I really want to rate your posts - I just think them "Useful" additions to the discussion.

Cheers,

Glenys

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of William Hamilton
Re: MITMS and Totara
 
...if we could all take a step back, think about what you just said, process it and then act on it accordingly...
 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Ben Frueh
Things that made me go hmm...
 

I've been using Moodle in a large corporation for four years. In that time, there have been a few things that have made me go hmm...

  1. Moodle's business model relying heavily on aggressive trademark enforcement
  2. A closed Moodle partner community
  3. No open repo for ELIS
  4. No open repo for Totara

There are many forum threads addressing why each of these are legal, ethical, necessary, etc, so we don't have to rehash them.

Collectively, however, these items make me feel like I'm using proprietary software, regardless of whether everything is on up-and-up with trademark law and the GPL.

Hopefully the increased competition we are seeing will drive change.

 
Average of ratings: -
Just wondering . . .
Re: Things that made me go hmm...
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Well Hi Ben, welcome to the lounge, and a very loungish post.

Not sure I get the message.  What makes you feel like you are using proprietary software when you use Moodle?

-Derek

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Ben Frueh
Re: Things that made me go hmm...
 

I misspoke a bit. When I'm using Moodle, I definitely feel like I'm using open source software. I have a happy glow, I can do whatever I want, the community and resources are great.

What I meant is that the items I listed strike me as incongruent with the spirit of open source software. They diminished the happy glow and were reminiscent of my experiences with proprietary vendors.

I'm a strong supporter of aggressive trademark enforcement, but in combination with the opaque mob-like "the books are closed" partner network, it turns a corner.

Similarly, calling GPL software without open repos open source, while technically correct, strikes me as disingenuous.

Once again, all legal, people can do whatever they want, it just diminishes my glow.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Eric Millin
Re: Things that made me go hmm...
 

I think the "glow" suffers because the GPL isn't appropriate for a web application.  The GPL was designed for binary distribution and it loses all its teeth when when you start dealing with uncompiled web apps.  It's easy for web developers to do what they want with GPL'd code regardless of the "spirit" with which the code is shared.

Honestly, I'm not sure why FOSS web developers even bother with the GPL.  It doesn't force anyone to share, it barely restricts how the code is used--in fact, it only seems to muddy the water.  It makes a lot more sense to go with something such as AGPL or Apache, licenses that are actually designed for network distribution.

With a license that's designed for web applications, you don't end up feeling, rightly or wrongly, like people are taking advantage of the project's core values.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Reuben Charis
Re: Things that made me go hmm...
 
So Moodle should be switching it's business model to make you personally more happy, or would it improve the software? If it would improve the software, how would it do that? If it is just about your happiness, why not just ignore the services of the partners? No one is forcing you to use their services, and you get to use the FOSS for free, and let other people support the Moodle developers.

Sorry, but saying that the partners who fund Moodle development are "disingenous" for trying to make money (I'm told 10% of which goes to fund continued Moodle development) is a bit odd coming from someone who works for a "large corporation" that sells software, and is very proud of the millions you make doing so: http://www.pega.com/about-us/news-room/press-releases/pegasystems-reports-highest-ever-license-signings-and-revenue-in-2, and yet demands that Moodle should abandon it's business model to make you happy.

Talk about things that make me go hmm, I think there are 100 or so Moodle Partners, who might need a BPM or CRM solution- guess you don't want them looking at Pegasystems products?

Hey maybe Totara could make some money by building a new business model around PegaBPM - where o where is the open repo??
 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Ben Frueh
Re: Things that made me go hmm...
 

Yes, Pega is doing very well as the leader in business process management. We sell primarily to Fortune 500 companies, competing with Oracle, IBM, and a number of smaller players. Our platform is written in Java, and it has a proprietary license and is closed source.

I teach employee, partner and customer developers how to use our software. Are there things at Pega that have made me go hmmm... over the last four years? Of course. For example, I have been an outspoken internal advocate of processes and policies that make it easier for Pega developers to obtain, install, and configure our software.

I did not say that partners that fund Moodle development are disingenuous for trying to make money. Money is necessary. I implied that the particular business model Moodle has chosen - limiting partner program access and using the trademark stick - seems incongruent *to me* with the spirit of open source.

And it's not just about how I feel. I believe the model hurts the product over the long-term by discouraging smart individuals and companies from getting involved and challenging the status quo.

Would I like to see open repos at Pega? Yes. Is their absence congruent with proprietary, closed-source software? By definition, yes. Would I like to see open repos for ELIS and TotaraLMS? Yes. Is their absence congruent with GPL, open-source software? To me, no.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Reuben Charis
Re: Things that made me go hmm...
 
Sourceforge is littered with the remains of good ideas that never found a way to support ongoing development. Moodle is one of the few FOSS applications that found a business model that lets it continue to develop new code and remain free.

Moodle's model is unidue- as I understand it (from talking to a very smart person at a partner's booth at a conference --I forget which partner but I think they had moodle in their name--) the model is built to find a way to develop support partners around the world, in many different languages and timezones as befits an application designed to transform education around the world. Very few other FOSS projects have gained the international presence of Moodle.

If you would have Moodle switch this model to one more in keeping with your personal vision of how FOSS should be done, which sucessful model would you have Moodle adopt? That of SugarCRM? RedHat? Mozilla? MySQL? Linux? How would this change preserve both the goal of funding free software for educators and of providing an international network of support partners in local languages and timezones?

Every successful open source business model has its critics, I've noticed. In some ways the FOSS community seems like one of those religions that has splintered into 100 different factions, each one holier than the others, more sure they have the one perfect path. The more successful a FOSS business model is, the harsher it's critics seem to be. I guess that speaks well to Moodle continuing on it's own unique path. I for one like to see different ideas succeed, so I hope Moodle does continue to go it's own unique waysmile.
 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Dan Trouten
Re: Things that made me go hmm...
 

As I understand it, Totara took the Moodle software model and did something else with it. It's not for moodle to reengineer it's software to work with the changes Totara has made. It would be Totara who would be responsible for creating an open repo that works in conjunction with Moodle. They are the ones who modified and created their own issues.

It's no different from working on cars. It's not the responsibility of a car manufacturer to make their car compatable with the parts from another manufacturer cars. In other words, it's not Fords responsibility to make their car compatable with parts from Chevy....

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of William Hamilton
Re: Things that made me go hmm...
 

On the face of it, with all due respect--we must be first greatful for this great Moodle Opensource opportunity; we all have options, for example, Blackboard-- the real restrictive proprietory alternative.

We're using someone else's code in an Opensource environment (allowing all to become a part of a greater soultion), of course there must be some boundaries!

As a lecturer looking for a product that understands my needs and at the same time flexible-- and I might add, a community of concerned individuals-- Moodle is the place. The real question is how to make better or how I can contribute solutions?

I mean this in the best way, but this argument about protections and partners-- we're using the software free and benefiting from it and still have complaints?

 
Average of ratings: -
Me
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Hi Martin,

Good to hear from you and you're absolutely right to pick me up about the partners not asking for technical support in the forums because, of course, some do and some don't... I didn't word my argument very well clown. What I was meaning was: if those partners that don't get involved in the community didn't have priority support then would they want to post on public forums... assuming that they wouldn't want to be percieved as not knowing what they are talking about?

I was hypothesising, to be honest. But I was basing that on my experience with corporates I've worked for/with in the past not wanting employees to post on public forums. This certainly seems to be the case in the UK (I wonder what it's like elsewhere?) and I have no idea why that should be so. I guess business owners in the UK are very sensitive and/or insecure souls big grin.

Regarding the "issue" or lack of - (and I'm not just saying this to agree with you) I agree with you wide eyes!

To be honest, I can't see an issue either but, again, that's not been my experience with dealing with the larger corporates (rightly or wrongly). That's why I can also see where Richard is coming from with his argument for an alternative partnership programme.

Just reflecting on where this discussion has taken us: for me, I'm just very happy to learn that there is the potential for synergy between the Totara and Moodle developments and that discussions are ongoing between the two camps. As readers will probably have guessed, I did have this fear that Moodle would be going off in one direction and Totara the other but clearly that isn't going to be the case and I appreciate that discussions are ongoing, so good luck with those.

Hope this all helps,

Ian.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Vikram Solia
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Richard,

From the demo, webinar and the other promotional material, it appears to be a very polished system and would be happy to pay USD3000 for something like this smile

I noticed somewhere that the source is to be released in March, however looks like it is not available from the website so far. Any firm dates for releasing code yet?

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Hi Vikram,
Version 1.0 has been available since 1 March. It's just that we haven't quite got there on the automated fulfilment. You can subscribe directly though, or via a partner. We'll make that more obvious on the site but we're very close to a less manual process for distribution.

Thank-you for your interest.

kind regards
Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Vikram Solia
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Richard,

Thanks for your prompt response.

I don't understand how number of users is relevant for plain subscriptions when you are giving away GPL code. How do you enforce this restriction when the person has the source code and is hosting using his own resources?

 

 

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Hi Vikram, As described above the key thing to understand here is that we're not selling code - we're offering a service which includes a support desk, knowledgebase, code updates, continuing innovations etc. The basic subscription does not include access to the support desk.

Also, you will see that the subscriptions are structured in very broad tiers based on # of users. This is not to do with anything approximating per user licensing. It simply reflects that the bigger the installation, the more support is required and more bottlenecks in the code. If you do the numbers you will see these are very wide tiers and extremely cost-effective for whatever size the organisation.

kind regards
Richard 

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Vikram Solia
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Hi Richards,

Thanks for your patience.

I can appreciate that Totara's pricing model needs to be comprehensible to someone used to the licensing model of the proprietary systems...though seems to be a bit confusing to somebody used to open source models and I would add, perhaps difficult to actually enforce unless you host it yourself as well.

Kind Regards

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Hi Vikram,
Sorry but it looks like I need to repeat myself here. As I said the model has absolutely nothing to do with approximating a licensing model. It is simply correlated to likely support requirements for larger installations and we know this from experience. If it approximated user licensing the tiers would be nowhere near as flat. With regards to enforcing it, subscribers automatically send aggregate user # data to validate their support service so this isn't a problem.

regards
Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Dan Trouten
Re: MITMS and Totara
 

Wow! They really are proud of their VPS system!!! You can get an 80GB VPS with CPanel, 99.9% uptime and 24/7 service for $1250/yr USD at a place like HostGator....

 
Average of ratings: -
Mark and Son Brandon
Re: Is MITMS activity / versioning?
 

Linda,

I went to look at the pages and it seems pretty sparse. How active is this community development effort.  the features and concept look quite appealing, but I'm concerned about adopting an isolated effort.  do you know any of the developers and how much actively used this version is now?  thanks for any extra info...

Mark Hilliard

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Chad Parmentier
Re: Is MITMS activity / versioning?
 

From my understanding there is no community development. (however it is good uptodate code from what I see http://demo.totaralms.com This was a concern for us that is why in my previous post I proposed taking the MITMS code and continuing Development. I am going to recommend going with Totara but if their initiative erodes I think we can fund/take over development and release it as an open contib. I don’t see how this will ever be picked up by Core as it really is not useful the majority of the academic community so this may mean the development of Moodle’s first corporate distribution? Hopefully Totara will continue to develop this and get the funding they need.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Vikram Solia
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Linda,

Am curious if MITMS did actually get used in the end?

Regards

 

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Michael Korcuska
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

What the Totara folks are doing (I know and respect a few of them) is completely fine according to the GPL.

It is, however, fairly strange and actually pointless in my opinion. That's because anyone can pay the fee and redistribute the source code free of charge (see below). For that reason it is extremely unusual to charge for a download of a GPL distribution. So if you want to take up a collection or if some customer is feeling community-minded you can set up a dowload page and give it away for free. IMHO they should provide a free distribution and focus on making their money on implementation, support and hosting.

From the GPL FAQ:

If I distribute GPL'd software for a fee, am I required to also make it available to the public without a charge?

No. However, if someone pays your fee and gets a copy, the GPL gives them the freedom to release it to the public, with or without a fee. For example, someone could pay your fee, and then put her copy on a web site for the general public.

Found here.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Michael,
We're not charging for code. Totally agree, that would be pointless! And we're very Moodle community minded ourselves - those who know our track record know this to be the case.

Rather than repeat myself in this thread please read http://www.totaralms.com/about-totara/faqs and also our Moodle Policy

Yes, someone could take a dump of our code and publish it - so what? There's no value in unmaintained code, it soon rots like anything bespoke. The value is in the support etc. as you have pointed out yourself. And our value proposition is extremely strong for this very reason.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Vikram Solia
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Richard,

Any dates for releasing Totara based on Moodle 2.0.x or are you going for Moodle 2.1?

 

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi Vikram,
No firm dates but we will be migrating directly to Moodle 2.1

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Samer Faissal
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Dear All,

Totara Learning Solutions and their partners offer a commercial open source service. To implement the LMS, you have to contact one of their partners. They do not have a public community offering.

You can also read their Moodle Policy.

Samer Faissal,
Human Logic - Totara Partner

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

Hi, I know this is now an old thread, old news really. The last couple of years have gone in a bit of a blur - we've been busy! But I finally made some time to put together a whitepaper around Totara's business model. Please see attachment. 

Also, hopefully our recent work with Open Badges for Moodle 2.5 illustrates to everyone our commitment and participation in the Moodle community.

kind regards
Richard Wyles

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Jez H
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Richard,

That was an interesting read, thanks for posting it. I think your business model was always clear as are your reasons for putting your code behind a paywall.

I have to say I think Remote Learner have handled the same issue in a much smarter and more self assured way. By continuing to allow access to their GIT Repo they give a nod back to the OS developers whose shoulders they stood on.

They send a clear message that the value they offer goes way beyond their code base and they are not afraid to give others access to that code.

I seriously doubt they would ever lose a paying customer becaue of that Git Repository.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Ian Whisson
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
 

It appears that Totara have now made beta versions of their software availabe to the community: 

Elsewhere in the forum: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=245614&parent=1123308

At TotaraLMS: http://www.totaralms.com/feature-a-benefits/seedlings.  

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Jez H
Re: Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Ahh that old hornets nest, there is another epic thread here where Seedlings is mentioned:

https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=245614

 
Average of ratings: -