I am a software developer at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (http://www.eciad.ca) in Vancouver BC, and we are looking to start using moodle for our online courses in the near future. The question I am debating is if we should wait for 1.5 to come out, or just roll with the current release. We would be making some pretty extensive graphical and layout changes to moodle, and it seems like 1.5 and it's new CSS/theme features would make this easier, but stability is important too! What do you developers anticipate an upgrade from 1.4.3 to 1.5 would be like? Lastly, what other additional features are likely to make it into the final 1.5 release that could help sway this decision either way?
Thanks for any advice, and thank you all for making such a great open source project!
My (admittedly a trifle biased) opinion is that you should go with the 1.5 release. The things taken into account for this are:
- 1.5 will be out in about a month most likely.
- Those pretty extensive gfx changes you talk about will be infinitely easier to do with the new refactored themes and CSS of 1.5. It isn't just a question of how easy it will be to do the same things in 1.4 and 1.5; more than that, 1.5 provides many hooks you can use to enrich the layout with CSS (and of course it actually uses only a small fraction of them, since using all your toys at the same time invariably leads to tasteless results).
- Other major features that you might find useful is the new instant messaging system and the greater freedom offered to block developers with the new "Blocks 2" core. You will find it a lot easier to add custom stuff to your installation through blocks now.
- Do not underestimate the importance of the classic "many improvements and bug fixes" line that's in the changelogs. There are actually lots and lots of them, making yours and your clients' Moodle experience easier and more intuitive.
- Lastly, I don't see any stability problems with 1.5 right now, and usually the vast majority of tricky problems (I mean problems that are caught and fixed during development... stable releases are stable, at least that's what they told me to say ) have to do with upgrading. Making sure that a fresh installation (such as yours would be) works is Development 101.
However, I 'd like to mention that the Moodle upgrade system is one of the best that I have seen and that, during my stint at the Greek School Network, I was almost tempted to upgrade without taking backups first. It simply inspired that much confidence. And it's easy to do as well, so if you go that route do not expect any real issues.
Thanks for the quick and helpfull response! I set up a quick install of 1.4.3, but I think I will use your advice and take a look at 1.5... The new features do indeed sound nice!
to Jon's answer I want to
add the experiences I made while working with Moodle 1.4.x. I've very
soon started to patch the php files to be able to change the Moodle
design as needed. If you have got the time to wait for Moodle 1.5 to be
released until you start your courses it will be worth. You could start
making your first experiences with Moodle 1.5 now - keeping in mind,
that the CSS files and the hooks in the php files are not yet ready
developed and will be extended and could even be changed until the
Moodle 1.5 will have distinct CSS
and XHTML changes. I'm quite confident that Moodle will offer many
opportunities for web and interface designers to create phenomenal
learning sites - at least I hope so and will do my best to get there
The Emily Carr website looks very interesting and I am looking foreward to see your results. If you have questions or have suggestions or even get into
trouble with your Moodle design I will be glad to help if I can.
For production site you need an stable release.
But you mention you are going to make a heavy customization. That will take time. Nothing prevents you from installing 1.5dev in a "testing" server, and start working in the customization. Create your theme and all your work will be readily to integrate smoothly with all future releases.
When 1.5 will be stable in 1-2 weeks, you can "upgrade" the system. Even if you do change core code files, it will be easy to merge changes if they are well documented. Stable or not, you'll need some weeks to test your own changes.
- Enrique -
I grabbed the latest 1.5dev version, and even with the few surprises a development version always holds in store, things seem quite easy to work with and I've got the beginnings of a rudimentary layout coming together... Looking froward to the stable release of 1.5 and great job to all of you involved!