Over the last month Tim Hunt and I, together with Matti Pauna from the University of Helsinki, have been working on STACK 3 and I'm posting to provide some details of what we are doing, and to reassure you that work is going on.
We have decided to create a "STACK question type" for the Moodle quiz and not to maintain a separate "STACK server" connected to Moodle via the Opaque (SOAP) webservice protocol. We have now reached a point where it is clear that this is the right approach, and are confident that ultimately we will be able to make this work. The major disadvantage of this approach, from my point of view, is that STACK loses some identity, and flexibility, as a separate project. It will be harder to include STACK questions in other websites. But, once we are happy STACK is really working well I'm confident we could separate STACK from Moodle should demand make this worthwhile.
One reason for doing this is my belief that it gives us the shortest path to the point where other people in the open source community will be able to contribute to the development of STACK.
This significantly simplifies the installation process, reduces dependencies and the number of separate components. It will also make it much easier for teachers to include questions within quizzes, and easier for us to ensure options set in quizzes are respected by questions. These are all major advantages of our decision.
We have just reached a point where we are able to "round trip" a demonstration question as a teacher testing, and this is a key proof of concept, so I'm confident this will work. We still have a lot of work to do. Matti has written a skeleton import mechanism to ensure old STACK 2 questions can be imported, which is clearly a key requirement. We hope parallel work to Tim and I will produce an authoring interface through the Moodle quiz (or I'll eventually write this myself).
We are taking the shortest path to "getting STACK basically working". We have no intention of introducing significant new features. We are also not, in the first pass, implementing all the existing features. For example, I've put the matrix element input type to one side for now. We will continue to work on this and in about a month I'll have a much better estimate of when we will be ready.
At that point I'd very much appreciate recruiting some "testers" and "early adopters" who will work hard to break, and hopefully help fix, the new code. I will also have a list of outstanding jobs, and would be very grateful for help from people willing to contribute to the development. This will ensure the majority of STACK 2 features, and hence existing questions, can be uploaded and used as before.
I'm very pleased and excited about how things have progressed in the last month, and will certainly keep this forum updated.
School of Mathematics
University of Birmingham