Questionnaire (plugin)

How "risky" is this plug-in?

 
Picture of Cris Fuhrman
How "risky" is this plug-in?
 

I've asked my Moodle admin to install this plug-in, but he's worried that because it's a third-party plug-in, there's a risk and that it should be "tested" by another technician to make sure it's not going to cause problems in our production site. While I admire that caution, it will take some time before we can deploy the plug-in because of the bureaucracy involved. 

How risky is it to install Questionnaire on a production site?

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
Core developersDocumentation writersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developers

This a good question to ask, and one I would hope any admin asks before installing a new plugin.

One can actually break it down a bit more:

  • Does this code introduce any security holes?
  • Does this code introduce any performance issues?
  • Does this code have any accessibility issues?
  • Will an upgrade to this plugin exist when I want to upgrade to the next version of Moodle?

Working those out yourself is hard, so there is an alternate proxy set of questions you can ask that are much easier to answer:

  1. Has anyone else reviewed this plugin and published the results?
  2. Who are the people who created this plugin?
  3. How many other Moodle sites are known to run it?
  4. For recent Moodle versions, has a compatible version of this plugin been made available quickly?

For the questionnaire module, those questions have good answers:

  1. Yes. E.g. it is on the list of plugins that Moodlerooms are happy to install for their clients: https://en-us.help.blackboard.com/Moodlerooms/Administrator/010_Get_Started/About_Moodlerooms/Plugin_Matrix#community
  2. It is maintained by Remote Learner, who were a Moodle Partner Company for many years, so know what they are doing with Moodle code: https://github.com/remotelearner/moodle-mod_questionnaire.
  3. 8000+ other sites are using it https://moodle.org/plugins/stats.php?plugin=mod_questionnaire. (That includes us at the Open University. We've been running it happily for years.)
  4. Yes. Scroll down https://moodle.org/plugins/mod_questionnaire to the Awards, and note that 3.0- and 3.1-compatible versions were ready early. Also note the automated testing support, which is another indicator of quality.

So, questionnaire is a very safe and widely used plugin to install.

 
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Picture of David Mudrák
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
Core developersDocumentation writersMoodle HQParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersPlugins guardiansTestersTranslators

Thanks Tim, this is a great summary!

I would only add that one can (and should) spend a while by exploring the plugin's bugs tracker. Not primarily to see what problems were there in the past with the plugin. But more importantly how the reported issues were addressed. Do they have a public issues tracker? Do maintainers communicate clearly about the fix? Do they keep transparent record of the fixed issues? How do they respond to bug reports or feature suggestions?

In my experience, this developer-user human relations are even more important than the technical quality of the code itself.

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersTesters

Excellent advice all round. As a developer I try to remember to solve and close any issues in public (e.g via the GitHub issue tracker) so that other people can see I follow up problems. 

 
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Mary Cooch
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
Documentation writersMoodle Course Creator Certificate holdersMoodle HQParticularly helpful MoodlersTestersTranslators

Feel free to add to the existing documentation on Plugin Review Criteria as well, thanks.

 
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Picture of Cris Fuhrman
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
 

There's a risk we all missed. The one that says that new plug-ins are supposed to be understood and supported by the already strained training staff (that has to update all its training PowerPoints at every new release of Moodle).  

Unfortunately, I think my request is getting nixed for that reason (!). Thanks for the good pointers. 

 
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Picture of Mike Churchward
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersPlugins guardiansTesters

Hi Cris -

(Full disclosure - I'm biased. I maintain questionnaire).

The questions you are asking are the ones my group are trying to deal with as well. We're working on a system to help analyze and score plugins to help Moodle users decide whether they can trust a plugin to be used on their site.

Per Tim's advice, questionnaire is one that we do recommend as safe to use.

You can see the analysis and scoring we have done for many plugins on our Moodle plugins review pages. We are constantly adding more and updating information. This is a work in progress and we welcome any input and help.

We are also working on summarizing this information in a more readable form on our main site. Again, any feedback and/or help you can offer would be appreciated.

You can see the questionnaire results here and here.

mike

 
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Picture of Melanie Scott
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
Particularly helpful Moodlers

Disclaimer: My post will not be as technical and brilliant as Tim's.  He's the rock star.  I'm the groupie.  Okay, maybe not a groupie...a fan, anyway.

The Questionnaire plugin is terrific.  I used it on a production site for many years with no problems whatsoever...and that was 1.9.  So...wow! 

I'd still use it now but Feedback does most of the awesome stuff Questionnaire does and is core.  The less we have to use third party plugs, the happier my back-end counterpart is (we have 2 admins...back-end and front-end...and I use 4 or 5 other plugins, so losing this one was good), just means there is less to do when we do upgrades and maintenance. 

I do miss some of the questionnaire features but feedback has some nice ones questionnaire did not (like optional questions that are actually optional).


 
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Picture of Mike Churchward
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersPlugins guardiansTesters

Hi Melanie -

One of the things on my long list of things to do is to figure out a way to merge questionnaire into feedback so there is one survey system. So any information on features that are needed helps.

You said feedback has, "optional questions that are actually optional". What do you mean by that?

mike

 
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Picture of Melanie Scott
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hey Mike!

I'd heard the rumors about merging the two...

As I recall, when I tried to make questions in questionnaire optional, it still displayed them.  I couldn't find a way to actually make them not show for the people who didn't need to answer them.  And I couldn't get people to read directions and leave blank the ones that didn't apply to them. 

Keep in mind, this was the 1.9 version...you probably made great strides after that. And maybe you could do that in old questionnaire but I couldn't figure it out.  I'm not a techie person and only ended up doing what I do by accident (gremlins, to be precise--at least that's IT's story).  In feedback, you can say this question should only display if that question was answered this way...so if someone said yes, I had technical difficulties, they could see a question that asked what were those difficulties? but the people who said no, I didn't have difficulties do not see the second question (if you set it up right).

One of the questionnaire things I loved that isn't possible in feedback is the ability to ask a series of rating questions in one question...you know, please rate the following on a scale of 1-5....I like cookies, I like cake, I like long walks in the rain...etc and have each option display in one question.  In feedback, you have to build each one separate.  sad.

 
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Picture of Mike Churchward
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersPlugins guardiansTesters

Thanks for the info. I think the terminology is bit different.

An optional question is one that is not required. It will still display, but a user can choose not to answer it.

I believe what you are referring to is what questionnaire refers to as branching questions. You can add questions that are dependent on the answers of another question. So if you answer a question one way, you will see a question you would not see if you answered it another way.

If you have any other features that are different, please let me know.

mike

 
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Picture of Cris Fuhrman
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
 

The killer feature of Questionnaire for me (the reason I requested it from our admins) is Rate questions https://docs.moodle.org/31/en/Editing_Questionnaire_questions#Rate_.28scale_1..5.29 particularly with the "no duplicate choices" option.

This type of question would be used in the context of students signing up (by order of top 5 choices) to a list of proposed projects for a senior capstone project. It can be done with feedback using 5 multiple-choice questions. However, it's problematic because the list of projects has to be copied to each question (5 times) and nothing can stop a student from marking the same project in more than one of the 5 choices.

Until the plug-in is added to our Moodle site, I'll be able to do accomplish Rate questions using a Google Form and a Grid question, with the advanced setting of "Limit to one response per column" - (my school has Google Apps for Education). The API to create Google forms is pretty powerful, so with simple scripts it takes all the clicking out of making the form. 

 
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Picture of Melanie Scott
Re: How "risky" is this plug-in?
Particularly helpful Moodlers

Yes!  This is the other Questionnaire feature we really liked.  Feedback can't do it...


And we also liked the ability to create an "other" option where the participant could put in their own text.  That was cool.

 
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