I don't know if anyone mentioned about this idea before but I was discussing the "Open Source Maturity Model" (http://www.navicasoft.com/pages/osmm.htm) with a professor yesterday and came up with this idea.
As some of you probably know, proprietary software products such as Blackboard, WebCT, (or even Windows Vista) all provide different product lines for their products. For moodle, given the fact that:
(1) Some people might consider the ROLES and PERMISSIONS implementation in 1.8 is a overkill (for some institutions) and introduced unnecessary complexity to the 1.8 code base.
(2) Often times Moodle core team is looking forward to fix bugs in newest version (e.g. HEAD or 1.9, while it is still not yet stable enough for larger production site). An example of this being the major rewrite of roles internals in 1.9 (based on catalyst's performance patches), while there is no plan (or not possible) to backport the changes to 1.8. (see http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=82395 and http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=79455 discussion).
(3) There are still a lot of hidden/discovered unresolved major bugs that require a lot of attention for earlier versions of Moodle.
I wonder if Moodle should consider branching out a "lite" version product line (maybe based on the current 1.6 code base) which will NOT include the ROLES / PERMISSIONS feature, but REALLY spend some efforts on fixing all the existing major bugs. I think for end users who have different weight factors to consider which version (or product line) of moodle that would be most suitable for their institution, this might make sense for them. What do folks think?
I guess one of the concern is the funding, whether any institute would have the money to fund such project, and continue to maintain this NO ROLES/PERMISSIONS lite version...
For example: it used to be simpler to specify a forum where students can only reply, but not start new discussions. This can be reintroduced if the Students role is omnipresent.
In any case, the nature of software requirements is such that the "simple" branch will eventually grow to be complex also.
I wonder if Moodle should consider branching out a "lite" version product line.
Let's be realistic. They don't have the ressources to backport those performance and bug fixes to earlier versions, unless they are really critical or security fixes. How are they supposed to handle even a bigger workload?
As a fan of open source I have seen, over the years, the bloating of software with "desirable" features but most of them never used. Sometimes less is more!
For the quiz, as administrator, if you go to Admin -> Modules -> Activities, and click the settings link next to the quiz, you can mark any of the quiz options as 'Advanced', and also set their default values. This lets you simplify the quiz settings from for everyone else.
Just like Moodle, and most software, things start out simple, but over time people want, and demand, more features.
Could Moodle use simplification, probably in some spots, but I think that so many man hours would be spent in a project like this, with relatively little benefit. I think the time would be better spent on bug fixes and general improvements.
Yes I agree with your point that sometimes less is more...
This is a great point!
Importantly I think this isn't the sort of thing which requires a fork in the whole project to accomplish ;). In fact improving and refininng the whole user interface is something i've seen Martin talk about as an aim for after 2.0. And Moodle is certainly making gains on this front slowly and surely at the present time (e.g. improved input validation in formslib, rather than loosing the whole of your form with one incorrect field!).
Coming back to the original point, roles and permissions is a complex beast, and its not the sort of feature you could maintain a 'basic vs. advanced' option, even in a fork it would be a significant amount of work. And while it has introduced additional complexity, i've found that most users get to the point of requiring the flexibility at some point.
Too many options is something that I think the whole open source movement has a problem with in general. When there is the power to have everything, we just add the option for everything.
Hopefully we can make gains with this in Moodle in the future. I do see a lot of things which could be simplified, (e.g. do we really need to have all the options for course setup every time we want to setup a new course with a differnet name).
I guess we should all now start filling improvements in the tracker to acomplish this
One of the reasons why there is an on-going debate comparing the present version of Moodle with earlier versions is the level of complexity. The average teacher is often blinded by the number of options. It doesn't need a separate fork - just some work on the interface. For those developers with appropriate skills this would take a relatively short amount of time and save a lot time for the teachers/lecturers who actually use Moodle.
Another possibility would be to have a specific role along the lines of "Virgin Teacher" (if you take my drift!). Everything is nice and simple for them and, when they get more experienced, more options are opened up.
I think I had better stop now before the analogy gets pushed too far.....
I should not be in the "developer forum" at all, but I think the idea of a Moodle lite would serve a small minority who use it for a single class or two on a cheap website host. I've been using 1.5.4+ for nearly a year and a half, and it provides all the tools I require, especially the resources, forums, quizzes, and assignments.
One summer I upgraded to 1.6 to give it a try, and although I have no statistical evidence whatsoever, I believe it required more resources to run the program. At least it seemed to run slower on my website host. (Could that be true?)
Of course, I can understand how a school with technical support and their own servers would want the "latest," but I am not there yet.
Thanks for Moodle!
I should not be in the "developer forum" at all ...
Yes you should! One of the strengths of the Moodle project is that developers frequently interact with teachers in these forums, and so hear the experiences of the people actually using this software for teaching.