Comparisons and advocacy

Multiple "portals" or "sites"

 
 
Picture of Karla Russell
Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
I'd like to be able to create multiple views of our course catalog. One view might show all of the courses, another view might show only a subset of the courses. Each view would use different themes. A user that has login privileges on one view, might not have it on another. From the documentation: "Themes may be configured at site level, course level and/or user level"

So I guess I'm asking if I can have multiple "sites" with themes, courses and user privileges determined by site.

This is available with the majority of commercial LMSs. Would love it to be possible with moodle as well.

Thanks in advance.

Karla
 
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Picture of Michael Penney
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
Group Developers
This is available with the majority of commercial LMSs.

Hi Karla, I'm curious, which commercial LMSs enable this?

Moodle enables one to create roles, which can have different levels of permission on the home page or category pages, and you can set themes for users and for course sites by default.

For a Portal like configuration based on URL or other parameters, this can certainly be done with some custom work, but it isn't standard.
 
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Picture of Karla Russell
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
Virtually every commercial LMS I've looked at make this claim. Here's a direct quote from Meridian literature: "Controlled portals or domains support an unlimited number of user populations internal or external to the organization."

I would dearly love to go open-source, but this is a stopper for us. I'm concerned that the custom work required to make this work with moodle would make upgrading to new moodle releases a real nightmare. sad

Thanks,
Karla



 
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Picture of Michael Penney
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
Group Developers

Hi Karla, the Meridian marketing language is a bit opaque to me, what is the use case?

  1. Users login and see the sites and/or content that is available to them based on their login?
  2. Or they login to something.yoursite.com and see a custom Moodle site for that subset of yoursite.com?

We provide both regularly at Moodlerooms, for instance, it's mainly server and database configuration that is required & we have a number of clients that use one (or both) of the use cases above.

 
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Picture of Matt Gibson relaxing in the Alps
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
If you mean that a single moodle code folder can be used to run several sites, as can be done with drupal, its definitely non-standard, but there was some discussion of it a while back and I think it has been done. You would need to customise config.php with some kind of conditional statement.
 
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Picture of Ger Tielemans
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
What you wish has an easy part and a difficult part.
  • First the difficult part: you have to design on paper a code-system that reflects - for each course - all your catalogue view wishes and then a rule-set to transcribe this in the course-id field of Moodle.*)
  • The easy part: hire a programmer (a Moodle partner?) with the money you did not loose by "leasing" **) a commercial product and ask him to make filtered versions of the /course/category.php script, filtering based on the course-id. (and create links to these category-version-pages)


*) Workaround: ask the programmer to create a dynamic table on the settings-page for a course where you can choose the (sub)views for each course


**) You can not buy a commercial product, you have to pay them every year again. (= lease)
 
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Dr. Rob Higgins
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
Greetings folks,

The virtual hosting / multiple domains / multiple moodle sites on one server is a primary concern of mine as well. As I've worked in programming, implementing and administering everything from Jetspeed CMS, through Zope, through Drupal, as well as having used Blackboard and WebCT for course delivery, and hey, going way back, implementing my own set of email, chats, and messaging services for online learning before their was a WebCT, in fact, before there was a WWW smile ... ah ok, back to the issue ...

Well, the issue is: virtual hosting means that, on one server, I can have www.myschoolA.com, www.myschoolB.com, and www.myschoolC.com, just as I can have www.mywebportalA.com, www.mywebportalB.com, and www.mywebportalC.com with out having 3 copies of the Apache code, or three copies of the PHP code and libraries. I only want one copy of the Moodle code on my server, but I want it to run many very independent educational websites. At the system admin level in Content Management, and in a variety of other web applications, this is becoming the standard.

So, as much as I appreciate the orientation, development model, and philosophy of Moodle generally I've avoided Moodle software for some time because of this. I have 5 projects presently requiring separate educational websites with Moodle, I really want the virtual hosting to work, with one Moodle code base on my server (as it used to do with Drupal). ... oh, ya, I've definitely jumped on board, Moodle is running on my server ...

So, I've been searching for anything here that gives specifics. Please provide some further links if you have them ... I'll join with anyone else seeking to get this feature working seamlessly.

Thanks.

---rob---





 
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Picture of Ger Tielemans
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
I consider this as a strange answer from an expert:
  • we run many copies of Moodle on the same Apache server and combine this with routing, based on different domain.names and/or domain-prefixes
  • the last thing we care about is installing the code for each separate moodle: it would cost us MUCH MORE money and time to figure out how to implement 5 websites by using only one set of moodle code then the money we spent on "extra" harddisk room for our 5 sets of code.
    (It is rather static, so we only make backups from this piece of code when we change one of the 5 subsets..)
  • Inside each implementation you can tune the website for that school or that client only, and Moodle offers a lot of tuning for that
my 5 cents, so please teach me where I am wrong.
 
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Picture of Jeffrey Peninger
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 

I think it is strange to find that answer strange.  With the price of hard drive real estate at about US$319 per Terrabyte, and the slowest part of a Moodle system actually on the database end of the coding, not with the webserver, quibbling over less than a 100  Mb (US$.003) of hard drive space per site seems a backward with what is actually going on.

Just my 3 cents, and I have been wrong before... <smile>

 
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Picture of Ger Tielemans
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
  • If you have staff, already paid for their job and they have to do this extra work on top of their job, you can say that you save money.
  • If you calculate the extra work in money, then you will loose money

my 2 cents, I am not an expert, just common sense, so for 1 cent you can have the last word.. smile

 
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Dr. Rob Higgins
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
Interesting, ... not sure who or what is the expert, however.

My interim solution was to start implementing multiple copies of Moodle. Not sure of the long-term implications of this, however, as I intend to host over 20 "schools".

The problem is not disk space (and so far I haven't looked at memory usage by multiple copies) ...

I would imagine, the problem may be in upgrading, and adding modules, etc.

In Drupal, for example, (and hey, no harm in learning from others eh?), one code set has subdirectory called "sites" for as many virtually hosted sites as you wish. Then, for themes and modules and site file areas, there is a place to implement them for "all" sites, as well as in the subdirectories for particular sites, you can implement themes, modules, and file areas for each site separately if you wish.

Basically, regardless of how big and cheap hardware gets, there are good arguments for code efficiency and reduced duplication (kinda like part of the reason for object oriented coding, I think smile

However, I've had a few days to explore Moodle code organization as it presently stands and I see that it's going to be a big job to alter it in the ways that I was originally thinking. In fact, thinking about this systems aspect (when hardware is so cheap presently) has been swapped out of mind while I just get on with the production systems using completely separate copies of Moodle ... but I intend to explore this further.

Thanks for your comments.

---rob---






 
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Picture of karim faid
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 

One possible solution exits in version 1.9. You can create multiple categories, assign them a specific theme and make them hidden. You can then modify the front page setting to show courses in hidden categories.

When you add courses to these hidden categories, and assign users to these courses, these users will be able to see only the courses they are subscribed to. So if the themes you have assigned to each category represent a website, each user will have some customized feel and look...

Granted you will be using only one URL with such a process, and apparently you cannot display the sub-categories without modifying some code (at least I have not been able yet!)

Karim

 
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Rosario playing soccer
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 

Hi to everybody,

i posted something similar last may: http://moodle.org/mod/forum/search.php?search=rosario+navigation&id=5

I agree with Rob, even if disk-space and disk-price is out of concern. I just was reluctant to install roughly 11 copies for our different Universities forming one big School. The reason is obvious, for programmers, no code repetitions - if possible - because you have to maintain it, upgrade it, etc.

But have a look at our main-page on: https://moodle.fhnw.ch and you will understand what Rob and the others are aiming at:

a) a hierarchical navigation through what moodle calls CATEGORIES. A simple folder structure with opening and closing folders would already help a lot to structure this main page. I know there are some moodle modules already  capable of that. (Course Menu, Simple Navigation, YUI course menu) One I am testing is: http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?d=25&rid=190 from Kevin Treussier. And, of course, I could be my own programmer to save some money, but on the other hand, a lot of effort has to be put in to start coding a moodle module. But I did start with a very simple php program to show my idea: https://moodle.fhnw.ch/fhnwTests/Samples/fhnwHochschulen02.php

This is static and does not load the categories from moodle's mysql database. Using the database, would involve login, studying the database structure(s) to find all categories and subcategories, etc. which would make the whole thing dynamic. I wonder actually where I could find the explanation of such internals, but had not time to read the according chapters of "how to program moodle modules".

For the time beeing, I would be happy without having to program a whole module or using one of the mentioned ones. As shown in my static sample, I would simply use an own main page written in php instead of the main page of moodle, do a search over all categories and display them with hierarchical folders for every CATEGORY. Clicking the category itself or a course would bring the correct moodle-link and login-page if necessary. And such a solution would not endanger moodle internals: no problems for future upgrades. But the question is again: how deep, if the list grows as deep as having bachelor and master studies and courses for every semester and subject. There would be a limit again.

b) another approach would be not at the navigations level, but at the level already mentioned, with multiple "virtual" moodle-hosts. This would help split down everything, not only the navigation or let's say the GUI. With one virtual server per University - or splitting down even more - for each of our institutes or sections, we could have really different Admins, different themes, different settings, or short different moodle-servers, without having to trouble with multiple code-base-copies, upgrades and the like. Of course, moodle started for ONE little school, and now moodle has become most popular. So as admins and as users, we ask for hierarchical navigation - instead of flat category-lists - and for multiple Servers. And if it is not part of Version 1.9, we will be patient and work around the displaying of too long category-lists. But the whole look and feel of moodle would gain a lot, if segmentation for navigation and/or for multiple "virtual" servers became possible. As you say in french: "L'appétit vient en mangeant". And moodle is already a GREAT thing, and users are using it and hence are asking for more and more features. Finally it's what keeps development going on...

Please feel free to inform us about solutions and features planned for the next versions of moodle, so that we can take the appropriate "workaround" actions.

Thanks a lot, Rosario

 
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Rosario playing soccer
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
I programmed/adpted two blocks for better navigation. You will find them here:

http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=67494 (myCourses)

http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=103703 (siteNavigation)

Rosario
 
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Picture of Jamie Smith
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
I've been working with a customized version of Moodle 1.9.xx with support for multiple installations accessed from one "portal" (on the same URL). We use these installations for our individual training organizations as they have separate training departments and subsequent needs for training. Our system also utilizes an external database that allows central storage and management of user accounts and permanent training records.
The product has been very successful in its implementation in meeting our corporate needs. Full explanation of its functionality wouldn't be appropriate here. However, I'd be glad to pass on more information if requested.
I have recently begun work on the latest version of this work in preparation for release as an open-source "work" based on Moodle. Target release is May of this year. More posting will be to come.
 
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Picture of Stephane stephane
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 

Hello Jamie,

Any news on this multiple installion plugin ? i'm very interested !

thanks in advance,

Stephane. 

 
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Picture of Jonathan Cartland
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
Second that question-- any news? even buggy code would be interesting.
 
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Picture of Andi Becker
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
Well it is already long time ago but as we were able to setup Mahara in a multidomain setting it now would be great to do the same with moodle and combine both. Does anybody has an update on this issue?

How can we share courses on a multi domain moodle?

One database
One place where courses get stored
Many schools sharing these courses under their OWN domain!

i.e.
Course Introduction into Moodle would be stored ONE time in the database but you would be able to access it from

http://mymoodleschoolA.com
http://mymoodleschoolB.com
....

Is this possible and if yes how?

Thanks
Andi
 
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Picture of David Smyth
Re: Multiple "portals" or "sites"
 
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