>Ok, it’s been a long time since my last post here but I would like to share my thoughts throughout this year on our current version of Moodle, version 2.5.

Version 2.5 has for us, been very stable. Don’t get me wrong in any way, shape or form, read through my previous posts and you’ll soon see what I mean about little niggling problems, most of which have been resolved over the last 10/11 months or so.

The best thing by far in 2.5 has been the stability. Yes, it’s been a little slow at times but despite this, I’ve been very pleased with everything compared to 2.3 which for me, wasn’t ready for the masses.

2.5 gave both the staff here and myself the confidence to use the Moodle as it should be used as there were very few things going wrong that would cause any major problems. I think that staff especially felt more comfortable as the interface had been improved in several areas around Moodle due to the consistency drive that had been pushed through for familiarity. If the users can’t use the system, the system isn’t fit for purpose.

There are still some bits that need improvement that were great back in 1.9.x such as blogs and file management. Both of these continue to be massive inconveniences for me as I can’t actually see what’s going on with files and the ability to look after your own blog within Moodle doesn’t really exist anymore.

Carrying on from the file management, my biggest challenge towards the end of last year was server space. I’m not sure if this was to do with the age in which we now live whereby files everywhere have ballooned in size and so I now have to have the resources necessary to look after all of these colossal files. However, I’d really love to see some way of a centralised, or even a course layer file management system so that I can see where all of the space is being used at any one time. There are a few developers who’ve done this but I’m yet to test any of them. Sadly it seems though that neither of these features have made it into 2.6 or 2.7, but there’s still hope for 2.8!

Anyway, back to the upgrade question at hand. 2.6 or 2.7? Well, after testing everything locally on my machine, they both offer the near same performance and user interface. 2.7 has a few nice touches here and there but 2.6 looks to be ‘more of the same’ for me. 2.7 failed to work with older IE and Firefox browsers during my testing which is a minor problem, but certainly not a deal breaker. 2.6 improvements seem to be solid and most importantly, mature. Remember how I said that 2.3 wasn’t ready? I just get that impression slightly with 2.7 as they’ve decided to play the long game slightly it seems so I’m really hoping that next year I can skip this all┬átogether. 2.7 has opted to use a new WYSIWYG interface for HTML editing (which can be disabled in favour of Tiny MCE). 2.7 also requires my to upgrade my MySQL database by a minor point release, but again, that’s not a deal breaker.

One massive plus point for Moodle 2.7 solves one of my biggest gripes since Moodle adopted the whole rapid release cycle development that they’ve been pursuing since version 2.0 which is that 2.7 now has LTS (or long term support) in the form of 3 years. In theory, RRS completely works and I understand that and the thinking behind it. In reality, it doesn’t. Our first iteration of Moodle 2.x was with version 2.3 which wasn’t the best in my opinion, but soon after I’d installed that, 2.4 was out, quickly followed by 2.5 (which is where we’re at now) and in the year since my last update, there has been two point releases. Users don’t deal with change well and all of the little improvements really throw people and then it causes more of a support headache than anything. Arranging down-time for updates mid-year also doesn’t work for most people. Right now for us in most educational institutions, now is the only time that works when there’s absolutely nobody here to use the resources at hand. Most of the other bits in 2.7 aren’t deal breakers for me so the rest aren’t an issue, however code maturity is.

I’ve actually started the upgrade process from scratch again, going back to 2.6 to see if I get a better ‘vibe’ than 2.7. My only reservation is that I like to stay ahead and stay current but for now, I’m still very, very undecided!