Moodle 2.4 is out – What’s new?

It’s been awhile..a long while! I’ve still been working with Moodle but within the past year we switched from using a paid-for service for our district web site to using Drupal. I’ve been living in the Drupal world and love it. Looking at ways to integrate the two–but that will be another post. I’m very excited to upgrade our 2.3.3 Moodle server to Moodle 2.4 I’m looking over the release notes and I wanted to jot down a few items that caught my eye.

Significant size reduction of navigation widget – this caught my eye. I wonder if this is just for admins or everything? One thing that annoys the heck out of me is that dang navigation block. It’s so long! And honestly there is only 2 links on it that are useful. And unfortunately they are useful so i can’t remove the whole block :/ . I’m crossing my fingers this improvement reduces my annoyance.

Plugin updating from within Moodle – Say whaa? Awesome! Thee may be some set up or something? I’ll have to take a look at it. Only thing to be careful about is if there is customizations within the plugin. It will overwrite them. We have a few modified plugins. But what a great new feature!

Course Format Plugins – “Moodle has always supported pluggable course formats, but now we’ve given developers even more flexibility than before. Course formats can now provide their own settings for courses and sections, and they can also have a lot more control of all the pages in a course.” – This sounds interesting. I really haven’t looked into it. I want to see who sets this up, admins or regular teachers? I need to look more into this but from it’s description it’s exciting.

New Icons – Well about time : ) We have a custom theme with custom icons but I’ll have to see if these core ones are better.

Editor improvement – “New TinyMCE editor settings allowing an admin to customise the toolbar, enable/disable icons such as insert equation and insert emoticon.” Small but nice.

Integration of external calendars – You can now integrate other calendars, like Google Calendar, and have it flow into your Moodle calendar.

Users can set the order and number of courses displayed on their My home page – YESSSS.

Last but certainly not least..

Performance – We concentrated on improving server performance in this release, and there are many small improvements all over the place.  The biggest single change is a new caching system called MUC (the Moodle Universal Cache) which allows Moodle admins to tune their servers with a variety of fast caching solutions.  We’ve only started to see the benefits of this – future Moodle releases should continue to get faster and faster as we apply MUC to more Moodle code.

I truly hope so..

Going through the release notes I’m seeing some little but awesome updates. I would recommend going through them if you’re a Moodle Admin. Happy upgrading!

And now for a totally non-Moodle related video…love this little kid : ) it’s worth a watch!

Second attempt at upgrading 1.9 to 2.0 (Part 2)

..continuing on with my 1.9 to 2.0 journey

As I mentioned in my previous post I was stuck on the “migrating courses” page when I tried upgrading from Moodle 1.9.11 to 2.0.2. The two errors coming up were “Incorrect pool file content” and a number of stack trace errors:


I did some Googling and found 2 tracker items regarding these issues but it didn’t seem like it was during the upgrading process. I did find one discussion thread from a few months back about this issue that helped me troubleshoot.

First, I turned on as much debugging, error reporting or messages I could in the config.php file (not sure if there are other debugging settings to turn on?):


The debugging information didn’t help too much and I couldn’t find any error logs regarding this issue, so I continued to Google and research online. I checked out the /lib/filestorage/filestorage.php file because that was the file where the apparent first two errors were happening. I’m no expert at PHP so I wasn’t quite sure how to change or echo any further information when upgrading to see if it gave me anything more to work with.

I continued to read through the discussion thread I mentioned over and over and thought maybe it was corrupt file, too big of a course or file, etc. I looked in my moodledata folder [see path below] Commentand found a file named with a random string of characters – which was the same string that was displayed in the “incorrect pool file content” error.

moodledata path

There were two other files with a long string of characters that were the same as two long strings of sarah ferguson cthru pokies characters which were being displayed in the debugging information (these strings were successful operations). The two files weren’t big, the problem hash named file however was 500 MB. Was this the problem? I didn’t dare change anything via the moodledata folder.

I figured it was a file issue in one or more courses..I went into phpMyAdmin and started deleting courses, hoping a corrupt file would be removed and fix the issue. I had 3 imported courses from our production server that I restored on the 1.9 testing server to test “real life” courses in the upgrade process.

I deleted two of the four courses, same error.  Went back and deleted another course. Tried again, boom – worked. Since I had all of the debugging and information set to display it displayed all of the database stuff. Clicked Continue. It displayed tons of new settings, clicked Continue – MOODLE 2.0!

Success! Sort of..well..half way…I was able to upgrade from a 1.9.11 to 2.0.2 but I had to delete a few courses first. I believe I had to delete the courses that I imported from our production server (v 1.9.9). Only one course made it through, which I initially created on that install.

roll back

So it looks like the course migration is the issue – something with the files (doesn’t surprise me). I’m going to roll back to 1.9 and import different courses, create a few more courses and try again. I’ll post my results after I try it out again.


Related Posts

Video – Converting Moodle Database from MyISAM to INNODB @mguhlin

In my post yesterday I talked about converting my Moodle database from MyISAM to INNODB before upgrading to Moodle 2.0. I used Miguel Guhlin’s directions, double checked with him via twitter and it was pretty easy. He’s made it even easier by doing the process in a few videos.

Check out his blog post for the videos : )

: )


Another updatePart 2 of my “Second attempt at upgrading from 1.9 to 2.0” is coming soon. I actually had some success and was able to upgrade (with some tweaks).I’ve got the post written up about my experience. I just have to finalize and add some images. It will most likely be up tomorrow.

Second attempt at upgrading 1.9 to 2.0

Today was my second attempt at upgrading Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.0. The first time I ran into a few problems and tried to solve them but then scrapped the install and left it for a few months. This time I upgraded from an install of Moodle 1.9.11 with the Book module installed and a few “real life” courses I imported, to see how they upgraded.

One major thing I did this time that I didn’t do last time was migrate my database from MyISAM to INNODB. I followed the directions from Miguel Guhlin (complete with Databasescreenshots). So, I really don’t know what this does but it sounds like this is necessary? However, I haven’t seen it documented in Moodle Docs (please provide a link if it’s there!).

I do know that in a fresh 2.0 install it does create the database with the “INNODB” type (you can view it in phpmyadmin, it will be in a column when viewing the database). Needless to say, I want to become more comfortable with what this is doing before I do anything on a production server. The good news is that following Miguel’s directions was easy.

Alright, here is the short run down of what I did:

1.) Exported my database via phpMyAdmin (saved on my desktop)Maps

2.) Migrated my database from MyISAM to INNODB – DIRECTIONS

3.) Made a copy of my moodledata folder (used Fire FTP Firefox add-on for steps 2-7)

4.) Copied the config.php file from my current 1.9 install

5.) Renamed my web files Moodle folder to moodle1910.backup

6.) Uploaded a fresh copy of Moodle 2.0 (named the same as the old Moodle folder in step 5)

7.) Copied the config.php file into the new Moodle folder uploaded in step 6

8.) Visited my Moodle install, Clicked on Notifications



Result after clicking on Notifications

1.) Yippee, I’m doing it! -> screenshot 1

2.) Server checks, CHECK! Yay! -> screenshot 2

3.) Plugin Checks, eh..okay..a few non-standard ones but allows me to continue -> screenshot 3 | screenshot 4

4.) Then I ran into a problem [screenshot of where I’m stuck]. A progress bar (at 0%) is displayed for 3-7 seconds and then a red-highlighted box saying “Incorrect pool file content 17f65e7276dd4895c5fc8970e2aa834622a3696b.” is displayed. I’m also given the following error:


And that’s where I stand now. A weird thing happened as I was writing this  blog post – my computer froze up on me and I restarted. When I came back and restored my tabs in Firefox, the screen I was stuck on that had a progress bar at 0% now has a progress bar at 33.3%. Weird?

I haven’t fully looked into what is causing the “incorrect pool file content” or the other errors but here are a few links I quickly found:

I plan to further investigate about the above problem, it seems like there have been some discussion about the errors so I’m confident I’ll figure it out soon.


Minor issue/curious

The other thing I am wondering about is why there are standard (I thought) modules that say they are missing. I know Book is non-standard and I think hotpot, journal, lams and loan calculator are no longer in the core install but what about admin and admin_tree? Is this causing problems?



Like I said, this is my second attempt at upgrading and I haven’t spent too much time preparing or investigating the upgrade progress so I’m not too frustrated yet. I’ve been in the mode of waiting until more and more bugs get fixed and I keep checking the Moodle Tracker.

Line ChartOriginally our district was going to upgrade in the summer after 2.1 is released but we may push that back so we can implement a solid pilot group and create quality training resources.

I was upgrading on a CentOS VPS using cPanel, Fire FTP and phpMyAdmin. I’ll update this post with any updates on the error I received. Any insight into these errors would be greatly appreciated.

Starting the Journey to transition to Moodle 2.0 #moodle2

Yesterday was the first day I actually tried upgrading a Moodle 1.9 version to Moodle 2.0 (I used a testing site – NOT production and it didn’t matter one bit if I lost it all). I was stuck while upgrading with the error:

When I click “continue” it goes back to beginning screen of the upgrade. I tried deleting the table and I got another error from a different table. I then reverted back to my 1.9 version and tried removing the non-core modules and still no luck. Although, I don’t think I have removed all of the modules and data – I’m going to try that next. One other thing was that the php extensionIntl” was not installed. I believe this is optional but I am installing that on the server to test.

I tried this upgrade pretty much on the fly and not very cleanly, however I’m going to still keep it and fiddle with it. I’m also currently installing a fresh Moodle 1.9.10 install to try and upgrade it to 2.0 with no data. I’ll post on this when I complete it.

The point of this stream of thoughts post isn’t really the technical parts of upgrading as I am planning on doing a bunch of testing and waiting quite awhile to begin seriously upgrading for a pilot like state.

The point of this post is to start thinking about transitioning from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.0. Not just the technical parts.

Initial questions

  • When to upgrade?
  • How much training will users need?
  • How do I go about telling users about the change that is coming?
  • How do I make the “change” be a good thing to our users and not another hurdle and “another thing to learn”?
  • All themes are new – should I remove all old ones?
  • Make a pilot group for Moodle 2.0?
  • What about modules users currently use that aren’t in Moodle 2.0?
  • I’m not familiar with the real use of the Gradebook and Quiz – are there big differences?
  • Where to go for help?

Future Action Items on the Roadmap to 2.0

  • Duplicate our current district Moodle site and test the upgrade
    • Test compatibility – themes, courses and modules
  • Talk with tech integration specialists and come up with a plan of action for training, ease of transition
  • Round up some super Moodlers in the district to pilot and get feedback
  • Search like crazy online to see the main upgrade/transition issues

So far…lots of questions. I don’t plan on doing anything serious, like getting pilot users, until Moodle 2.1 gets closer and the backup and restore function works. I hope to have it working next Fall because we’re only in our 2nd year and if we switch over soon there will be less courses and users to transition. However, I don’t want to push it out early because if it’s not ready it will create more problems.

Start of the 2.0 Journey

So, I guess that was my first post of many about the Roadmap to Transitioning into Moodle 2.0. I’ll be posting more of my journey as I troubleshoot and brainstorm the best way to have a smooth transition.

EDIT: After writing this original draft I came across some php 5.3 issues when dealing with the php extension Intl. I believe these issues deal with Moodle 1.9. I am in the process of figuring out with my host what needs to be done. Will update later.

Moodle Link Love

Moodle Announcements


What’s new in Moodle 2.0?

I recently downloaded and installed Moodle 2.0 dev. I have not investigated every new feature and update but my early exploring left me quite happy. Moodle 2.0, in my opinion, is going to be much improved from earlier version upgrades.

A few things that I like in my early exploration:

  • HTML editor 2.0 – The look of the editor is more pleasing to the eye. A few features are added like tables, layers, handling of Word documents, better for HTML code editing, better options for inserting images and media. Read more about the HTML editor 2.0.
  • File API – The look and structure of file management  feels a lot different. A good different. When uploading an image (within the Editor) it opens a new window which a much better interface. I think users will fidn this new look easier to follow and understand. I had to add the “local files” repository and “show” it to be able to upload files within ‘site files’ then use it when in the Editor. I also had to “show” the “upload a file” to allow users to upload a file within the Editor. Looking at the documentation for the new File API there are a lot of improvements with file management and linking to files with the HTML editor. They may be still working out the kinks but I think this is going to be one of my new favorite upgrades.
  • Repository API – Just looking at the repository possibilites excites me because it includes interaction with other software and sites like: YouTube, Alfresco, Flickr,, Picasa and more. Read more on the Repository API coming in Moodle 2.0.
  • Portfolio API – Moodle 2.0 is going to be able to integrate with Mahara. It looks like it can also integrate with Picasa, Google Docs, Flickr, or you are able to do a file download (not sure how this works?). I have not worked with portfolios but I would think this will be a great resource for students. Read more on the Portfolio API documentation.

Those were the main areas of improvement I saw and that I think will be some of the best improvements. I only spent a day looking through Moodle 2.0 dev and it’s hard to know all the ins and outs of the new features and the new processes without having a real Moodle site to work on.

I have been expirementing on my Moodle Development site. I will continue to explore Moodle 2.0 Dev and review the above improvements (and more) on another blog post. This was just a rough review of my initial thoughts.

Check out the Moodle Docs Roadmap to Moodle 2.0 for further Moodle 2.0 information and updates.

A new look for Moodle

Check out Moodle’s new look. Read what Martin Dougiamas wrote about the new look. Moodle 2.0 is set to come out sometime after the new year. Read about the upcoming features in Moodle 2.0

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