A Brief History Of Making Moodle Themes Extra Friendly. MoodleMoot US 2017-Miami

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Todd Mathews customizes existing Moodle themes for a living. It is a bit of thankless job, but he is used to it, as he’s been doing it since Moodle 1.9 back in 2009. This also makes him somewhat of a Moodle themes historian. In fact, one of his professional milestones coincided with the release of Moodle 2.0, which included the popular web design framework Bootstrap built by the Twitter team, estimated to power 1% of the internet.

The inclusion also sparked the business of theme development. The nature of openness did not discourage users from bringing new features and ideas into Moodle. Maybe the opposite. Designers built upon existing ideas, which everyone could then adopt to make their customers happy. As a result, Moodle expanded, the number of customers grew, and all the freely sharing Moodlers were better off. A crucial element for the robust expansion of a theme development practice was the community, often in the form of highly skilled and helpful users on the Moodle Forum.

Today, the landscape is more saturated, and certain barriers seem to limit the number of users, customers, and professionals who stand to benefit from active theme development. Moodle Partners often offer support for their own themes. In a few cases, the Partner might also offer support for exceptional themes, as it is the case of Mathews with “Fordson.” But he and his theme actively encourage their customers to keep the default “Boost.” Admittedly, “Boost” itself is a flexible theme that gives users plenty of customization control, including the use of CSS files.

The next frontier has been upon us for a while: mobile. Theme responsiveness is now a must-have rather than a differentiating factor, as might soon be mobile-first theme development. But Mathews does not expect his workflow to change meaningfully. It features color pickers, Mozilla’s 3D-tilt, guidelines compliance tools, and even web development reference W3Schools, which he still checks on a daily basis.

Watch the talk “Customizations for a Responsive and User-Friendly Moodle Theme” and some live demos at youtube.com/moodle.


eThink LogoThis Moodle Practice related post is made possible by: eThink Education, a Certified Moodle Partner that provides a fully-managed Moodle experience including implementation, integration, cloud-hosting, and management services. To learn more about eThink, click here.