Mr. Moodle, Why Won’t Moodle Bring Cool New Stuff Faster!?

Master Moodle

This question to Mr. Moodle flew in all the way from Brazil [sic]:

“Why moodle is too slow to implement new cool things? Do you plan to change your way of work, rethink some internal strategies to launch more and better tools?”

News and estimations about Moodle HQ employees vary, but the number is often capped at 50, and only a fraction of them are software engineers. Moodle is not a large company, and a part of its development depends on volunteer contributions. This is often the case for open source technologies, especially when the development is not critical or broadly requested. All things equal, Moodle HQ is better off working on security and performance rather than “cool things.”

Compared with similar projects, the rate of development we see in Moodle is actually quite similar. WordPress has minor releases about every two months and major ones every six, just like Moodle. Mozilla releases a new version of Firefox every two months, but not all of them come with meaningful new features.

Ever since Moodle 2.6, the development team has decided to change from a by-feature to a by-schedule calendar, in part to make the upgrade workflow easier for site administrators. This does mean some features might get unnecessarily delayed, but never for more than two months.

In any case, Moodle’s development process is not perfect. Past interventions from the leadership have signaled a series of changes in the way features and development are conceived and coordinated in the future. Specifically, a user-first shift might help prioritize features that would improve user experience. (Hopefully, at no increased security risks.) As a decade and a half-old technology, there is also a legacy reality in Moodle. Updating old and interwoven code into modern guidelines and web services can be as time consuming as building new functionality.

If you are keen on making Moodle’s slow rate of development your cause, you might be in luck, as open source technologies are particularly fertile ground for personal activism. Here are the ways you can get Moodle to a development pace that pleases you:

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