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Submission + - Moodle 1.9 Extension Development book Review

melbenson writes: “Moodle 1.9 Extension Development” [https://www.packtpub.com/toc/moodle-19-extension-development-table-contents] by Jonathon Moore and Michael Churchward, published by Packt Publishing [http://www.packtpub.com/], definitely delivers what it says on the book cover — “Customize and extend Moodle by using its robust plugin systems”. This book, intended for users with a solid knowledge of the Moodle software and Moodle technologies, does a great job of opening the doors to creative and useful ideas to take your Moodle site to the next level. The book takes the reader through many examples of customizing and editing the Moodle code in an easy to understand, user-friendly way but also presents the reader with challenging and advanced concepts.

I’ve been working with the free open-source software, Moodle, for the past 3 years as an admin in a school district and consulting, which includes experience with Moodle themes, the Moodle database, admin tasks, user technology support and the end-user interface and functionality. I also have knowledge in CSS, web development and a basic understanding of PHP and server topics. I work with Moodle, read several Moodle-related books, attend Moodle user groups and participate in the online Moodle community but amuch of the information covered and talked about is the basic tech support and technology integration (which is great!) but I’ve been craving to learn more of the “geeky” code topics in Moodle. When I saw the title of the book I was expecting material on coding, development and more technical topics compared to the other Moodle books and that is exactly what I got.

In the beginning of the book the author goes over basic, but powerful tasks like creating and modifying blocks and activities. Later on, the book discusses more advanced topics like integrating Moodle with other systems, pagelib and formslib and web services.
The “Customize and extend Moodle by using its robust plugin systems” phrase from the book cover describes this book very well. It discussed and showed just how much you can customize your Moodle site to fit your needs and create integrations between other systems. this book coverseverything from simply creating a block to integrating the Moodle system with other systems and implementing Single Sign On (SSO). The full table of contents [https://www.packtpub.com/toc/moodle-19-extension-development-table-contents] can be seen on the Packt Publishing website. The book involved heavy discussion about PHP, which was expected since Moodle is written in PHP and the book was basically all about editing the code. I’m a newbie with PHP so some of the examples were over my head but I know I will be able to go back and reference things I didn’t fully understand the first time.

After reading this book I think this book is for any programmers, database and web development people and tech savvy Moodle admins, which is what I was expecting and the reason why I was so excited to read it. I don’t think this book is intended for newbies to Moodle or Moodle technologies (PHP, MySQL, CSS/HTML) however, like myself, you don’t have to be an expert in all of those subjects. I would say this book is for intermediate to advanced Moodle users and programmers.

I trust that the technical information given in this book is accurate as I have read several other books from the Packt Publishing company. The author also does a good job of informing the reader of the date of publication and alerts the reader of possible changes in future versions. Although the topics in the book were technical, the author does a good job of using language that was easy to read and follow along with. The only hardware that readers will need to follow along is a computer using any type of operating system. To follow along with the examples readers will also need an installation of Moodle, which is an open-source free software. Readers can install the free software locally on their computer or install it on a hosting service.

Throughout the entire book there were real-life examples and screenshot images. The only issue with the screenshots was that they were not in color which I think could have enhanced the experience of following along. To go along with the examples there was sample code presented in the book and the full source code is available for download. The example code for download will be great for future reference and it will be useful when I go through the examples again and try to do the tasks myself and experiment on my own.

The book covered and accomplished pretty much what I had expected. I can’t think of anything that I thought the book was missing, besides going into more detail about the specific topics I was personally interested in. However, this book was not written specifically for me! One reason I was so excited to begin reading this book is because I’ve read about a half dozen Moodle books and this one, I felt, was going to contain by far the most “technical” and “back-end” related material compared to all of the others. I have no knowledge of any other Moodle books that are similar in subject to this one, although I have a feeling that more books like this one will be coming.

Overall, I very much enjoyed reading this book and it is personally, my favorite Moodle-related book I have read thus far. Not because I thought it was better written, better quality or contained the most information but because it covered exactly what I was hoping it would. I personally think the best parts about this book were the coding and advanced technical topics covered, the real life examples covered and the provided full source code for download for future experimentation and reference.

“Moodle 1.9 Extension Development” is available for purchase at www.packtpub.com, Barnes & Noble and www.amazon.com.

Melissa Benson


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Moodle 1.9 Extension Development book Review

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