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“It’s very inspiring to see what’s happening in open source communities”

Bas Brands and E-Learn Team
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Arnhem, The Netherlands

Bas Brands is a web developer and open source expert, and has been a great freelance developer for the Moodle community. We spoke with him in Holland and he explained for us his expectations and views about the platform.

What has your experience of Moodle been like?

Moodle has been a great learning experience. The Moodle community is quite unique, and that might be because learning and teaching are the main reason for using Moodle. Once you learn your way around it, it becomes more and more fun, and adding your own plugins and tools is great, especially when you notice people appreciating your work and additions.

What is, and how did you contribute to the design?

The Don’t Memorise initiative was started to help students in India learn math using videos, lessons and quizzes. It is a project that has been in development for almost two years, and it is still being improved and updated. The main design goal was to keep it as open and inviting as we could.

Are the Moodle’s initiatives you have worked on available for open use by the community?

Most of my work with Moodle comes from projects paid for by clients, and for each project deciding if the outcome or code can be shared depends on a number of factors. Is it generic enough, and can it benefit other users? Is the client willing to share this with the world? Then there are other projects like the Bootstrap theme that has a version that was added to the Moodle standard codebase and is used as the basis for most of the other Moodle themes.

What would you add to Moodle to improve the experience?

I don’t think Moodle needs a lot of new features to improve the User Experience. I would prefer removing or disabling a lot of the standard features for new Moodle installations like Moodle messaging, blogging or notes. The next step would be to really focus on basic Moodle, research what can be improved, share this research with the community and suggest improvements. Moodle HQ has already started doing User Experience research and creating Mockups for new user interfaces.

How do you think your knowledge can benefit the community?

I think my specialty is being able to create for form and function. I try to learn from other User Experience designers in Open Source projects like Drupal, Diaspora and WordPress. I think sharing what I have done and learned could help other community users when working with and creating for Moodle.

What would happen if, at a hypothetical point in time, Moodle or other open source tools became licensed software?

I think it can’t really become licensed software. Moodle HQ has built its business model around open source and all Moodle code is licensed to be GPL code. So even if Moodle HQ stopped doing community development, the Moodle community could organize and continue an open source version of Moodle and rebrand it. That happened to the popular Joomla CMS (former Mambo CMS) around 2005, and it can happen to Moodle too.

*Bas Brands – Open Source Web Developer and Consultant, Independent

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