spider blog



SPIDER's blog

Since Monday 03 October 2005 04:30 pm

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Last tweaks of 2009

Friday 18 December 2009 03:12 pm

Final blog posting of the year.. we've had a fairly good year on SPIDER with a load of updates and changes, more record months in October and November, with users making more and more use of the system. Its also been a year in which the university have begun to re-evaluate online learing and as a result the planned 'Unified VLE' system has started to be created. SPIDER is going to be a part of this unified system, so the next year or two while this integration is moved forward are going to be very interesting.

This weeks tweaks

v5 updates on live SPIDER system for MP509/X classes. Updated quiz builder to show preview of scenario question types and allow quizzes to be class level targeted. showTest now stores scenario attempts and personal results page correctly displays scenario attempts/ errors.

bug fix to allow admin level users to view/edit group discussions for groups in their cluster.

admin/edit users
fixed bug that prevented admin level users deleting user accounts

started to update assignment/ content tools to allow content switched to assignment category to be 'checked-out' for class

added banner option to blogs. Note - need to fix rss xsl style sheet as its not correct

updated student record to have 2nd examiner field. Updated reports and report management to allow for examiner limited sections

asset register
fixed bugs that were preventing PAT test, warranty and disposal dates from storing correctly. Updated staff listing to discount inactive and student level accounts

linked in xmas notes

Maths Support Skills Centre
had a meeting with Sue and Sandra from the MSSC about using SPIDER to help them with delivering mathematics support across the univeristy. Planning on investigating the possibility of embedding the open source 'DragMath' java applet into the SPIDER quizzes to allow for question types that provide 'proper' mathematical notation in free form student answers. 





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this weeks tweaks

Friday 11 December 2009 03:51 pm

completed the 'scenario' question type on DEV server.

bug fix to quiz tool marking of drag and drop style questions - scores were being calculated in formal quiz types based on the number of options rather than the number of matches, resulting in a slightly lower mark. Fixed all quizzes and results using the 'remark' option in the quiz-question breakdown statistics tool. This tools also updated to use the HTML based quiz viewer, added links to allow viewing of individual student responses per question in the quiz viewer - shows the quiz question as answered by the student with the correct answer highlighted.

booking tool
booking objects can now be 'open' or 'closed' to student level users. Open objects can be booked by anyone. Closed objects can have open day/time slots added by staff level users to allow closed object time slots to be booked by students. For example, a staff member could create a 'diary' as a closed object, and designate open slots within it that students could sign up to, such as tutorial or counsellor meetings. Students are reminded of any booking slots via the home page.  Staff can email all the sign-ups via the tool. See the wiki help pages (more to come)

updated inc_showQuestionnaire to allow staff/tutors to mark 'quiz-mode' questionnaires even after 'results live' is set (allows marking of late submissions post release of marks)

javascript/CSS in codePrefs
updated javascript and CSS to make use of linked files instead of embedding the code/style in page. Seems to have made a slight performance gain, as caching of these files is quicker than having to recalculate/embed in each page. Also fixed some css related js warnings in tools, showClass, dhtmlwindow_css

(admin tool for viewing all new postings) fixed bug where new posts were not linked correctly to the thread view (were linked to thread=0)

added in 'research leader' group option. Members of this group are able to 'read only' any student record in their cluster/department

blog posts now available as rss feeds at blog_rss.php?ID=, for example this blog's feed is at:

website upgraded to lastest template system

SIPBS website
fixed bug in page.php causing right column to display below main column in IE6 (had to reduce main column with to 330px)


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javascript and css

Wednesday 09 December 2009 03:09 pm

just completed a revamp of the way SPIDER manages the javascript and css files it uses so that these are no longer embedded on each page. They are now linked, which should make things a little quicker and a bit more efficient. Using the inline option made it easier to customise e.g. the stylesheet colour for text or backgrounds, but meant each page had to contain that information. Linking to the stylesheets/ javascript means that the browser can load these once, then cache them, which should improve performance. This worked out to be a bit more complex, as the linked pages do not have access to 'in-page' variables from the 'main page'. So for example, when viewing the home page, the script on the page looks up your preferences for colours etc and stores them in a variable. Prior to the change, the css could make use of your chosen colours as it was embedded in the page. With the css now being linked, these stored variables are passed to the linked page, so that they can be used. A little more complex to program, but should pay off in terms of speed, as well as making the code/design a bit clearer.

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1 comment

fixed bug - missed the link/visited link colour preferences from this change.

Posted by Ian Thursday 10 December 2009 11:20 am


Thursday 03 December 2009 04:04 pm

November stats
November was the second month in a row to have 3 million page vists with a grand total of 3,089,907  by 8,370 different users. That works out at 369 page visits per user, averaging just over 12 pages each day of the month.

questionnaire tool
questionnaires now have an 'allow review' option that when set to 'yes' grants acces to the questionnaire in 'read only' mode. This is restricted to users who were in the original 'scope' of the questionnaire, and only allows the user to review the responses they made themselves. They cannot make or save any changes.

fixed editing questions to retain greek symbols etc. Put a new symbol toolbar on question builder. Changed 'test quiz' so that it doesn't store answers (this not live until web exams have finished, just in case). 

booking system
now being used by psychology undergrads, so locked down system for students so they can only book / email themselves / groups they are in. Signup slots fixed for IE & now live. Any booking can be set to remind who it's booked for on spider homepage.

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