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This is a guide to the developments made to the SPIDER system from its initial creation in 1998 to the current system in use.

Dec 1998 SPIDER

  • SPIDER v1 launched to support a single class
  • approx 120 students
  • single developer

1999 SPIDER 1a

  • by mid 99 most MPharm classes (~25) represented on system
  • move to dynamic, database backed system (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP)
  • BRUCe implemented using MS technology (ASP/IIS/NT server) for technical comparison

2001 SPIDER II (+ BRUCe)

  • all classes for MPharm degree supported by SPIDER
  • caters to 550 students
  • MS technology dropped as BRUCe switched to Linux (Apache,MySQL, PHP) and unification of system development using "LAMP"
  • BRUCe has ~30 classes catering to around 400 student users
  • SQuID quiz system monitoring in place, along with file content management


  • Feb 02: SPIDER@IMU implemented on site in International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as part of Twinned Pharmacy Programme (~150 student/staff users covering 22 classes)
  • Jul 02: sees launch of SPIDER III and a vastly improved security system, and increased number of system tools
  • improved content management system; new content creation tools; quiz builder
  • 2 other developers contributing to development
  • SPIDER now has 800 and BRUCe 1200 staff and student users
  • SPIDER-Physics: pilot system for single class (200 students)
  • departmental management databases (safety, asset register, radiation) available

2003 SPIDER III - "Faculty"

  • Mar-Aug 03: SPIDER system modified to allow for faculty wide use, using "clusters" to allow different departments/ groups of departments to control own content
  • 4 staff training courses developed and run
  • Sept 03: SPIDER Faculty launched with classes from all 10 departments in Science Faculty
  • Master of International Management and MSc Economic Management and Policy courses (Business School) start to use system
  • integrated electronic Personal Development Portfolio (ePDP) used by Pharmacy students for session 03-04

2004 new developments

  • authentication and integration with central university systems (LDAP/ADS, PEGASUS). Allows users to use same username/password for logins as all other university systems and class lists/user data to be "pulled" from central Oracle systems into SPIDER's mySQL database
  • All year 1 and year 2 Biosciences undergraduates use ePDP
  • Chemical and Process Engineering department pilot ePDP for use in session 04-05
  • Department of Sports, Culture and the Arts begin to use SPIDER with undergraduates
  • SPIDER page visits top 1 million - over 1.3 Million for the month of October 2004


  • 2 years of incremental updates to SPIDER III to "version IV", but with no official launch, so next major release in Sept 2005 branded version V .
  • Completely redesigned ePDP system. Now degree/programme specific, multiple ePDPs per cluster, each fully customisable to different user's needs
  • Use of SPIDER by courses in the Faculty of Education and Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences
  • Redesigned interface - users now able to choose between 4 different navigation systems
  • Start of session 05-06 sees over 10,000 registered users


  • around 900 classes from dozens of degrees use SPIDER to support their teaching
  • SPIDER accessibility revisited, access keys made available in all navigation styles
  • the groups tools are updated to allow for sub-groups, and more choices for making groups from existing data are added


  • SPIDER has over 2.3 million page visits in October, a new record
  • classes climb to over 1000 in 11 clusters, with over 7,500 users logging per month
  • Psychology department start to use SPIDER


  • over 16.5 million visits are recorded in 2008
  • new server purchased in Nov 08 (2x Xeon CPU, 8GB RAM, 0.75Tb RAID 5)
  • SPIDER has over 26,000 users (1,300 staff, 15,000 students, 10,000 alumni)
  • SPIDER celebrates its 10th anniversary in Dec 2008


  • over 20.8 million visits for the year, delivering 1400+ classes for over 160 degree programmes
  • 3.1 million page visits in October, smashing the previous record high
  • SPIDER has over 32,000 user accounts (approx 1500 staff, 17,500 students, 13,000 alumni)


  • the core of SPIDER is re-written to make wider use of functions for database interactions, data handling and form management (essentially SPIDER VI though we didn't tag it as such).
  • CSS revisited in combination with the core rewrite to allow for "SPIDER-mobile"
  • began development on "API" to allow interaction with other campus based LE systems as part of Strathclyde's proposed 'unified VLE'
  • Dev pages are begun

for historical interest, also see - development diary | [newsletters]