Review: Activity Module Docbook

The plugin for todays review is the Activity Module DocBook.


For those who don’t know what Docbook is, you can either Google it, or you can look through the site. In short, DocBook is a semantic markup language designed for holding the contents of a technical book or technical documentation. It holds the content of the book in a “presentation-neutral” XML format so the content can then be published in a variety of forms afterwards, web, print, etc without having to alter the source, just the output.

This module is contributed and submitted by Madhabendra Mandal.

What does it do?

This is a straight forward module. It enables a teacher take a technical manual or book written in the DocBook format and present it within Moodle for consumption. That’s it. Very simple and effective!

Is it simple to install?

The file is hosted in Moodle Contrib so you can download the zip file from there. The zip holds one folder which contains the files for the activity module. Once you unzip, you need to upload the docbook folder into your Moodle 2.0 mod folder. When upgrading through the notifications page, it installed successfully.

There was quite a few global settings for the Activity Module which can be seen in the images below:

Activity Module Docbook Settings_1

Activity Module Docbook Settings_1


Activity Module Docbook Settings_2

Activity Module Docbook Settings_2


The important settings to consider are frame height, Available display options and popup width/height. But as usual when testing mods I left all the settings as default.

Is there documentation for it?

That is indeed a good question. The plugin page has the instructions for how to use the module, as does the zip file in a README.txt. It describes the  installation and basic usage and lists the content of the sample zip package. However, the link to the Documentation is for a zipfile which is a docbook package which can be used for the activity.

Is it easy for the teacher/admin to use?

Once this is installed by the admin, the only thing the teacher needs to do is to add the resource to a course and upload the docbook zip – similar to how you add a SCORM into the course. Although admin can has set some defaults, you can override these on the activity options. The settings block name showed up as [[pluginadministration]] but that is a minor issue.

Is it easy for the learner/student to use?

For a student this is similar to a BOOK module resource with them being given an index and some content just like the sample one below.

Viewing the Sample DocBook

Viewing the Sample DocBook

Does it do what it promises?

This module does exactly as promised. It presents a docbook format content within Moodle. I liked it, however I dont know how much content is available as docbook, so I went looking and there are many tools to create such books.

There is a nice page here about getting started with DocBook and another here to help Demystification DocBook.

Stars: 3 out of 5 stars for this block.


**Standard Reminder**

These reviews check out the plugin for usability not for security. If you are considering installing any module on your site you should also check that is secure and does not impact the server performance.

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