Developer Profile: Davo Smith

This is part of a blog series of short profiles on plugin developers within the Moodle community, and today it is Davo Smith.

Name: Davo Smith
Twitter: @davosmith
Blog: -none-
Source Code:

Tell us something about yourself

I’m a Moodle developer working for Moodle Partner Synergy Learning. Before that I spent 8 years as an IT teacher and before that, I worked on a Superman game for the PS2/Gamecube.

When not sitting in front of a computer, I’m often found, with my wife and children, at our local church or in meetings to organise a couple of the small, local festivals here in Sheffield.

When did you first start programming?

I started programming in BASIC on the ZX Spectrum when I was about 8 years old. I cannot remember what my first program was, but since then I’ve written code in a wide variety of languages (from assembly, to C++, PHP, Javascript and Python) for a wide range of platforms (PCs, websites, games consoles and others).

When did you first encouter Moodle?

The college where I worked for 5 years used Moodle to power their VLE. After learning how to use all the features included as standard, I started work on adding a few of my own.

What did you use Moodle for?

Until recently, I used it mainly as a teacher, with Moodle development being done in my spare time. Having taken a job at Synergy Learning, I am no longer using Moodle to teach – the development work has taken over full-time.

What was your first Moodle plugin? Why did you write it?

My first plugin was the ‘Realtime Quiz activity’. I wrote it as I liked the idea of using the hand-held voting buttons for class quizzes, but thought it would be silly to spend time getting out all the equipment when I already had a classroom full of computers.

What is your latest Moodle plugin & why did you write it?

My latest plugin was the Drag and drop upload block. I wrote it because I’d seen how you could drag and drop attachments onto an email in Gmail and wanted to see if it was possible to do the same in a Moodle course.

On the back of this, we’ve now got the latest development version of Moodle allowing you to drag & drop files into forms.

What would you say to someone who is considering writing a Moodle plugin?

Be prepared to read the code – the docs are getting better and there are lots of helpful people out there to help in the forums, but there is really no substitute for simply looking at how the core plugins are written, figuring out what is going on and copying them.

Final Thoughts

I’ve enjoyed being part of the Moodle community over the last 5 years and I’m looking forward to still being involved for many years to come.

Some Plugins

This is a list of the plugins that Davo has contributed to that are currently (Jan 2012) in the Moodle plugins database. For the uptodate list check this page

Checklist: A checklist can be created by a teacher (or generated from the activities in a course) and then the students or teachers can check-off each item as they are completed. This includes an activity, a block and a grade export working together. Read the review
Drag and drop file upload: This Moodle 1.9 / 2.x block allows you to drag files directly from your desktop onto a Moodle course. It works with recent versions of Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, but not with Microsoft Internet Explorer. Read the review:
Lesson Objectives: This block displays current lesson objectives in the side bar (to both teacher and students) and allows a teacher to check them off as they are completed. Read the review
Navigation Buttons: This block adds customisable navigation buttons (next/prev/etc.) to the bottom of each activity page
Realtime Quiz: This is an MCQ designed for use in face to face lessons.
UploadPDF: This enables a teacher to annotate student’s work within your browser and return it as a PDF. There is also a grade report which works with this.
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