Developer Profile – Richard Oelmann

This is part of a blog series of short profiles on plugin developers within the Moodle community. Today it is Richard Oelmann.

Name: Richard Oelmann
Twitter: @editconsultants
Blog:  –
Source Code:

Tell us something about yourself

My background is as a Primary School teacher for the last 18 years, until leaving the job this year. During that time I was IT coordinator in a range of schools, Advisory Teacher for ICT in Cardiff and Deputy Head of a school in Monmouthshire.

Since leaving Primary teaching, I am now working for University of Wales, Newport as a ‘Web Based Learning Environment’ developer – Essentially I am managing the upgrade of the University’s learning environment to Moodle2.

When did you first start programming?

Since originally learning BBC Basic programming about 25 years ago, I had done virtually no programming or coding of any description until I started working on Moodle themes. Since doing so, I have been learning HTML, PHP and CSS primarily – teaching myself with plenty of support and encouragement from the community.

When did you first encounter Moodle?

I first encountered Moodle as an Advisory Teacher in Cardiff, when it was being rolled out as a Virtual Learning Environment for the Primary Schools in the County. At that stage I was simply a user – and providing support to teachers beginning to use Moodle in their schools – I was not involved in the ‘back-end’ of Moodle until I returned to school and began setting it up for myself.

What did you use Moodle for?

I have used Moodle in all these roles, moving from being a user (‘student’ type role) to Teacher before beginning to administer Moodle for my school when I left Advisory Teaching and returned to the classroom.

Currently, I would tend to call myself an administrator with an interest in developing – although I guess others see me as a developer as that is now my job description!

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

My first ‘plugin’ was a theme to create the appropriate look and feel for my school. This wasn’t released to the community, although when Moodle2 was first released I began creating some themes for the community where many of us were learning about the changes to themes in Moodle2. I believe the first theme I released to the community was a light-weight theme called LampLite..

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

My latest plugin released to the community was a pair of themes called MultiLayout and MultiStyled, with the intention of providing administrators who have limited server access with a means to choose a variety of layout options. As with many of my themes it developed from comments on the forums about a variety of needs, although not necessarily a specific feature request.

I have also recently written a few small modifications of some of the standard blocks within Moodle to target specific needs within the University.

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

My advice would be – give it a go!

Look at what you want to achieve and look at some of the existing plugins – not necessarily ones that do something similar – you might get ideas for different parts of your plugin from different places.

Make use of the community – there are plenty of people out there who will be more than happy to help you.

Final Thoughts

As you can tell from my previous answers I am a big advocate of the Moodle Forum Community. You can learn so much from other members of the community, but I would definitely recommend active involvement in the forums – replying as well as asking 🙂

Some Plugins

This is a list of the plugins that Richard has contributed to that are currently (Jan 2012) in the Moodle plugins database. To view all these in the Plugin database check this page

A theme for admins who do not have regular access to server files. It has a very comprehensive settings page to allow changes to the theme.
A Moodle2 theme which integrates awesomebar and custom menu into a single menu bar.
Lagomorph A css3 based theme intended to be suitable for tablet/mobile use. This theme also incorporates new block positions in the centre section.
MultiLayout is a theme with minimal styling which enables various 1, 2 or 3 column page layouts to be used from within the single layout file with little recoding.
Multistyled is a child theme for Multilayout. It provides the colour scheme and settings page for Multilayout, allowing the page layout and colours to be controlled from the theme’s settings page.
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