[LON-CAPA-users] New Content/Problem Editor - Input needed NOW

Harding, Gene L glhardin at purdue.edu
Fri Oct 10 09:32:46 EDT 2014

Hi Gerd, Damien, et al,

I generally agree with most of the comments I have seen yesterday and today.  I also use both the colorful and text editors.  I find the text editor especially useful for creating multiple similar blocks of material, such as multi-part problems, but I go back and forth between the two editors often.

In the color editor, more context-sensitive help would be a great improvement.  A better help system in general would be really useful.  I am not a "power user" of LON-CAPA, and only recently figured out how to properly structure a response to require a certain number of significant figures.  Sometime later I finally figured out that the reason it was not working for decimal problems was that I needed to change the "int_range" parameter to "dec_range".  I only figured that out by guessing; there is no context help button by that parameter in the template.  For some reason I cannot access the general help at all right now (I just get a white screen), but that's a different issue.  I realize that I am not a power user, but I might suggest MATLAB as a model for a pretty good help system.  It's not perfect, but after some digging I can usually find what I need.  Even when the general help system here was working, I often could not find the help I needed.

One of Damien's comments concerns me:  ... with some elements removed, and some structural changes.  Backward compatibility is very important to me.  I experienced a nightmare when Blackboard moved from Vista to Learn, which is what prompted me to switch to LON-CAPA.  The switch to LC was painful, but allowed me to generally preserve years of content that I had created.  If I have to go through something like that again, I may stop using online Learning Management Systems altogether.

Gene L. Harding, P.E.
Associate Professor of ECET
Purdue University
glhardin at purdue.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: lon-capa-users-bounces at mail.lon-capa.org [mailto:lon-capa-users-bounces at mail.lon-capa.org] On Behalf Of Damien Guillaume
Sent: Thursday, October 09, 2014 5:29 PM
To: Discussion list for LON-CAPA users
Subject: Re: [LON-CAPA-users] New Content/Problem Editor - Input needed NOW

Hi all,

Just to clarify a few things: I have started work on the new graphical editor (as opposed to the text editor that you call XML editor even though it is not XML), although I have mostly been busy defining the new XML language and writing a conversion (the language will evolve a little bit, by becoming real XML, with some elements removed, and some structural changes).

Some important points about the new editor:
- the text editor will not be removed, it will be improved (hopefully based on what Stefan demoed at the conference)
- the colorful editor will probably be removed, because keeping it even as an easter egg would require a lot of changes (because of the evolution of the language and because of other changes in LON-CAPA)
- the new graphical editor will not require constant save&edit, changes in the document structure will be immediate and saving the document will be independant.
- as the colorful editor, it will help create better markup (even cleaner, hopefully), and will provide lots of contextual help (even more)
- it will be more WYSIWYG, especially with HTML. But we are still wondering how we could do better than WYSIWYG HTML + LON-CAPA elements with boxes as in the colorful editor. If you have any idea on that...
- the main goal is to make it easier for new users to start creating resources in LON-CAPA
- I could say more but I should probably not at this point, because we are curious to see what you would really like.

Several people are going back and forth between the colorful editor and the text editor: what would make you stay in the graphical editor ?
Some people find even the colorful editor hard to learn. Some are even scared by the boxes (I heard a "this looks like a database" comment once). What could we do about it ?

> For example the colors, borders, separation and layout chosen for outlining certain blocks or options might not be distinctive enough.
> (<part></part> comes to mind.)

The borders are currently very visible in the colorful editor. Do you mean that we should add some blinking :-) or that some borders should be
*less* visible, so that the important ones stand out ?

> The text there perhaps could provide more guidance -- if I'm using the 
> colorful editor, I don't need to know that I'm adding a "Block for 
> After Solved" -- I need, perhaps under the Advanced tab, an option to 
> add messages before the problem has been attempted, when it's been 
> attempted but wrong, when it's been answered correctly, any time 
> before the due date and after the due date. Maybe that's all grouped 
> in a Messages category where I click a checkbox for which type of 
> message or messages I want to add, a text box appears beneath, and I 
> type in my message for each type I'm adding.  Things like that I think 
> would make it more user-friendly for those who want that type of interface.

But the block specifies where these message will appear: if we don't insert something in the document, how would we specify where it should appear ? Or is that position unimportant ?


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