As many of you know, I left my day job to concentrate on PoodLL and Moodle work. That was in April of this year (2014) and so far so good. A few asked at that time “What will happen to PoodLL?” I think they thought that I was moving on. Far from it. While balancing the need to make a living, I had a number of things I wanted to get done with PoodLL.
The most visible of these was a makeover job on the website. I threw in the towel and decided not to do it myself. I hired a company called DiscreetLogix to do it. I am responsible for the cute Poodle with the microphone, but they did everything else. Apart from the visuals, I wanted a better system for managing documentation, a more realistic downloads system, and to manage support enquiries better. Did I get it? Well ….. mostly.
The new documentation system looks like this.
While it looks ok, there is a big problem. The pages are not WordPress pages, they are something else. So they have to be written in markdown and fatally, they don’t have permalinks. Even changing the order of an item in the menu, changes its URL. Any links to that documentation page will then be broken. So this part of things, is going to have to change. For now I won’t be adding more documentation until this is sorted out.
It did not make much sense anymore to host all the PoodLL downloads here. I was having to update them in three locations whenever I put out a new version. The PoodLL Kaboodle was the most popular download, since it had all the mods in one big installable zip. But not infrequently people would mess up the install when doing it that way. So now the downloads simply link to Moodle.org or GitHub and there is no PoodLL Kaboodle. Though it is more time consuming to install mod by mod, it is safer and it requires newbies to think about which mods they need. If you are an admin type of person who has to do this a lot, git is a better install option. You can, as do I, script all the PoodLL mods to install in one command if you wish. The downloads section now looks like this:
I actually enjoy providing support to PoodLL users. Usually it is easy, because I know PoodLL better than anyone. But at times the sheer number of support emails was hard to deal with. And many of the support enquiries were the same. I often wondered, for every person who took the time to find my contact page and send me email, how many people just said “bah this rubbish” and moved on ..or battled away stubbornly by themselves. Personally I would lose a lot of time answering emails, which I admit I enjoy, but should probably be used to make the mobile app or improve the documentation. So now the support page looks like this:
That is quite a change isn’t it? First the documentation section, then a link to the PoodLL section of the Moodle forum and finally a premium support option. From now on, if the documentation doesn’t contain the information that you need, please post on the forum. Helen Foster from Moodle HQ was very helpful in setting that up earlier this year. It makes it easier for me to help, and it also forms a searchable knowledge base.
The premium support section is new and it formalizes something that has been going on for some time now. People request I install PoodLL or login to their server and fix up some problem. Or they want to talk a few PoodLL/Moodle things over via Skype. And of course it offers email support. These are paid plans, but they are reasonably priced.
There is a 4th option. You will notice at the top of each page on the site, this bar:
So I will make myself available once a week for two hours for anyone who wants to get in touch via Skype or Google Hangouts (chat or voice). I had hoped I could just open some sort of hangout ‘room’, and people could follow the link in. But it seems it is a wee bit different. Anyway, just click on the “Skype or Hangout with the PoodLL Guy each Wednesday 10AM – 12AM” for instructions. It might pay to send me a message in advance, but I will try and be online anyway.