[Moin-user] WikiBooks and Quiz Software: General Discussion

Neal Holtz nholtz at cee.carleton.ca
Sat Jul 23 17:40:38 EDT 2011

Hello - I'm just looking for general comments, if anyone cares
to give them. (I apologize in advance for the length of this msg).

I'm planning to start developing a wiki text book for a university
level engineering course I'm teaching.  I've so far only got a page
or two and a rough structure as a proof of concept.  In addition
to the easily added extra value such as images, photos, problem
solving videos (ala Khan Academy), I'ld like other media there
as well, such as interactive self test questions, application
software, perhaps links to things like sagemath worksheets, etc.

Oh yes: a lot of mathematics is involved.

= One =

I suppose I should really start with WikiBooks, particularly as
there is the start of a text on the subject there already.  It does
provide some nice stuff out of the box, such as pdf creation
for an entire text (or subset, I assume).  However, the things 
I don't like are:
  - I don't think I can get the software, and I really don't want
    to host this on their server.
  - MediaWiki on which it based can be installed, but I really
    don't want to program in php if I don't have to ...  And I
    do expect some new code will be necessary

So I guess if I want to extend a wiki system using Python, that 
MoinMoin is the best choice.  That was my first discussion point.

= Two =

Markup language: I was pulled toward reStructured text,
again because of all the extra stuff that is there already
built around it.  However, after doing a couple of pages,
I really dislike it (esthetically).  I really do prefer using
wiki markup.  I looked at creole in hopes of getting something
that might be more portable but that doesn't seem to
be the silver bullet either, yet.

I'll want things like the ability to generate text-book-like
pdfs of a set of pages, so students can print easier.  

Should I stick with wiki markup and develop the required
tools based on that?  (they are not high priority).

= Three =

Now - self test questions:  I'm intrigued about leveraging
moodle for this purpose; I can easily see having questions
for grading students within moodle - I will probably eventually 
do so.

Moodle stores questions in a relational database, and can
export them in several formats.  I think it might be possible
to develop some python code to either access the moodle
database directly, or read the exported xml (I'ld probably
do both). Then render the questions for anonymous self
testing for wiki book readers.  This is a significant amount
of work, but I don't think its huge (I have done this before,
in 1994, believe it or not ... :-[

Most of the hard work is in the user interface to develop
questions, and thats already been done in moodle.

The way I see this is developing a parser for moin that
would read either the moodle xml or moodle database
info, and present the question.

Any other quiz engines in python?

If you got this far, you patience is remarkable.

Thanks - any kind of comments are welcome.

Neal Holtz                             http://cee.carleton.ca/~nholtz
Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering,   Carleton University,   
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 5B6.               nholtz at cee.carleton.ca
Public Key:  http://holtz3.cee.carleton.ca/~nholtz/pubkey.asc
Office-Hours: http://holtz3.cee.carleton.ca/~nholtz/office-hours.html
Free-Busy: http://holtz3.cee.carleton.ca/~nholtz/free-busy.cgi

More information about the Moin-user mailing list