As part of the 2.6 release CLAMP is making a non-trivial change to Quickmail. Although covered in the release notes, this change is significant enough to warrant its own post. If you are installing a LAE 2.6 release or otherwise rely on CLAMP for Quickmail it is very important that you read this.
CLAMP has included in every release of the Liberal Arts Edition, going all the way back to the NITLE Moodle User Group meeting/Hack Doc Fest at DePauw in the Summer of 2010. We consider it a bedrock of the LAE distribution and a core feature for our constituency.
For the Moodle 1.9 releases we used the “small” Quickmail which most schools already had in production. For 2.0 we evaluated several of the Quickmail ports before adopting the version developed and maintained by Louisiana State University. Even then we made some changes to create a safe upgrade path from the “small” Quickmail in 1.9 and incorporated those changes into the LAE.
From CLAMP’s point of view a core component of Quickmail is the ability to email attachments. Many of our constituents do not have class-based email lists and rely on Quickmail to deliver this functionality.
At the Kalamazoo Hack/Doc, which was held in the Summer of 2012, we determined to part ways with LSU’s Quickmail because of design decisions made by LSU involving attachments. Future releases of LSU Quickmail would include links back to Moodle in lieu of a traditional attachment. While a desirable choice in many ways, this wasn’t the functionality we desired to deliver. From that point forward we stopped accepting upstream feature changes from LSU and “froze” the Quickmail we shipped with the LAE, except for compatibility and bug fixes.
A new plugin
We no longer believe this approach is sustainable. The version of Quickmail we ship has the same internal name block_quickmail, as LSU Quickmail. This can cause conflicts as Moodle cannot differentiate internally between the two. Therefore, we are releasing a new plugin which we call CLAMPMail. The block itself is still titled Quickmail, but the internal name is block_clampmail. This will prevent conflicts with LSU Quickmail.
We will begin including this plugin with the 2.6 package release. It was not feasible to create an upgrade path from LSU Quickmail to CLAMPMail. Therefore, we are including our same modified version of LSU Quickmail in the 2.6 releases, but with two changes:
- The block is now publicly named “Quickmail (Old)”.
- Adding the block is now disabled by default.
We did this so that if you are upgrading an older Moodle to 2.6 courses with the “old” (LSU) Quickmail installed will not break. At the moment CLAMPMail is functionally equivalent to LSU Quickmail, but we intend to develop it further.
Please note that if you have Quickmail as part of your standard course configuration and intend to use CLAMPMail you will need to change this manually.
The goal of this process is to separate the LAE from LSU Quickmail. The principal driver of this decision is attachments. If that feature isn’t important to you then this is also an opportunity to transition away from CLAMP-modified Quickmail to another provider. If you use a package release and you do not wish to use CLAMPMail then you will need to delete the blocks/quickmail and blocks/clampmail folder and download LSU Quickmail before running an installation or upgrade. If you use a stable release (without contrib modules) then simply select your modules as you see fit.
In a nutshell
The above, summed up in a series of bullet points:
- CLAMP shipped a modified form of LSU Quickmail for all Moodle releases through 2.5.
- Beginning with 2.6 CLAMP will disable LSU Quickmail and ship a new module, CLAMPMail, in its package releases.
- If you use a package release and have Quickmail as a default block you will need to update your configuration.
- Old courses should still work correctly.
- If you want real email attachments you need CLAMPMail.