Tag: quickmail

The state of Quickmail

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:

  1. The block is now publicly named “Quickmail (Old)”.
  2. 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.

Going forward

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.

Colgate Hack/Doc Fest: Day 1 – Moodle 2.4 LAE, Quickmail, Schedule, Bootstrap

On the first day of Moodle Hack/Doc Fest the doc’ers worked their way through the Moodle 2.4 feature set and started getting ready to review Moodle 2.5. They also kicked around the responsive Bootstrap theme for Moodle 2.4 and 2.5. Meanwhile the Hackers put together a candidate release for Moodle 2.4 and dedicated cycles to working on Scheduler, Quickmail, Language Lesson, and the Moodle app.

We had three presentations, starting with Ken Newquist’s (Lafayette College) The State of Moodle, followed by Charles Fulton’s (Lafayette College) Moodle Grabbag Featuring  Roster View and Course Timer and Carly Born’s (Carleton College) Assignment 2.4 Overview. The presentations are available on YouTubeRead more

Day 2 at Moodle Hack/Doc Fest, Winter 2012

Moodle Hack/Doc Fest at Tulane continued on Thursday, January 13, 2012. Here’s what we did:

OM Local

  • For the last few years we’ve been using the “OM” tool to quickly create new instances of Moodle based on code from our Git repository and pre-made database profiles. Daniel Landau (Reed College) has created a local version of this tool that can be run on Unix-based operating systems (Mac OS X, Linux)

Moodle 2.2 Documentation

  • CLAMP’s Moodle 2 documentation has been updated to reflect Moodle 2.2. View the documentation.
  • New documentation is being written for:
    • Time release of resources
    • Advanced Grading/Rubrics
  • New administration documentation is being written for the following repository types:
    • Flickr
    • Dropbox
    • Google Docs
    • Youtube


  • We evaluated rubrics, which seem to be working pretty well. There are some gotchas in terms of how grades are weighted, which will be covered in the documentation.


  • LSU quickmail works pretty darn well. Allows multiple attachments. Nice browse interface.
  • There is a bug involving the capabilities “can_send_mail” and “can_students_use_quickmail?” Depending on how these settings are configured, they may not work at all. Caroline Moore (Smith College) and Damon Blanchette (Smith College) is debugging this.


  • When exporting and restoring coures, Moodle 2 does a better job of relative linking so that the file links don’t break.
  • Private files: Is there a way to back up and restore private files? (a la course backups?) There doesn’t appear to be one. This could be an issue for colleges that run semester-based or academic year-based instances of Moodle, and want faculty to have access to their previous private files.
  • We questioned if private files should even be turned on, but weren’t sure what the implications of leaving it off would be. If nothing else, the mobile app expects mobile files to be on in order to upload images, audio, etc. to Moodle.


  • A major issue with Moodle enrollments under 2.0 was that student data — particularly grades — was lost when a student was unenrolled from a course and then re-enrolled (a not uncommon scenario).
  • Under Moodle 2.2, grades come back with the student, but only if you check a hidden advanced option to restore grades for that particularly student when re-enrolling them in the course.
  • We think there should be a system-level checkbox for administrators so that they can default this option to “yes”. This would allow Moodle 2.2 to operate as Moodle 1.9.x did.


  • IPAL Web-based Clickers by William Junkin, Eckerd College
    • William did a live presentation of his IPAL web-based clicker for Moodle 2.1.
    • Students can respond with any web-enabled device. During the presentation most used smartphones.
    • Responses arrive (and are displayed) in real time.
    • You can copy IPAL questions in from Questionnaire.
    • IPAL does not do grading, but there are folks who are working on that.
    • The interface currently only allows you to see current student responses; there isn’t an export tool for responses. The responses are stored in the database, so they could be retrieved for use in a report.
    • A version for 2.2 will be released; there is no 1.9 version.