Perl 6 - the future is here, just unevenly distributed

IRC log for #webwork, 2013-11-08

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Time Nick Message
00:31 mgage_ joined #webwork
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14:53 goehle joined #webwork
14:53 goehle hey mgage / mgage_
14:53 mgage_ hi
14:54 goehle I've got a little bit of free time today
14:54 goehle any webwork things that need attention?
14:54 mgage_ a few -- I'm catching up on grading a midterm so I'm a bit snowed.  You've been doing a good job of pull requests
14:55 mgage_ as far as I can tell so you can continue to look at those (sorry I haven't been able to active on that this last week or so)
14:56 mgage_ did you see Dick Lane's post on the forum called "suggestions for webwork2.8"?
14:57 goehle I dont think so
14:57 mgage_ I think he is quite right to focus on a couple of behaviors that have been resurfacing steadily
14:57 mgage_ http://webwork.maa.org/moodle/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=3159
14:58 mgage_ I think a good way to address it would be to create wiki pages for each behavior and put them in a category and then make sure they get addressed.
14:58 goehle why wiki pages and not an Issue
14:58 mgage_ The kind of thing I'm thinking about are: Hardcopy issues -- should the path to the file occur or not -- how should it depend
14:58 goehle ah I see
14:59 goehle so a more permenant record of why things are the way they are
14:59 mgage_ on the targeted user as opposed to the "actual user" -- the one that requested the hardcopy.
14:59 mgage_ exactly
15:00 mgage_ when the discussion comes up it would be nice to be able to point to a page describing how they are supposed to be perhaps with supporting discussion of why things were decided that way
15:00 goehle sure
15:00 goehle couple questins
15:00 mgage_ (the discussion pages behind the main wiki page could be used for this support if it gets too lengthy
15:00 goehle should the import date shifting thing be in 2.8?
15:00 goehle oh and github wiki
15:00 goehle or existing wiki?
15:01 mgage_ I was thinking of existing media wiki -- this is kind of a public document for non-developers as well -- but I could be convinced either way
15:01 goehle thats fine, I just wanted to see
15:02 goehle also, I noticed a bug the other day with a bunch of css stuff
15:02 goehle does that need any action
15:02 mgage_ the wiki page would however also be a good reference for each release to make sure that the new release still behaves according to an agreed upon protocol
15:02 mgage_ which css bug -- I might have missed that
15:03 mgage_ for the behaviors I'm talking about Dick Lane and Danny Glin have been pretty active about pointing them out so trolling for their posts to the forums and in ww-devel will probably bring up most of the issues.
15:04 mgage_ I'll help out with finding issues (and maybe even fixing them).  this is fairly close to the top of the list of things I'd like done
15:05 mgage_ before we merge 2.8 into master.  -- I just have to get thiings done here, such as tests, before I start in.
15:06 mgage_ how big a change is moving the start dates.  -- if it's fairly minimal then it can go into 2.8.   since we'd like to merge 2.8 into mster in about 3 weeks I'd get more and more conservative about adding new features.  Basically stick to straight bug fixes.
15:07 goehle it adds a field where if you put a date
15:07 goehle it shifts all of the dates from the imported sets so that the earliest is the date you provided
15:07 goehle (a long request feature, if potentially a bit confusing)
15:08 mgage_ ok -- let's go ahead and try to get it in.  it will be welcomed
15:09 goehle http://bugs.webwork.maa.org/show_bug.cgi?id=2883
15:09 goehle thats the bug I mentioned
15:10 mgage_ aori has been submitting pull requests to develop for accessibility fixes. I think it's ok to leave it like that for now.  It would be nice to have them incorporated soon, but there is not a lot of pressure on this issue right at the moment.
15:11 mgage_ I did see that.  I'll leave that to your judgement -- is this a good improvement over what you've got already -- the .png looked clean to me, but I didn't spend a lot of thought on it.
15:12 goehle the accessability fixes are not very intrusive
15:12 goehle basically its a bunch of css classes
15:12 goehle that dont affect how things look
15:12 mgage_ it's also possible to allow these themes to begin to fork.  there may be some things which are a matter of taste.
15:12 goehle but hook into screen readers, etc...
15:12 goehle actually, there is a lot more that could be done
15:13 goehle in theory you should have aria landmarks on all of your form fields and navigation buttons, etc...
15:13 mgage_ I don't object to having the accessibiiity fixes in 2.8 -- but it would mean resubmitting them to release/2.8 instead of develop? or do I have that wrong?
15:13 goehle nope
15:13 goehle and in fact they were already resubmitted
15:14 goehle (and I merged them in fact)
15:14 mgage_ kk -- that works then
15:14 goehle I'm not a huge fan of the new layout in the bug
15:14 goehle some things are nice
15:14 goehle but I don't see huge measurable improvements that warrent changing math4
15:14 goehle a lot of it seems like preference
15:15 mgage_ then I'd let the bug report sit for the moment -- but it might be a good point to start from when thinking about how to write css that would allow for relatively easy customization by the user.
15:15 mgage_ or instructor or the site
15:15 goehle yeah
15:15 goehle the problem with themes as they are now
15:15 goehle is that they are more like interfaces
15:16 goehle and if we start forking them
15:16 goehle it gets to be a lot of work to check and see if all of the themes still function properly
15:17 mgage_ right.  I would mostly just stabilize the current themes and put off a lot of work on the next stage if implementing themes until we see what Peter's interfaces look like.
15:17 goehle ok
15:17 goehle i'll just let the bug request sit then
15:17 mgage_ I think the backbone.js backed interface will have a lot more tools for manipulating the look and feel of the pages.
15:18 goehle yeah
15:18 mgage_ and it may be easier to implement themes in a way that can be customized with light weight changes.
15:18 goehle some of it will be putting the appropriate visual elements into its own css file
15:18 goehle its trouble though
15:18 goehle because a lot of this stuff is done using less
15:18 goehle so, like, if you want to change a certain color
15:18 goehle the best way to do it is to change that colors variable in less
15:19 goehle and rebuild the css
15:19 goehle so even something as theoretically simple as just branding the page with  your school colors becomes suprisingly tricky
15:20 mgage_ I'm not familiar with less -- I just looked it up
15:20 goehle people use it to generate css
15:20 goehle it supports variable names
15:20 goehle and some basic coding elements
15:21 goehle so you would use a variable for the dark blue color that is on a lot of the button/header elements in webwork
15:21 mgage_ I'm seeing that.
15:21 goehle right
15:21 goehle so the issue is that you "compile" your css from that
15:22 mgage_ It would take some thought to decide whether it's a good idea or not.  I'm not against compiling in principle
15:22 goehle well thats how its done now, in any case
15:22 goehle the question is
15:22 goehle do you compile once to get the css and then have that included into the hmlt
15:22 goehle (which is what most sites do)
15:23 mgage_ the goal however is to have a clear and relatively easy path for people to make small changes to customize their site without having to proofread and test every aspect to make sure that it still works.
15:23 goehle people as in instructors or administrators?
15:23 mgage_ more administrators I think
15:23 goehle thats not too bad then
15:24 goehle you could just make sure you put the color variables all in one spot
15:24 mgage_ administrators could produce a number of themes that instructors could choose from
15:26 goehle yeah.  the issue is, if we change the base theme somehow, then how does that propigate to the site specific themes
15:27 mgage_ yes.  and I don't have a thought out answer for that
15:27 goehle well, something to think about then
15:27 mgage_ yes -- and a good issue for 3.0 version I think
15:27 mgage_ or perhaps 2.1
15:27 mgage_ I mean 3.1
15:28 goehle one fancy way to do it would be to have the css compiled from less at page load time
15:28 goehle then the less variables could actually be stored as part of the database
15:29 goehle and changed more dynamically by the instructors/admins
15:29 goehle adds a lot more moving parts though.  Just sending out the css files is much quicker
15:30 mgage_ it's a possibility, but let's see if it's necessary
15:33 goehle looking at Dicks suggestions
15:33 goehle my first instinct is to not do anything about a bunch of them
15:34 goehle For 4), the courses link doesn't take up that much visual space, and is useful for instructors with more than one course.
15:34 goehle For 3), the show student answer check box works.  Is it necessary to change the default behavior?
15:35 mgage_ my first goal is to collect them in one place  -- (4) is a bit of an outlier
15:35 goehle 2) a) I'm pretty sure this is how it currently is
15:35 mgage_ but the behavior of hardcopy and showing solutions and hints is more central
15:35 goehle there are a couple of bugs pertaining to that
15:35 goehle I"ve been meaning to hunt those down
15:36 mgage_ for the default status of student answers -- I'd just like that bulleted and then we can crowd source the preferences -- I have a vague memory that there have been requests on both sides of that particular default.
15:37 mgage_ the interaction of hints, solutions and hardcopy is logistically complicated which is why I'd like a wiki page on the desired behavior then we can figure out how to program it
15:37 goehle ok
15:38 goehle I'll write up some wiki pages then
15:38 goehle the only one I really feel comfortable taking immediate action on is 1)
15:38 goehle the current behavior is a pre knowls thing
15:39 goehle when you either had the whole solution in your face, or you didn't have anything
15:39 mgage_ here is another thread on the print file paths issue:  http://webwork.maa.org/moodle/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=3127#p7744
15:40 goehle whats this issue?
15:40 goehle its not in the list
15:40 goehle ah
15:40 goehle thats trouble
15:41 mgage_ the discussion of when and/or if to include the file name path in hardcopy or when acting as a student --
15:41 goehle hmm
15:41 goehle well from a  programmer perspective
15:41 mgage_ there are a lot of variables here -- and the immediate goal is to sort out what is the desired behavior (or range of behaviors)
15:41 goehle when you are acting as a student you shoudl see what the student sees
15:42 goehle the problem is that everyone has a use case, and they can be contradictory
15:42 goehle some people want paths for troubleshooting, some people dont so they can print out stuff for students
15:42 mgage_ it's not that simple always -- often you are trying to trouble shoot the student's view and having some extra tools helps.
15:42 goehle how do you sort that out though
15:42 goehle I mean, does the loudest user get there way?
15:43 goehle their
15:43 mgage_ exactly -- so what i want is a wiki page of use cases so we can get them all in one place -- look at which cases can be accommodated simultaneously and which we'll just have to not address
15:43 goehle ok
15:44 goehle hmm, one wiki page for all of this, or should i seperate them
15:44 goehle so one page for homework sets editor issues
15:44 goehle one page for problem set issues
15:44 goehle one page for hardcopy issues, etc..
15:44 mgage_ mostly the person who is willing it do the fix get's their way :-)  -- but my plan was to try to put these all in one place and think about them for a bit -- and then make a considered choice.
15:44 goehle ok
15:44 mgage_ yes -- possibly even more divisions if that becomes useful.
15:45 mgage_ You can collect them by adding a category at the bottom of the page (you can see how it's done on existing pages)
15:46 mgage_ A  category is a kind of virtual directory -- but you can put a single file in many categories
15:47 goehle ah
15:47 goehle ok
15:47 goehle I was wondering about that
15:47 goehle another question :)  are you sure about merging 2.8 into master in 3 weeks
15:48 goehle I feel like its kind of quick.  We only really put together 2.8 last month
15:48 mgage_ no -- but I needed to set some kind of date.  release/2.8 has been running on testcourses for 2 months
15:49 goehle how about this
15:49 goehle 3 weeks and then there are absolutely no new features
15:49 goehle ( or even 4 weeks)
15:49 goehle then I'll load 2.8 onto our main campus server over the break
15:49 goehle and we can have a semester of enforced beta testing
15:49 mgage_ there is an issue that has just come up about slowness when many students are doing a gateway quiz on testcourses -- if that turns out to be due to 2.8 then I think we will hold off on the merge.
15:50 goehle hmm
15:50 goehle think its because of the new past answers thing
15:50 goehle that was a concern
15:51 mgage_ so we have been beta testing on testcourses and on my courses all of this semester.
15:51 mgage_ I don't know yet -- I'll send you the email -- but that needs to be sorted out before merging.
15:51 mgage_ smaller cosmetic things I'm not so worried about.
15:52 goehle my only concern is that people who run master don't update very often
15:52 goehle so bugs that get through master stick around for a while
15:52 goehle even if they are hotfixed
15:53 mgage_ I'd like to change that habit a bit -- the current trend in software is to update often
15:53 mgage_ in particular that will give us beta testing in a timely way.
15:54 goehle ok
15:54 mgage_ some issues that come up now were programmed two years ago -- that's too long a delay
15:54 goehle true enough
15:55 mgage_ and I grant that some balance has to be maintained so that people can trust updates reasonably well -- so we'll see I'd like to do a merge in early December if we can -- but if there are warning signs we'll put it off.
15:56 goehle that sounds fine
15:56 goehle I'll change over my school servers then
15:56 goehle and I'll just try and be quick abou tfixing things if htey come up
15:56 mgage_ that's always my strategy
15:57 goehle ok
15:57 goehle sounds good
15:57 mgage_ I'm also pleased that the ability to back out of most updates has vastly improved.
15:57 goehle true
15:57 goehle what should the category be called
15:57 mgage_ I've actually done that a few times -- updated in the middle of a semester and then backed out after a few hours when I saw errors that couldn't fix in a hurry.
15:58 goehle for the wiki pages
15:58 goehle now that i"ve gotten used to git, I do like it
15:59 goehle I've got to head off to class
15:59 goehle its been a productive chat
15:59 goehle I'll work on the wiki pages
15:59 mgage_ one could be "user stories"  -- there are already pages from AnnArbor with that theme
15:59 goehle and then either the solution bug, or some of the hardcopy stuff
15:59 goehle its more than user stories though
15:59 goehle design decisions?
16:00 goehle its specifying which user stories we are prioritizing, really
16:00 goehle anyway
16:00 goehle I'll think about it later
16:00 mgage_ another might be something that allows people to find out how a specific feature is supposed to work -- we get a bunch of questions just because someone had a different expectation.
16:00 mgage_ kk -- thanks for the help
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21:05 Paul_Pearson mgage Quick question: Will adding a problem to an open homework set corrupt the database?  Three students have begun the homework set I would like to add one problem to.
21:06 mgage not if you add it at the end.
21:06 Paul_Pearson Thanks :)
21:06 Paul_Pearson Happy Friday!
21:06 mgage you can even delete a homework problem but in that case DO NOT RENUMBER
21:07 Paul_Pearson OK.  Good to know.
21:07 mgage the difficulty is that the problems number is used as a primary key in the database -- so if you change the numbering all of the associated grade and past answer data gets screwed up.
21:07 mgage (moral -- never ever use something relevant as a uniqueID ! :-) )
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23:35 ionparticle hi, is there any way to force submit a gateway quiz that's overtime?
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