Tasks for v5

1. Todo

To do list for completing v5 as a public release

2. Help needed

I could really use help for a few very specific tasks. There are browser-related Script-issues, and the proofreading of the patch.

Icons: I have asked for new icons on the new objects (intercom device, recorder, Educenter, Trashbin etc. ), but haven't heard back yet. I really like Jan Rune's icons. But I noticed he proposed getting a graphic designer to redo all the icons (Cynthia's digest of a session at the annual consortium meeting which I couldn't attend). I don't know how what the consortium thinks.

3. Language packages: translation

Translation into different languages would really help. I can contribute with a few, but languages like Arabic are outside the realm of my wisdom. I have got no responses on earlier calls for help here. We should ask people directly and personnally.

If Arabic is a language of increasing interest in the US, we should be translating the language files ASAP into Arabic in order to be able to present v5 to customers who want to use it (universities etc.). If no volunteers volunteer, this could even be a paid-for translation.

4. Available tasks: possible student assignements

I have sketched out these tasks as student assignments. I'd be happy to [co-] supervise them as assignments, or to be part of a group that discusses these topics.

1. enCore goes XML

Background: The enCore MOO web server produces validated XHMTL source code for the pages it is serving. There has been discussions about making enCore serve xml/application data as source code in order to better make the contents produced in the platform compatible (and dumpable) to other learning environments.

Task 1: Create an enCore object "$xml_note" (child of $note), which is served as XML by the MOO web server, and which has an editing GUI. Discuss object orientation (inheritance) in MOO and XML.

Task 2: Discuss the latest movements in e-learning standards and research and enCore's current, and possible, position in this matter. Include a discussion about XHMTL vs. XML vs. "tag soup". Conclude with recommendations at what level on the platform, and to what benefit, the XML-feature(s) could and should be applied (dumping, but also RSS/ATOM/Syndication, possibly others).

2. enCore goes WAI

Background: enCore has moved to XHTML for better standard compliance. enCore v5 has a new chat applet which puts all synchrounous user output into an HMTL file rather than in a java applet. This should imply easier accessibility for reading impaired (blind) users. On the other hand, enCore is making an effort to expand on the "e- learning marked", and the whole platform would benefit from documentation, and enhancements, WAI-wise. The course leaders may assist in arranging contact with blind students.

Task 1: Put to the proof the WAI compliance of enCore v5 (go through the pages served and study WAI-level and requirements). Conclude with recommendations what can and what should be changed, and what not, and why. Optionally: Compare this study to a another, similar study on WAI compliance of a learning platform of your choice (this other study can be performed by the students themselves, or taken from elsewhere).

Task 2: Discuss what happened when the one-window text-based virtual world made the step to an integrated web- application. How do disabled (visually impaired) people orient in a virtually mediated environment that is initially and conceptually spatial? What happens when the one-window concept is broken?

3. enCore goes SMTP

Background: The enCore platform sends both internal messages (so-called MOO mail and Forum messages), and outgoing mesasges (internet email). Ten years ago, when the MOO objects $network and $mail_agent were created, all there was to send was plain ASCII text. Nowadays, the inclusion of style sheets and HTML tags in both mail messages and MOO documents (like recorder logs) makes those hard to read when sent as plain ASCII text. There should be a feature to send tagged texts as email attachment, and/or mark them as HTML- mail.

Task:Rewrite (parts of) the $network and $mail_agent objects to allow attachments in mail. Consider automatic detection and manual setting. Discuss, install and test different measures of virus protection (virus scan on platform/on server, malicious tag removal, etc.).

4. enCore goes binaries

Background: The $httpd object (the MOO web server) can handle GET and POST requests. It cannot, as of today, handle attachments or binary data. The Lingo project has developped a long longed-for upload feature (HTTP-upload) in order for users to upload relevant files to a web server (document root). This module is based on PHP (Pear) and thus needs it to be installed on the main server.

Task:Rewrite the $httpd object to allow binary data in POST form requests to be written to user files within the enCore folder on the server. Consider integration with in-MOO contents and resources (tabularization of resources, possibly XML-based). This task should not be conducted without (some of) the expertise gained from project 2 (XML).

5. enCore goes sysadmin

Background: The enCore platform allows users to act as wizards and to perform actions with huge impact on the virtual world. But often, these wizards are RL teachers, and do not have neither the knowledge, nor the access, to perform action on the server where the platform is living. There are a few functions which the enCore community could wish were accessible from within the MOO. The enCore database (through the $administration_module) is able to set some properties on the MOO server, and, in turn, possibly on the main server, but this could be explored further.

Task: Expand the $administration_module for wizards to

Discuss relevant security issues and implications as to root/sudo access.

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