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In the past 2 years, the e-Learning market has been exploding. Online Learning Management Systems (LMS) have become very popular, to build e-learning platforms.

They not only offer text based content, quizzes, assignment management, course evaluation, social features, but also allow the integration of video, audio and other linked content.  Many support SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model), allowing the exchange of learning content and results.

THE LMS UNIVERSE

Over the past few years, I have been helping clients to build or transform their e-learning platforms.  Sometimes its better to build a customized LMS solution from scratch :), than tweak or customize an offered solution. It all depends on the features you want to see integrated and on the budget available ;)

In this article I want to share current solutions offered for WordPress.

I will divide them into themes and plugins for now. In the future I plan do some feature comparison as well :

  • Theme based or Standalone Plugin (standalone might be preferred)
  • Course functionality (course, units, quizzes sections …)
  • Course linking / Course Groups / Exclusive courses
  • Course categories
  • Course Evaluation
  • Course curriculum
  • Course timeline
  • Course reviews & ratings
  • Course Stats
  • Free courses
  • Variable pricing
  • Course notes / Comments
  • Course Admin area
  • Course Frontend creation
  • Assignment functionality
  • Certificates
  • Messaging
  • Custom Email Templates
  • Course Events
  • BuddyPress Integration
  • BBPress Integration
  • WooCommerce integration
  • Import & Export functionality
  • Login
  • Student profiles
  • Instructor frontend interface

 

PLUGINS

These are standalone plugins, that provide LMS functionality and integrate into your WordPress themes. Ease of integration and options differ.

  1. LearnDash
  2. Sensei
  3. LearnPress  (new – 2015)
  4. WP Courseware
  5. LifterLMS
  6. Namaste! LMS
  7. CoursePress

THEMES

These themes mostly dependent on one of the plugins above or offer only a simple subset of LMS functionality.

  1. eLearning WP (new – 2015 / LearnPress)
  2. Derrick
  3. Guru
  4. Academy
  5. LMS
  6. Clever Course
  7. LMS Press
  8. EduLMS
  9. Skillfully
  10. iKnow
  11. University
  12. Invent
  13. Sensei themes
  14. Clever Course

THEME & PLUGIN

Integrated solutions,  that are supposed to offer a tight integration of WordPress, theme and its own plugins.

  1. WPLMS (started the revolution at Envato)
    One thing that sets WPLMS apart from many of the above is the frontend interface. So instructor tasks happen on the frontend not in the WP Admin. Also when it comes to assignments, WPLMS is currently the best solution. Even if the assignment management is not yet perfect, its better than what many of the other solutions offer.

Enjoy coding …

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Here we go, WordPress 4.4 is available …

Changelog

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Really neat solution, that allows you to build a quick viewport based layout, without relying on the still buggy CSS units.

Also works nicely in combination with Visual Composer for WordPress :)

vUnit @ Github

Enjoy coding …

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“WP-CLI is a set of command-line tools for managing WordPress installations”

 

WP-CLI

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Using WordPress as a headless system, is nothing new. You can easily build out your own REST API or use the long available HTTP REST API 1.0+ for WordPress.

But with the new HTTP REST API 2.0+ its getting really easy to build out your own REST API Namespace and assign routes for all your JSON needs.

The new REST API will make its appearance in WordPress 4.4, but you can start now by adding the plugin to your system. When the plugin detects 4.4+ it will only load functionality not already present in the core.

A ROUTE

A route tells the API to respond to a given request with a specific function (endpoint). This adds the permalink structure to WordPress so that your functionality can be accessed via an url like this: http://yourdoman.com/wp-json/yourplugin/v1/myfunction/your_parameter 

THE ENDPOINT

The Endpoint is the callback handled by the route. Each endpoint can have additional parameters attached:

  1. custom permissions
  2. default values
  3. sanitization callback
  4. validation callback
  5. field requirements and more

RETURN VALUE

The return values from the endpoint are converted into JSON. You can use the WP_REST_Response object , this wraps normal body data and allows you to return a custom status code.

Really powerful stuff, that makes it easy to detach WordPress and the actual client using the data provided by it.

You can read more about it here.

Enjoy coding …

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Some options to get those translatable strings out of your templates. I will be adding new things, as I discover them :)

  1. xgettext-templateHandlebars & Swig
  2. gettext-twig – {% trans “string here” %}
  3. rtwix – Ruby based TWIG translations extractor
  4. twig-po – Extract translation keys from twig templates and move them to PO
  5. Twig-Gettext-Extractor –  tool which extracts translations from twig templates

Enjoy coding …

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31. October 2015

Timber , TWIG & PoEdit

Timber / Twig templates are normally not recognized by Poedit. Its just a matter of tweaking the C/C++ extractor within the settings panel.

Add TWIG to the filetypes: *.c;*.cpp;*.h;*.hpp;*.cc;*.C;*.cxx;*.hxx;*.twig

Gettext calls, like {{__(“Points Conversion Rate”, “wplms-extras”)}} in Timber, are being extracted from your templates after that.

Easier than using the gettext extractor :)

ADDING GETTEXT FUNCTION TO TWIG

 

Enjoy coding …

 

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I am currently working on a WPLMS enhancement for a customer, that allows to simplify the payout of instructor commissions. The whole system runs on the MyCred Points System and students pay for courses with Points. The problem is how to easily payout the instructor commissions via PayPal.

There is currently no addon for MyCred available that does that magic, so I build one myself.

At the moment the payment process via PayPal is completely manual, due to budget constraints. I am basically generating a custom “Send Money” link that prefills the PayPal email and amount to send.

The interface itself handles the payout sessions, tracks the instructor balance, paid and unpaid points.

Here some images to illustrate the admin dashboard:

wplms_points_payout

This list the instructors and their point balance and allows to start the payment process.

wplms_points_payout2

Payout sessions make sure, that only one session can be started per instructor, as the instructor could earn new points during the process. The points converted can be changed, allowing you to payout a fixed amount of points.

Its a 3 step process. Login at PayPal. Open the “Send money” dialog and send money to instructor. Confirm that you manually send the money and than register the payment and payout points in the system.

wplms_points_payout3

The session can be cancelled at any point. You can also leave the session open and continue at a later point.

wplms_points_payout4

On the frontend I added an interface to the BuddyPress Profile, that allows the instructor to track his payouts and balance.

wplms_points_payout5

The whole setup could be updated using PayPal Adaptive Payments, to make the whole process completely automated. Something to consider for the future :) Pretty happy with the manual process so far and it will be a great help for my customer to keep track of the commission payouts.

The whole setup is currently targeted for WPLMS, but can easily be adapted to other setups using the MyCred Points System.

Enjoy coding …

 

 

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HyperDB is a plugin for spreading your websites load across several servers and databases. Its currently used in production on WordPress.com.

  1. Partitioning, separate your data and spread it across multiple servers.
  2. Replication, master / slave setup for security.
  3. Failover, if one database fails, the other takes over.

Just started experimenting with it :)

HyperDB

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Since version 5.6PHP is verifying peer certificates and host names by default when using SSL/TLS. This is causing problems on some servers / websites, where the config has not been setup correctly. If you can not fix the setup yourself, make sure to talk to your server host to fix that issue.

For PHPMailer (Github) there is a workaround:

This should only be a workaround until your configuration has been fixed. You are suppressing certificate verification and compromising your security!

As WordPress is using PHPMailer as its main email library, this can be tweaked by using the phpmailer_init hook:

Add this to your themes functions.php.

BASIC PHPMAILER SETUP

And here is how phpmailer->smtpOptions should be used,  on a properly configured server:

SSL changes in PHP 5.6: http://php.net/manual/en/migration56.openssl.php
SSL context options in PHP: http://php.net/manual/en/context.ssl.php

Enjoy coding…

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