Things I learned upgrading to Moodle 3.3

Source: Technology and Learning: Things I learned upgrading to Moodle 3.3

My PhotoMike Churchward is the Executive Director of POET.


As the Moodle 3.3 launch approached, I decided to check on a few of my plugins and ensure they were ready for 3.3.

The good news is that having had everything pretty much up to 3.2 standards, the effort to reach 3.3 was minimal. In fact, with the two plugins I worked on for the coveted “Early bird 3.3” award, questionnaire module and oembed filter, I could have submitted them as is and they would have passed fine. But, that’s not my way, and besides, it would have made this post even shorter than it is.

For the questionnaire module, I first installed the 3.2 version on a new Moodle 3.3 test site, and ran the unit tests and Behat tests. Having automated testing is a great way to manage upgrading, as these tests will hopefully uncover any problems introduced by the Moodle upgrade or by any changes made to the plugin for the new version. In the questionnaire case, I had made a number of improvements to the code, continuing my efforts of paying down “technical debt” and making the code easier to maintain going forward.

The unit tests ran fine, but the Behat tests failed. Additionally, there were messages being kicked out by the developer level debugging.

There were two issues in Behat  I needed to fix. The first is a change to the Behat tests in Moodle 3.3. Where previously a step would say:

‘And I follow “Course 1″‘ 

For 3.3, they need to say:

‘And I am on “Course 1” course homepage’

This is due to the new course dashboard introduced in 3.3 that replaces some of the navigation in 3.2.

The other issue I needed to change was places that would say:

‘I navigate to “Questions” node in “Questionnaire administration”‘

Now need to say:

‘I navigate to “Questions” in current page administration’

This was actually a change in 3.2 that didn’t affect me until 3.3. I believe I was supposed to have made the change in 3.2, but now it is mandatory.

Making those changes fixed the Behat errors.

The debugging warning I was getting was:

pix_url is deprecated. Use image_url for images and pix_icon for icons.
line 267 of /lib/outputrenderers.php: call to debugging()
line 182 of /mod/questionnaire/classes/questions_form.php: call to renderer_base->pix_url()
line 204 of /lib/formslib.php: call to mod_questionnaire_questions_form->definition()
line 32 of /mod/questionnaire/classes/questions_form.php: call to moodleform->__construct()
line 153 of /mod/questionnaire/questions.php: call to mod_questionnaire_questions_form->__construct()

This is telling me that places I am using the function pix_url will eventually (in some future release) fail. And they should be replaced with either pix_icon or image_url. For my case, image_url is the easiest and correct fix. The previous function, pix_url, returned an URL to be used in the output. The new function, image_url, likewise returns an URL. The new function pix_icon returns the entire line of code including the image tags. Using it would require a significant amount or re-coding, and in reality, I am not using icons.

Once I have completed those changes, everything seems fine with questionnaire.

For the Oembed filter, I ran into Behat issues caused by the HTML that is output with 3.3. There has been changes made to some of the core editing features, that changed the xpath layout for the Oembed editing page. As such, I was getting an error like:

001 Scenario: Admin user carries out various provider management tasks. # /Users/mikechurchward/www/moodlehq.git/filter/oembed/tests/behat/management.feature:26
And the provider “Vimeo” is disabled                              # /Users/mikechurchward/www/moodlehq.git/filter/oembed/tests/behat/management.feature:36
The “//td/a[text()=’Vimeo’]/parent::td/div/a[contains(@class,’filter-oembed-visibility’)]/i[@title=’Show’]” element does not exist and should exist (Behat\Mink\Exception\ExpectationException)

The Behat tests for the filter had a custom test called “the_provider_is_disabled” which depended on a specific xpath output that was now no longer happening. This required me to rewrite the Behat function to change the xpathdefinition to reflect the new output. Manual testing of the function proved that the actual functionality had not been broken, and once the new xpath definition was in place, the Behat tests passed as well.

And that was it. Both plugins were ready for 3.3 and made it in time to get the early bird award. As I continue with other plugins, I will document any new changes required by 3.3 I find in new posts.

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