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Archive for March, 2008

Dokeos in the Galapagos Islands

March 28, 2008 6 comments

I´m currently on holiday in the Galapagos Islands (for 3 more days). The weather is excellent and the local wildlife is just as expected, wonderful. If anybody wants to contact me here about Dokeos, I´m in Puerto Ayora, hostal Los Amigos, room 1.

A few pictures, in no particular order…


Sea Iguanas in the Galapagos

Giant Land Turtles Mating in the Galapagos

Dolphin Swimming in the Galapagos

Dokeos t-shirt in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos

Baby Sea Lions Swimming in the Galapagos

Categories: English, General

Evolution mail – Adding (tiny) picture to e-mail headers

In the Evolution e-mail client (and groupware) application, there is a plugin called “Face” (or “Portrait”) in French. Sadly, it doesn’t give much detail, except that it’s used to display a small face of the e-mail sender, if you make a 48×48 PNG portrait and encode it to base64.

I found the documentation particularly bad, so here is mine:

  1. make a 48×48 pixels portrait of your face and save it as PNG
  2. you have to reduce it to less than 720 bytes (yes, bytes), so:
  3. open it with Gimp
  4. change mode: Image -> Mode -> Indexed colors
  5. use less than 15 colors (otherwise the picture will take too much space)
  6. save the file again, not using Adam7, not recording resolution and not recording any info

Once you managed to reduce it to the right size, open a new e-mail composer and select “Insert -> Face” then pick your picture up. Send the e-mail. There you go…

Apparently you have to “insert face” each time you want to do that. There must be an option somewhere to attach it everytime but I couldn’t find it this time.

Categories: Development, English

DLTT and unicode languages

March 16, 2008 2 comments

Translations are an important part of the Dokeos offer. The interface is translated, to date, in more than 34 languages. Of course, these translations vary in quality and completeness, but we are trying to provide you the best tools to help us get them better.

That’s why, around 2 years ago, we have created the DLTT (Dokeos Language Translation Tool). First created by Patrick Cool, it now has more than 1400 translators registered, who frequently translate a bit of the english (or any other) language variables into their own language.

To register to the DLTT, you need to ask for a login and be approved by one of our team members (obviously, we are trying to avoid any spammers/hackers by checking the requests manually).

You can do this by going to the DLTT homepage and clicking the “Create an account here” link just below the login box. You will then be asked for some details and, more importantly, the languages you want to translate from and to. Once you’re done with that, your registration will need to be approved and you will receive an e-mail once this has been done.

If you want to start translating now, you should preferably start with a “_unicode” suffix language, as these will use the utf-8 character set, which is better for international tools like Dokeos. If there is not _unicode type language in the list for the language you want to translate, you can either choose to join the translators of the existing language, or ask for the new language to be created, by sending us an e-mail (our contact e-mail address is at the bottom of the page). Please make sure you mention [DLTT] in the subject of your e-mail.

Recently, I have been improving the language packages generation process, and made it go from an initial generation time of about 2 minutes to an acceptable 15 seconds. This feature allows us developers to import the new translations into Dokeos.

Although we don’t have a fully featured double-translation option, where you can translate something in one language and it gets automatically translated in the unicode version, we will be working on that in the future. As for now, Dokeos works in UTF-8 (you have to change the character set option in the administration panel) but you will have to modify a few things by yourself (add the unicode languages to the languages table in the main database and activate them in the administration panel), but it isn’t an officially supported option just yet. If you try that, you shouldn’t mix UTF-8 character set languages with non-UTF-8 character sets (like offer your portal in chinese_unicode *and* italian ISO-8859-15) as this will break either one or the other language.

Categories: Development, English

iCal exports for course and personal events

March 14, 2008 2 comments

A customer recently hired us to develop an iCal export for the Dokeos agenda tool. I first thought it would be a quickie, but analysing the related iCal RFC, I must say it suddendly looks much more impressive.

Looking around a bit, I realised that

  • PEAR and PECL don’t offer any class that allow for full iCal manipulation
  • WebCalendar had a crappy code structure (nothing making it practical to integrate into Dokeos for simple import/export functionalities)
  • phpicalendar didn’t offer an export feature (just reading and parsing)
  • iCalcreator is a one class package that allows for iCal, vCal, vEvent, vAlarm, … import *and* export, making it ideal to include into Dokeos

Once the iCalcreator class has been included, the remaining work consists of

  • creating a script that exports a given event, using the class
  • adding a link to each event
Export as iCal icons

These three icons, located next to any calendar event, represent the three privacy levels “Confidential”,”Private” and “Public” you can get with iCal (but that you don’t have in Dokeos). Clicking one of the icons should prompt you for an iCal file download.

I guess it’s not even worth mentioning I’m not very good at graphical design…

Categories: Development, Dokkeos, English, Techie Tags: , ,

Videoconference 2.0 released

March 10, 2008 2 comments

That’s it, you can officially download the videoconference tool, in its second version, from the Dokeos website’s download page

Dokeos videoconference 2.0

The interface is available in French, English, Spanish and German (and possibly others if you know where to download the translation files).

This tool is embedded into Dokeos, so you can’t (easily) use it without a Dokeos 1.8.4 install.

Extensible user data fields

During the 3 coming days, I will be developing a feature for Dokeos that allows a Dokeos administrator to add data to users’ profiles. For example, you will be able to add an age (or better, a date of birth), a sex, a mother tongue, etc. Whatever you want, basically.

Once these fields are setup and filled, you will be able to limit the statistic results to only a subset of users (i.e. the ones between 20 and 40 years old, with Spanish as a mother tongue)  and restrict the entrance to tests based on these criterias.

This will be achieved by adding a set of 3 tables to the main database: user_data, user_data_field, and user_data_field_values.

  • user_data will contain the data itself (a key pointing to the user, a key pointing to the field in user_data_fields)
  • user_data_field will contain the fields description (name of field, type of data it contains, etc)
  • user_data_field_values will contain the values for the fields that offer a choice of predefined values, and a pointer to the user_data_field table

We expect the first integration to be functional in Dokeos 1.8.5, although maybe not as well documented as we would like (otherwise we’ll never release Dokeos 1.8.5).

This goes right in the line of  developments to increase the help-HR capabilities of Dokeos.

Sourceforge SVN password denied

This week-end, in an unprecedented funny mood swing, SourceForge decided to make all passwords expired, which means that if you try to commit something to your SVN (and I guess CVS) repository, you will be asked for your password, which will then be refused without much of an explanation in SVN itself.

You have to log on to http://www.sourceforge.net and change your password there. Only then will you be able to update SVN. Oh, and you have to wait for about 10 minutes in some cases for the change to take place.

Categories: Development, English Tags:

Linux Week in Lima

March 9, 2008 3 comments

Next week (from 2008-03-10 to 2008-03-14), the Linux Week event is taking place in Lima. There are a few presentations of direct interest for me, like, on Monday: Desarrollo de Aplicaciones Web con Eclipse and Desarrollo de Aplicaciones Web con PHP; on Tuesday: Drupal, más que un CMS and Aula Virtual: Sistema de videoconferencia avanzada para la web; and finally on Thursday: Aplicaciones Web de Alta Disponibilidad con Apache y PHP

The entrance is free (like in speech and beer) and it is happening in the Universidad Catolica, which is one of the biggest of Lima (yes, they have a real-size campus), and is located just at the limit between the districts of San Miguel and Pueblo Libre. All the talks are in Spanish though.

2008-03-11 update: After two evenings of assisting the event, I think I can say it’s pretty much all introduction level. Introduction to open source, introduction to wireless networks, introduction to distributed logs management, etc. Not much worth my time for the contents themselves. Luckily, some of the speakers are promising. Like Marco Villegas, which apparently is also a Drupal developer, and is one initiator of a Peruvian group for Drupal developers.

Also, I’ve indirectly provoked (but not initiated – Diego Escalante kindly took the responsibility to do so) a set of very nervous questions and answers geared towards the difference in conceptions of the need to publish or make available in any way the source code of a GPL application. The talk was given by Alfred Kobayashi from E-volution Hypermedia, in Trujillo, who talked for half an hour about the good things of open-source software before admitting that the software they were developing (an event organiser) using so many open-source pieces of software was in GPL but that you couldn’t get its sources unless you paid the normal product price. In fact, the preamble to the license is the only part where something is said about some kind of obligation to make the code available on request, but it is only applicable to people having received a version of the software. So following the license, he was right, but that didn’t really make the audience less nervous about it. It’s true that for a GPL-software developer that publishes his work, it’s a bit hard to take that another developer uses his work to do other work that he licenses as GPL but keeps the code inaccessible to non-clients. But hey, these are the licensing terms…

Where it ceased to be that clever is when Alfred tried to argue that the code was not published because:

  1. it was their economic model, so basically they are basing their economic model on something that could change from one day to the other (any client could publish the code, thus reducing the economic model to dust)
  2. it was not mature enough (code-wise) to release, so the image of the company would be affected, yet the presentation was all about coding standards and how coding using XP or UML techniques was so much better.
  3. they were involved in open-source so much that they *had* to make it GPL, philosophically (Alfred is a high ranking member of the APESOL apparently – yet another open-source association in Perú)

Event Involucrate+GNOME in Lima

I did a little show on the Dokeos community and how to contribute to Dokeos today, at the Involucrate+ GNOME event in Lima, in the Universidad Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Although it is a GNOME centered event, they also took the opportunity that I was in Peru to invite me.

Anyway, the presentation is in Spanish but it is available here

At the event, I met (although very shortly) with the other speakers Fernando San Martín Woerner, a gringo-looking guy from Chile who’s look came from german roots, with Jesús Castagnetto (one of the founders of the PEAR project) and with the organisors Diego Escalante Urrelo and Santiago Gonzales Sánchez. Nice people over all. It was more than anything an open-source conference, so the focus was less on education and more on open-source communities than the previous talks I’ve given in Peru, and in the end the atmosphere was more relaxed.

I’ve also gotten invited to make a talk at the FLISOL this year, which apparently is a much bigger show, still focused on open-source software, but this time focused on education. As I might have to compete with the usual suspects there (Moodle and maybe Claroline), I think I’ll try something more dynamic, where people feel the need to try Dokeos because it’s fun… We’ll see what I can manage.

Categories: Conferences, Dokkeos, English, Talks

Dokeos goes medical

Dokeos is now entering the world of large medical and pharmaceutical companies. We are glad to finally getting to this step in our software evolution. For years now, we have been working hard to provide a quality piece of software, completely open-source, and it is finally getting recognition from large and demanding companies – medical companies generally having an approval process that is much more demanding than companies in other areas – that understand its capabilities and its added value.

Thomas, the manager of the Dokeos root company, in Belgium, has updated our customers page today to reflect this change in market trends. For us, having a large list of large companies as direct clients means that the word of mouth is now that we provide a reliable service and that Dokeos is a software and a company you can trust.

With a new orientation towards connectivity to HR systems, Dokeos has now entered the big fishes world with both feet.

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