Development update: March 2024

Here’s a development update, covering everything that’s changed since November.

Most of my work has been on adding LTI 1.3 support to the Numbas LTI provider. We hope to have that ready to use by the summer, in time for the next academic year.

The rest of the development work has been mainly bug fixes, with a couple of new features in the Numbas runtime.

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Development update: November 2023

Here’s a development update, covering everything that’s changed since July.

I spent a lot of time on the Summer working on our other project, Chirun. I wrote a new LTI 1.3-compliant tool, to make it easier to embed Chirun material in our virtual learning environment. That’s now in use at Newcastle, and I’m looking for other institutions to test it with virtual learning environments other than Canvas or Moodle. Our intention is to make our server available to everyone, since it won’t handle any personally identifying information.

So it’s been a while since I had time to do a Numbas development update. There have been quite a few bug fixes and an encouraging number of contributions from other people. The main news is that the Numbas runtime is now WCAG 2.1 AAA compliant.

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Development update: July 2023

Here’s a development update, covering everything since the release of Numbas v7 last December.

Progress on Numbas has continued fairly quietly, while I’ve had to split my attention between this, Chirun, and other stuff at Newcastle.

I gave a talk at EAMS 2023 with an update on developments over the last year:

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Numbas v7 and our own lockdown app

Collage of screenshots showing new Numbas features

It’s been a while since our last development update. The reason for that is that we’ve been working on some big changes to every bit of the Numbas software. We’ve released v7 of the Numbas app and editor, and a new lockdown app to integrate with the LTI provider which ensures that students can only access assessments in a restricted environment. There’s also a Safe Exam Browser integration, for in-person invigilated exams.

Laura Midgley has joined the team, replacing George Stagg, who left for an exciting job with RStudio.

Four people stood in a line, facing the camera
The e-learning unit now: from left to right, Chris Graham, Christian Lawson-Perfect, Laura Midgley and Aamir Khan.
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Development update: August 2022

Sorry for the long gap since the last development update: the user meeting, EAMS, and work at Newcastle have consumed all of my time. Now it’s the summer, and I can take a moment to reflect on what I’ve done since March.

We had two student interns working for us for a couple of weeks in July: Will McNestry and Aleksas Bagdonas. They each contributed a few new features to the Numbas runtime, tackling some things that had been on the to-do list for a while.

I’ve mainly spent my time trudging through the ever-growing list of issues on GitHub, adding features and fixing long-standing bugs.

George Stagg left us at the end of June to work at RStudio. We’re interviewing his replacement in a couple of weeks – the new role will have a lot more time dedicated to Numbas development.

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Development update: March 2022

Here’s an update on Numbas development, covering December 2021 to March 2022. Sorry about the long gap between posts – holidays, strikes, exams and finally catching covid didn’t leave me much time for blogging!

In February, I wrote about our new extension for assessing programming. In order to implement this, I added a framework for running asynchronous tasks before marking a question part, and for defining new kinds of input method. These should both open up all sorts of possibilities beyond the programming extension.

In the editor, I’ve been working on adding a “queues” feature to projects. The main motivation is to support the Open Resource Library, but I’ve already thought of a few other use cases for it.

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Numbas LTI provider v3.0

We’ve just released the next major version of the Numbas LTI provider: v3.0.

The main impetus for moving to a new major version was to get up to date with the third-party libraries that the LTI provider relies on; there were a few big changes in the way they worked, so working with the latest versions involved rewriting a lot of code.

However, I’ve also taken the opportunity to add a few new features, and to work through a lot of bug reports and interface improvements in the issue tracker.

We’ve been running v3.0 here at Newcastle for a couple of months, and it’s proved significantly more reliable than v2.

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Development update: November 2021

Here’s an update on Numbas development, covering July to November 2021.

I’ve been working on a big update to the Numbas LTI provider, which is pretty much ready but I’d like to test on a few different systems before recommending everyone upgrades.

Other notable additions recently include autocompletion in the editor when writing JME expressions, and variables are automatically added to the Variables tab after you write a reference to them anywhere in the question. These changes should make writing questions quite a bit easier, especially for new authors!

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Improvements to the JSXGraph extension

Last week was the second International JSXGraph Conference. Numbas has had an extension to integrate JSXGraph for over 10 years, since the very start, but I haven’t done much with it, so I submitted a talk proposal to pressure myself into doing something.

That tactic worked – as the conference approached I spent a few days working on the extension, adding the ability to use JSXGraph diagrams in marking, just like you can with the GeoGebra extension.

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