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Fall 2014 Project List

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There was a lot of work done on MarkUs this summer. (Thanks David, Lawrence, Eugene, Ealona, Su, Mark, and Angelo!)  The strange thing about getting lots done is that it is more obvious what needs to be done next, so I have a long list of potential projects for the fall.

1. React tables for spreadsheets, repo browser, and refactoring #1696 (large)
This summer Lawrence made some major changes to how tables are implemented in MarkUs. The biggest change was to use the React JS library to implement the tables. This got rid of a lot of Prototype code, and made it possible to do better sorting and filtering on the tables. Two tables remain to be converted: the repo browser and the spreadsheet. There is also some refactoring work to do, now that we know better how React works. Also, there is some remaining styling work for the new tables.

2. Get rid of the rest of Prototype #1496 (small)
We have slowly been removing all the Prototype code, and replacing it with JQuery. Aside from the tables that still need to be converted to use React, there are still a few places where Prototype has not been fully replaced. This would be a good project for a student with an interest in learning (more) Javascript/JQuery.

3. Git backend #1698 (large)
MarkUs stores student submitted files in subversion. Instructors have the option allowing students to submit files through the web interface, or may disable the web interface and require that students use subversion directly to submit their work. One repo is created per student or per group, if groups are allowed. Each assignment is a directory in a repo, and MarkUs tries to reuse repos where possible.
We are in the process of adding support to store student submissions in git repos, while at the same time maintaining support for subversion. Because git and subversion have quite different models, this task is more involved that it first appears. Much work has been done on this in the past; new students will spend some time reviewing the existing progress for this feature.

4. Refactor the Admin Dashboard #1668
Reloading the graphs takes too long and isn’t really necessary (medium)
The Dashboard view has graphs that show the mark distribution for each assignment. They take some time to load and aren’t really that useful to the administrators. It is nice to get some summary information, but we need to rethink what the best summary data is to display and how to do it. This will be partially a UI design project since we need to rethink the purpose of the dashboard view and what information is most useful to display.

5. Rails 4.0 upgrade (medium?)
Mark Rada began the work of upgrading from Rails 3 to Rails 4 this summer. He did some great work on strong parameters, but there are other parts of the upgrade process that still need work. This project would be a great one for students with some understanding of Rails, and have an interest in how the Rails framework works.

6. PDFs – is there a better library to use? (research: small; implementation: large)
Students may submit PDF files. MarkUs converts theses files to jpegs (using Ghostscript) so that the images are a fixed size to facilitate annotation. It is time to do some research to see if better options are available. The goal is to maintain support for annotating PDF files without needing to convert the files. Actually switching to a new PDF option will probably require multiple terms/students.

7. Rspec tests (large, but an ongoing effort)
This summer saw a major effort to change to Rspec tests. Ealona and Su wrote a guide to writing Rspec tests, and have done a fair bit of work implementing some Rspec tests. A goal of this term is to have everyone on the team write some Rspec tests. It will be a good way to really learn what the models and controllers are supposed to do, and will move the project forward. We plan to set aside a few hours at the sprint for writing tests. There are some outstanding Github issues related to missing tests that can easily be closed with some work.

8. Tagging student submissions #886 #325 (medium?)
This is a feature request that we hope will satisfy several use cases. Instructors and TAs have asked for a way to flag assignments to bring them to someone’s attention. TAs have also asked for a way to categorize the submissions so that they can do a quick first pass over them. The ability for adding general tags to student submissions will hopefully solve a number of these kinds of issues.

9. Summary page of all the marks for all students (smallish)
There is currently no view that combines marks from all of the different assignments and spreadsheets. This table would look a lot like the Submissions table or the Summaries table, but would have one column for each assignment and spreadsheet. A new feature would be a way for the administrator to specify a weighting for each piece of work to produce a total. (Good for someone not familiar with Rails.)

10 MathJax support for annotations? #285 (medium?)
It would be nice to be able to use math symbols in annotations. The MathJax library seems to be what we want, and some work has been done on this.

11. UX Refresh of the submissions table (Includes #75) (medium)
We haven’t taken a serious look at what is in the submission table for a long time. For example, we probably don’t need the “can begin grading” field. We would also like to be able to show the grader(s) for each group.

12. Section due dates don’t work #1676 (small)
Some courses would like to have a different due date for each section. This feature seems to have numerous problems with it. There is also a proposal to change the UI for how sections are added.

Written by Markus

September 2nd, 2014 at 6:50 pm

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