Totara HQ have announced that from 2016 it will be forking from Moodle, meaning that it will no longer be in lockstep with core Moodle.
Several factors have influenced this decision, which are summarised below:
A benefit of open source software is the ability to extend the code base of an application and develop it in a new direction. Over the past few years Totara has added more than 450,000 lines of code comprising a series of modular, interwoven extensions layered on top of a standard Moodle. All the additional features reflect the different needs of the Totara user community and Totara LMS is now almost unrecognisable from a standard Moodle installation. A lot of care has been taken to achieve these results with minimal alterations to Moodle’s core codebase. That policy has been beneficial to both projects. However it also comes with constraints, particularly with some feature requests such as multi-tenancy. To do this well requires deep architectural changes. Overall, to continue, and accelerate Totara's rate of innovation there is a need to start diverging the base platforms.
2 Modernising the platform
There is a view that the current product needs a significant investment in the overall UX. Due to the following point regarding collaboration Totara is unable to make this investment without diverging from Moodle. The 2016 release will have a major focus on improving the UX design and overall quality assurance.
As Richard Wyles, CEO of Totara states; "We have been unable to establish any formal collaborative arrangement between Totara Learning and Moodle Pty Ltd."
4 Who’s forking who
Richard Wyles comments; "The leadership of Moodle Pty Ltd has made it clear to us that it is their intent to clone recent Totara LMS versions to offer the market ‘Moodle for Workplace.’ In contrast to the millions of dollars of investment and hundreds of thousands of lines of code that we’ve developed to create Totara LMS, cloning in itself does not add further value and does not present a sustainable strategy. Conversely, if Moodle HQ forks Totara LMS to create an ongoing Moodle variant for workplace learning, and they invest in that branch and support it, then this provides customers with more options from which to select. It is my view that the team at Totara Learning are more closely focused on the needs of corporate users, and that our partnership and support models are more aligned to successful outcomes for partners and customers alike."
The last version release (2.9) that will fully merge the Moodle codebase will be released in October 2015. Following this, the 2016 release of Totara LMS will be named Totara LMS v9.0 (it will be the 9th major release). For more details on the features of this release click here.
If you have any queries on the changes or if you wish to upgrade your site from Moodle to Totara LMS get in touch to speak to one of our experts.