Not so crazy about Moodle? Try Chamilo

Moodle, Moodle, Moodle. It’s popular. It has helped many people quickly set up their company’s web-based training. But truth be told, it doesn’t really do much for me. I have never found it fun or sexy or even intuitive. I imagine many people feel that way. So what’s Moodle got going for it, then? It’s FREE, it’s easy to set up, and there’s a thriving development community behind it that can help you when you get stuck.

Well, in case you didn’t know, there’s another game in town by the name of Dokeos. It’s not as well known in North America, but it’s huge in other countries. Dokeos mirrors Moodle in many ways: it’s easy to set up, uses the same technology (PHP/MySQL), is open-source, and has a very large developer community. Dokeos has a much different look and feel than Moodle, which I find a little cleaner and easier to use. (Disclaimer: I test drove Dokeos over a year ago and haven’t tried the latest versions)

But there’s trouble brewing in Dokeosland. Apparently there were significant differences of opinion regarding the future of Dokeos, prompting Yannick Warnier (the lead developer) as well as the entire development staff to leave the Dokeos project [link no longer available]. While this is probably very disconcerting to Dokeos users, Yannick and the former Dokeos developers are not leaving anyone hanging… they’ve forked Dokeos’ open-source code and used it to create a new LMS named Chamilo. It’s basically Dokeos under-the-hood, but with newer features and a new direction. They’re dedicated to the notion of open-source software, and are ensuring Chamilo stays open.

I highly recommend giving Chamilo a spin. I’m looking forward to trying it myself.

Side note: if you’re looking for more alternatives to Moodle, you can also try Ilias. It’s pretty nice, too.

9 thoughts on “Not so crazy about Moodle? Try Chamilo”

  1. As far as I have heard (from Dokeos I must admit) is that there is quite some disinformation coming from Chamilo because they want to take over the clients and community of Dokeos. Allow me te list the main topics that I recall

    * Dokeos is still open source
    * Dokeos bases it developments on the need of the clients while Chamilo is developed by programmers (usability problems, too complex for normal users, concepts that are good from a point of view of a developer but that users do not need, …)
    * Dokeos still have its own developers (chamilo says that all developers have left dokeos and joined chamilo)
    * the lead developer (who has left) apparently called himself the lead developer
    * the split is more about money that the chamilo people want to admit (apparently Dokeos refused the developers a pay raise)

    I also want to add that this is the information I heard first hand from Dokeos so the truth lies probably somewhere in the middle.
    *

  2. I have tried both and Chamilo is the same Dokeos, in the future, versions 2 and up may turn a bit differently. I have also tested Chamilo 2.0 Beta and is amazing, wait for Dokeos 2.0 wich I am sure will be almost the same.

    Dokeos has some “flavors” as the call their paid and open source versions; I see no problem using only the open source version; for the rest of us, If you ever need to try look for Claroline http://www.claroline.net wich is so simple that works!
    Ahhh, Dokeos is a fork of Claroline..

  3. Chamilo will really turn into its own with Chamilo 2.0. This has been developed from scratch and has nothing to do with existing (Dokeos) code. The project originated at Ghent University College a few years ago and was soon supported by a.o. the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and Erasmus University College.
    Chamilo 2 really is a completely new learning and collaboration platform.

  4. Hi all,

    I’m taking the opportunity to answer this as there are doubts about what has been said and what is really the case. I’m using “D” to refer to the previous project and company (I’ve been asked not to use the full name otherwise I might be sued).

    First of all, you can find a copy of the article I wrote about leaving “D” here: http://beeznest.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/exit-dokeos-enter-chamilo/ (you can see I mention the financial aspect in there, starting second paragraph, so I’ve been sincere from the start with that, but this was not the main reason for leaving the “D” company – for which I have never been an employee anyway).

    Now answering @frank’s comments:
    * “D” is still open source
    – Well, that’s what’s being touted, and it is fine. It still remains to be proven though, as from the day we left “D” (January 2010), no code has been made publicly accessible on what is currently being developed for “D” 2.0. If the idea is to make an free/libre software, you don’t close the source until it’s released for your customers (although this is authorized by the GPL license, it is a direct diversion from the free software philosophy.
    Free software for education has one role to play in global development (in my opinion): allow people with low resources to still improve their education strategy to widespread education at lower cost. This is not possible the way “D” is developed right now. Technically, “D” could remain free/libre software for its customers only, meaning nobody could access those open-source code sources but the “D” customers directly.

    * “D” bases it developments on the need of the clients while Chamilo is developed by programmers (usability problems, too complex for normal users, concepts that are good from a point of view of a developer but that users do not need, …)
    – the same argument the “D” manager used for years. Chamilo has already at least 3 big companies as customers and 3 large universities (and a lot of small businesses too). The difference is that we’re having fun and a personal interest in developing, which improves quality, while all “D” developers are hired to write a specific feature for one single customer, then go. While we’re inactive as a company for a fortnight, the community developers continue adding code and reviewing previous code because they like it. That’s the magic of open-source. Of course, it doesn’t happen if you have to ask (by e-mail) for a read access to the code. This is not only an open-source geeks model, it is also what Facebook and Google do right now (give more power to developers).

    * “D” still have its own developers (chamilo says that all developers have left “d” and joined chamilo)
    – yup, so from the 19 developers we had at the time we were leaving “D”, 18 came with us, remained one that was working about half a day per week on “D”, and then “D” started hiring past developers (that had previously gone because they were bored with the management) or just fired Chamilo developers (that were kicked because they not able to work as a team – one important feature in a 300,000 lines software development job).

    * the lead developer (who has left) apparently called himself the lead developer
    – In 2005, I suggested to the “D” manager that because I was the most active developer and everybody was referring to me as for technical information about “D”, we should send a good message of organization to the community at large and explain that if they wanted technical info or help deciding what to do, there was now an official lead developer for that. The *proposal* was warmly welcomed and implemented. You can check my LinkedIn referrals list and see who exactly is recommending my work:

    “Yannick is the lead developer of “D” and the leader of “D” Latin America. He knows everything about this software and is able to write the analysis for a development in one night….” November 19, 2007
    T. Depraetere, Owner, “D”

    That was in 2007, fair enough. I can assure you my skills or responsibilities haven’t lowered in three years time.

    * the split is more about money that the chamilo people want to admit (apparently “D” refused the developers a pay raise)
    – sure, that’s exactly why the “D” + OLPC project (fully voluntary) is now dead, why there aren’t any more “D” users meetings, why there isn’t any voluntary developer in the “D” project, etc… because we’re all about the money, of course!
    Honestly, that one’s a no brainer. Look around at the community activity around both project, you’ll see which one is really driven by money, and which is really open…
    Anyway, as I indicated in my second paragraph, there was a money incident, but that was more

    > I also want to add that this is the information I heard first hand from “D” so the truth lies probably somewhere in the middle.

    … or maybe not

  5. There is more truth than that glitters.

    Dokeos code remains open, but the code is not public through cvs, svn or hg. Bad sign.

    Dokeos is true that based their development on their customers, but it is quite true that Chamilo do on the needs of developers, it does so according to the needs of their customers and community members in their institutions or companies are also programmers. This last was in Dokeos, but it is not, now is just a company without community (just compare with Dokeos forums Chamilo to notice the little interest of the Dokeos company in this respect).

    Dokeos developers themselves do not have a certain stability. Just look at the job offers that appear in the pages of Dokeos.

    Yannick itself was the principal developer as before it was cool that Patrick was also a victim of the company, just take a look at the old forums and svn Dokeos visible yet to realize this. Now it is true that no one knows who is the lead developer.

    I do not know if it was an economic issue which was involved in this, but I do know that the company Dokeos Latin America was primarily responsible for the growth of Dokeos (just browse the forums and even the components of the current portal are not French, but Spanish-speaking), so it would not surprise me that more good has been the opposite, that the company Dokeos Belgium have wanted to take advantage of this and not recognize the value of the Spanish section was setting. What I do know that there have been many other things, I also know what it is today and what today Dokeos is Chamilo: Dokeos increasingly closed, away from a public community against Chamilo very open and a great community to which heard and allowed to participate.

    I spent from Dokeos to Chamilo, not money, not charge or one or the other, but because I saw Chamilo could do more to help others and not only the interests of a company.

  6. Really I not have idea what is funny in Chamilo ? 1 .- The community is very small
    2.- In the forum take days or never reply any questions 3.- The software version 2.0 is not finish not translations not fully working at all.
    Really I believe the seam of Frank Smets the like to take over the customers of Dokeos
    We already start with Chamilo but is a big very big error and we go to change the system to dokeos

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