With a classically direct name, “Simple Search,” Moodle 3.5 brings a solution that might go unnoticed to most users, but will be greatly appreciated by admins having to deal with setting up a working search functionality in Moodle.
We are accustomed to finding the exact bit of information we are looking for, but the truth is that search is hard. That is, search as a computational problem presents several difficulties which, in the case of large Moodle datasets, are only compounded. Scopes (Are you searching courses, users, activities?), roles (Are search results showing you something you are not supposed to see?), and performance (Are you looking for quick or exhaustive? You can’t have both) are only some of the issues an administrator has to consider when setting up search in Moodle. (You do not want the evil eye that comes from asking a developer to enable Moodle plugin search.) Luckily, Moodle 3.5 comes with a search engine already set up.
Moodle 3.5’s “Simple Search” brings a reliable tool that includes filtering by type of content, course, and creation date. Admins need to set up a few attributes for “Simple Search” before first use, but nothing compared to installing Solr or a proprietary search engine, a task requiring a good full day of competent engineering. Among them is the frequency in which the search index is updated and the search areas. Of course, third-party search engines can still be configured, which in many cases may deliver better performance.
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