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Pros and Cons of Mahara

Gideon Williams's profile picture
Posts: 108

28 May 2013, 1:58 AM

I was asked via twitter recently to suggest some pros and cons of using Mahara as a portfolio for recording staff professional development.

I made some suggestions via a Google Doc which some of you might like to contribute to/comment on?

Many thanks



Aaron Wells's profile picture
Posts: 896

28 May 2013, 11:46 AM

As a Mahara developer and not a user, I'll refrain from adding anything in order to remain neutral. Wink

But I love reading these kinds of feedback. I've noticed a lot of the same things listed on the Cons page. Personally, I think if I was blue-skying Mahara, the main thing I'd like to do is modernize the user interface so that it's more Web 3.0-ish and there's less clicking involved in creating Pages; and I would like to simplify or hide the abstraction of "Content" vs "Pages", which is one of the big stumbling blocks in new users figuring out how Mahara works.


anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 31

28 May 2013, 12:48 PM

Gideon, I am interested to see these ideas added to by NZ users so have posted your message in a foum for multi-tennanted Mahara for NZ school users known as myportfolio. I hope some of the teachers will add to your list.

Although not worded exactly the same Kristina a feature request survey late last year (the Ministry of Education had put forward some development funding and wanted the user community to have some input as to development priorities). I have added the summarised results from this survey in to your document, as it shows where NZ teachers would like to see the product evolve/strengthened. 


Gideon Williams's profile picture
Posts: 108

28 May 2013, 9:01 PM

As a strong proponent of Mahara I would not go anywhere else but it is nice to create a lits that others may want to add to. It is done as an "end user" which I am rather than a developer which I most certainly am not.

Please feel free to add, edit and comment.

Interestingly enough, the request came from Robert Willetts, Principal of a "Middle School" in New South Wales.

Will read the comments with interest


Cheers Paul

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 3632

09 June 2013, 5:17 PM

Hello Gideon,

Thanks for starting this document. I'll not add my own things as they are already on the wishlist tracker, but might add a few comments. Some things are pretty vague in the list and thus it would be fnatastic if those who wrote them down added some more info what they would like to see instead so we have a better idea as for the direction into which users would like to see it taken.

User feedback such as this is incredibly important, but the conversation should not stop there, but take the further step to "Now how can we improve that?"




anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 112

26 December 2013, 2:46 PM

I don't feel comfortable adding/modifying the actual document, so I will add my comments here:

  • Navigation to some areas is not as straightforward as it could be - mjn - I think that "file", "Page", and "Collection" should be together, because those are the items that people are going to go to the most.  The other stuff is used less often.

  • Some processes not hugely intuitive eg file uploads, dragging blocks (although you soon get used to it) -- mjn - Would be nice to be able to drag and drop directly to the sub-directory.  Also, it would be nice to have the sub-directories in a tree format.

  • Adding images is a real pain (via blocks) -- mjn - 100% agree with this.  It is this reason why I sometimes wonder if Mahara is the correct choice for what my group is using Mahara for.  I really want the ability to keep images and text into one "block" with having the text float around the image.

  • No offline storage/creation -- mjn -- sometimes it would be easier to modify stuff in a text file and then upload it.  This is especially true when I need to create a whole bunch of file that following a similar template.  Maybe having an XML format that Mahara could understand would help with this issue.

  • Very limited management of pages eg cannot create folders of pages – can get easily cluttered -- mjn - agree with this.

  • Sometimes it can get confusing managing pages and having separate resources area – sometimes students struggle to do both -- mjn - agree file and pages should be in the same menu area.

  • Cost for storage and requires technical expertise to set up (unlike Google Drive) -- mjn - don't agree with this, because it is easy to setup using softaculous.  And with Google Drive, all of the other "issues" mentioned here, become even larger.

  • Limited backup functionality through use of exports -- mjn - would like to see an XML format for exporting and importing.

  • No recycle bin - lacks undo function -- mjn - this should be easy to fix by simplying creating a "recyle bin" collection, and then hiding an pages that are in the recycle bin collection  But then you would need an option to truly delete a file from the recycle bin.  Although, then it brings up the question if that "feature" should be allowed for all collections.  "Display all pages that are not part of a collection".

  • Lacks a single click facility for ‘file upload’... this could be a native button on a home page/dashboard that takes users to an upload/share url box -- mjn  - agree, also if a user selects "image" block and the image is not already uploaded, the user should have the ability to upload a file.

  • When you save a title and description of a page  it jumps straight to  the  content page  skipping over layout -- mjn - agree -- would be nice to have the ability to specify default layout (what is used the most).

  • Unable to perform bulk file operations such as delete, move or copy. This can only be resolved quickly for a large quantity of files, either by hacking the database or use of imacros in the web browser to automate the process -- mjn - agree

  • User can delete feedback comments - how annoying is this! - mjn - don't agree.  Maybe that is setting by group or institution?

My own additions:

  • mjn - the ability to copy a file directly from another url.

  • mjn - follow the format of MediaWiki, where allowed websites are predefined.  So if a person wants to reference a file from WikiCommons, it would be [w:mapofus.jpg], and Mahara would know automatically how to expand this into the correct format.
  • MediaWiki freedom for creating pages and categories.  If I put [[mynewpage]] in an existing page, and then I click on the link, it should then ask me if i want to create a page.
  • I have not messed around with tags.  But maybe form a relationship between tags and collections.  If i put a page into a collection, it automatically has the same tag.  If I tag a bunch of pages with say "George Washington', then there should automatically create a collection called "George Washington".  Every time I create a new page that is tagged George Washignton, it is automatically added to the collection "George Washington"
  • Relationship between headers and tags.  A lot of times I want my headers to be tags, but I am just too lazy to retype it.  There should be a check box next to the header title that says "create corresponding tag" and "create corresponding collection".  Maybe this is just the type of work I am doing where I have a bunch of lessons on the American Revolution  So I have one page about President Washington.  I have another page about "Washington Crossing The Delaware", and then another page about "Valley Forge".    And expanding on this idea, each of those pages only has one section about George Washington (paragraph).  It would be nice to then display all of those sections into one page without having to oopy each individual text box onto a new page.
  • The ability to assign a class and/or custom CSS to a specific block (any type of block).  Sometimes I want to customize a specific block without having to modify a template or create a whole new skin (which is currently buggy).  I have a colletion with 40 pages with long titles for each page.  I turned off the create tab for collection.  I added the collection block, but it only displays it in one column.  The way that I did my page layout, I did not want that.  I wanted to display them either as multiple columns, or just going across with a bullet between each item.  I wanted the block to go across the whole page in stead of down the whole column.  But it is only for that set of pages in that collection that I want to do that.  
  • Another example of the above is creating a block that floats to the right or left and adding a border around it, like an aside.  Right now it is hardcoded in Mahara that a "block" always have to be of type "cb" which says that is must be cleared on both sides.  This would be used to float text around images or quotes.



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