Developing your module

The flexibility of the SDK means we can wrap a new frontend around the package to produce a totally different set of features. We’ve done just this, and came up with the playground. The playground uses the SDK to instantly frame any module in a development environment, allowing you to change settings, permissions and third party connections without having to set up a new activity.

You don’t have to use the playground - the portal will do the same job. However, the playground requires a lot less configuration when creating new module instances.

Playground Setup

It’s easiest to develop with the playground locally, so that changes are instantly reflected.

  1. git clone playground to clone the playground project

  2. composer install && npm install && npm run dev to install dependencies

  3. Edit the .env file. At least fill in the database connection section.

  4. Generate a secret key: php artisan key:generate && php artisan passport:keys

  5. Run the migrations: php artisan migrate

You can now run php artisan serve and access the playground at http://localhost:8000!

You can set up a local web server to serve the playground through a URL such as 'https://playground.local' rather than using the php server.

Pulling in your module

As is, the module would still need to be published so it can be pulled into the playground. To circumvent this, we need to set up a local composer repository to symlink the module. The following has been tested on Linux, but should work on Windows/Mac too.

Assuming the directory structure is as follows;

- modules
    - my-module
        - composer.json
        - ...
- playground
    - ...

we can paste the following into the playground composer.json to make composer aware of the module.

"autoload-dev": {
"repositories": [
        "type": "path",
        "url": "../modules/my-module"
"extra": {

Now composer will be able to search your module folder and find your module composer.json file. We can then require our module via composer: composer require bristol-su/my-module @dev

Requiring @dev will install the version on your filesystem. You can also use any other composer constraint, but @dev should work for most situations.


If your module does not appear in the playground, you may need to delete 'bootstrap/cache/packages.php' and 'bootstrap/cache/services.php'. Your module should now appear, and you should be able to click into it and start developing!

When you first open your module in the playground, you may not see the example Vue component. This is because your JS and CSS files have not been published. Nor have your config files, or migrations, but these are merged into the portal at boot. Your js and css files (compiled) however, must be published each time there is a change.

Compiling on change

Although we are working on an easier solution, we recommend using when-changed (if you use linux) to manage this updating. This is a command you can run to automatically publish your assets when a change is detected. To set this up, follow the following

  1. Set up a python virtual environment (in e.g. /home/toby/dev/when-changed): python3 -m venv /home/toby/dev/when-changed/venv

  2. Source the environment: source /home/toby/dev/when-changed/venv/bin/activate

  3. Install when-changed: pip install when-changed

  4. Run

when-changed -r /path/to/module/public/modules -c php /path/to/playground/artisan vendor:publish --force --provider="Your\Provider\Namespace\ModuleServiceProvider"

This will watch your assets, and publish them when any changes are detected. You can put this into an alias by editing your .bashrc file:

alias onchange-module="source /path/to/venv/bin/activate && " when-changed -r /path/to/module/public/modules -c php /path/to/playground/artisan vendor:publish --force --provider="Your\Provider\Namespace\ModuleServiceProvider"

What your module should contain

The following chapters of this documentation will go through this in much more detail, but this aims to give an overview of what a module should/could consist of.

  • Participant Page

    • A way for users of the portal to interact with your module

  • Admin Page

    • A way for portal admins to interact with your module.

  • Settings

  • Permissions

  • Events

  • Completion Conditions