The functionality impact of the Totara LMS Moodle fork. Multi-tenancy is coming


As you probably know, last year Totara Learning announced they will no longer be in lockstep with Moodle; meaning they are intentionally diverging away from their core LMS Moodle code base to focus on modernising their framework to specifically target enterprise solutions.

Now we have reached 2016 we understand a lot of you are curious to discover how Totara LMS will effectively carry out their fork from Moodle and what it means for you as a Totara user.

Here’s the key elements you need to know about Totara’s divergence from Moodle and how it will affect you in the future.

Why did Totara decide to fork from Moodle?

With Moodle targeting the education sector and Totara solely focused on the needs of workplace learning, the big decision to forge a new direction stemmed from the difference in end user requirements.

Totara realised they could achieve significant improvements in usability and modernising of the platform for enterprise customers if they diverge from Moodle’s foundations.

Now Totara are no longer tied down to Moodle’s core codebase they are able to focus on more rapid feature development.

They have the freedom to implement major architectural changes required to support significant improvements in functionality such as user interface and framework for multi-tenancy.

But most importantly they have the capability to provoke wider innovation and modernisation of the overall learning platform.

Innovation and modernisation of code and interface

The first code release after diverging from Moodle will be Totara LMS version 9, launching in summer 2016; Totara have announced they will be significantly improving the user experience and overall quality assurance.

Due to the fork, Totara can finally focus on modernising the platform’s user experience by refreshing the look and feel to something more relevant and suited to professionals in the corporate and the government industry.

Like all open-source software, the ability to extend the code base of an application and develop it in a new direction is great for innovation and evolving.

With the development lockstep in place, Totara were never able to make the impactful changes their customers and partners were asking for.

They have contributed to over 450,000 lines of code in the past couple of years, but always had to ensure minimal alterations were made to Moodle’s core code.

To effectively develop complex functionality, such as multi-tenancy, deep architectural changes have to be made.

Without these constraints Totara can now accelerate their rate of development and innovation focusing on meeting the unique demands of enterprise solutions.

What does it mean for the end Totara user?

Forging a new direction will allow Totara to firmly focus on an LMS that’s solely targeted to modern workplace learning.

So you can expect to benefit from much quicker development, as Totara now have the freedom to evolve faster, providing a more robust platform for future developments, which may even mean more frequent code releases!

You can also look forward to helpful new functionality, guided by the specific needs and demands of both Totara partners and users.


Multi-tenancy played a key role in Totara’s decision to fork, as it is a highly demanded feature and one which is requested more in the corporate sector rather than in an academic setting.

As Totara are unable to truly implement this powerful piece of functionality without making changes to Moodle’s core code, this feature was a large factor leading to the key divergence between Moodle and Totara LMS.

Totara have announced that multi-tenancy is not currently scheduled for development in Totara LMS version 9 but there is a high possibility for the functionality to be put in place by version 10.

glh Hotels overcame the current lack of multi-tenancy with Totara LMS by creating four on-brand themes for each of their hotel brands, using just one Totara LMS portal.

Providing BYOD access and blended learning support, their learners completed over 18,500 e-learning courses in the first 6 months of implementation.

Templates and theme changes

Totara have announced they are prioritising converting the platform to use templates in order to give theme designers more flexibility and control over the look and feel of their LMS.

There will no longer be difficulty in adopting a cleaner and modern look as Totara are looking at making some fundamental changes in order to modernise the platform.

What does the fork mean for Moodle users wanting to migrate to Totara LMS?

Are you are currently running Moodle and toying around with the idea of upgrading to Totara LMS?

As long as you are running Moodle version 3.0 or less, migration will be supported and is typically very straightforward.

Upgrade paths from any earlier version of Totara LMS to any later version of Moodle will always be supported.

And that’s it!

Everything you need to know about Totara’s fork from Moodle.

So if you think you could benefit from the powerful functionality that comes with Totara, get in touch  to explore the simplicity of migrating!


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