Math4Team/RIT/Projects/Question Support API/API Design

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Proposed API

The Quiz API would be a python library, to act mostly as glue between various file formats (and local or remote resources) for question data and the client Activity.

quizdata.open(uri, [cache=False])
Opens a URI, returning a list of quizdata.Question instances. A standard method of filtering question data based on parameters should be specified. Examples of URIs that might be used:
           http://xs-server/math4class/current_topic?format=gift
           file:///var/lib/mathquestions/quiz1?format=moodlexml
           xmpp://teacheraccount@xs.server/classname?format=gift&difficulty=hard&level=4
The cache parameter would locally save the retrieved questions to a persistent storage so requests from the same URI (with cache=True) would read from the cache.
class quizdata.Question
This class contains individual data for a question:
The question text
The style of answer (incl. multiple-choice, numeric, free response, etc.)
The correct answer (or if the question is subjective, that there *is* no correct answer). This includes answers for which the student may receive partial credit.
Question difficulty
Grade level
Tags (for free-form grouping by topic, course, instructor, etc.)
The question text and answers should support at least minimal markup, like that supported by pango, in addition to markup rendering with MathML/LaTeX syntax. (This requires a markup_type parameter of some kind.)
The attributes listed above will should grow standardized names and be documented as part of the interface to the Question class.
Question.answered
Returns True if the student has provided an answer for the Question.
Question.submitted
Returns True if the student has submitted an answer for the Question. XXX: Useful to make a distinction between answered and submitted?
Question.correct
Returns True if the currently selected answer is correct for the Question. XXX: What to do about partial credit? Value between 0 and 1?
Question.answer
Returns the answer the student has currently selected, or None if no answer has been entered.
quizdata.write_responses(questions, file_object, objective=None)
Writes to file_object the CSV formatted information about the list of questions passed. The CSV is formatted as follows: macaddress, nickname, learning_objective, correctness. The macaddress field is to be only 12 hexadecimal digits, normalized to lower-case. The learning_objective field can be supplied for all questions, or the write_responses function will simply leave the column blank if not supplied.

URL Design

As the example URLs above (in the documentation of quizdata.open) show, any number of possible scheme and resource-path implementations are possible, pending development time to implement them. The URLs will need to conform to certain constraints on parameters, in order to satisfy basic API requirements. Most importantly, a required "format" specifies what parsing backend to use for the retrieved data. Initially the following formats are being targeted:

Additional parameters could include the following:

level
The board grade-/other- level of the question(s)
difficulty
The relative difficulty of the question, in comparison to other questions of the same level.
category / tag
A general taxonomic filter. Possibly specified multiple times, if so, result is the *intersection* of the separate result sets (AND, not OR).

More evaluation is necessary for the filtering functionality, perhaps a separate mechanism for filtering is needed.

Implementation Issues

The URI lookup and question filtering based on parameters will be necessary. Further design and discussion is required.

Parsing the various format parsers necessary to build the Question objects.

For markup support, some simple way to give the client activities and easy way to display it would be desirable. (Restrict the list of markup formats? Require supplying plain text in addition?)