Experimental features
  • 21 Jun 2022
  • 3 minutes to read

Experimental features

The experimental settings area can be located via Quick-access menu > Development > Experimental > Experimental settings. It lists features that require additional testing and bug-fixing. Experimental settings will be disabled by default and must be enabled by a Site Administrator. 

We recommend you use a test server for testing experimental features before enabling them on your production site.

It is important to note that these features are new and may not have been fully tested. Including experimental features means those who want to can try them out and offer feedback to ensure they are improved before they are included in the main site settings as supported features. 

If you do not wish to see the experimental features section at all then you would need to hardcode this out in the config.php file.

This adds the Require Safe Exam Browser choice to the Browser security field on the quiz settings form. See http://www.safeexambrowser.org/ for more information.

Enable or disable the dragging and dropping of text and links onto a course page. If enabled, when text is dragged and dropped into the course, Totara will offer to add it as a label. When a link is dragged and dropped into a course, Totara will offer to add it as a URL resource. 

Note that the dragging of text into Firefox or between different browsers is unreliable and may result in no data being uploaded, or corrupted text being uploaded.

If enabled, data will be indexed and synchronised by a scheduled task. This means you can search content across the site, rather than just within a single course. However, you can still only search areas your roles and permissions give you access to.

Currently Solr is the only search engine available by default in Totara, so you will need to install this on your server before going to Quick-access menu > Plugins > Search > Solr to configure the settings. 

You can find more information about installing Solr on the Apache website.

After Solr is configured you can decide what to include in global search by going to Quick-access menu > Plugins > Search > Search areas. 

By default, Totara's default search field names are sent to Solr and force Solr to ignore its own search field names. You can enable the Discard site default search field names setting to prevent Totara's default search field names being sent, meaning Solr is able to specify its own field names. This may improve the accuracy of the global search.


As is the case for all experimental settings, we have included global search in the development section because it is not yet considered ready for general production release by the Totara developers. The global search function was adapted from Moodle. It was seen as beneficial to release an experimental version of global search in order to get feedback from the Totara community on how it can be improved to suit relevant requirements. Some of the specific concerns that were raised have been included below so that you can take them into consideration if you are looking to implement the global search. 


Completeness of results

There are many situations for which global search presently will not give a complete result set:

  • Audience visibility
  • Access to content through staff roles/managers
  • Unlaunched courses in programs and certifications not having enrolment records

The consequence of the above is the results may contain items that they should not presently, and may not contain items that they should.

Performance concerns

A review of the code identified several performance concerns in the code. This more than anything represents an unknown when it comes to scalability.

Questions over the implemented design

During review several questions were raised around the design of the search results, how the results are displayed, the relevance and usefulness of the search, and whether it really would meet people's needs.

Integration with Totara Learn

There has not yet been sufficient time to integrate Totara Learn-specific functionality with search, e.g. programs and certifications, seminars, etc.

Enable tenant isolation

By default, when multitenancy is enabled users can see content and users from other tenants, which makes it easier to share content across the site. However, in some cases you may require your tenants to be totally separated.

When tenant isolation is enabled then the content and users in each tenant are completely separate. For example, this means that users will only be able to see content from their own tenant in the course catalogue.

Please note that when tenant isolation is enabled, performance management functionality (e.g. appraisals or goals) and learning plans will not be available.

© Copyright 2022 Totara Learning Solutions. All rights reserved. Some content originally obtained via GPLv3 license and continues to be available under GPLv3. All other content is the sole copyright of Totara Learning Solutions. 

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