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Project Description

Manage a database of questions and use it to generate assessments, e.g. assignments, quizzes, and exams.

qudb is a personal question bank for instructors. It allows you to:

  1. Manage your collection of questions for a given course, and assemble various assessments out of them.

  2. Track how you are using your questions. Query your database for questions, terms, assessments, or assessment types.

    An assessment type refers to a type of assessments that recur at most once every term, such as quiz1, assignment2, and final. It can be any arbitrary string identifying a type of assessment. An assessment is a specific occurrence of an assessment type in a given term, and hence is identified by a pair of a term and an assessment type.

    Example queries:

    • In which assessments has a given question been used?
    • What questions make up a given assessment?
    • What questions have been used in a given term?
    • What questions have been used in final exams across all terms?
  3. Use a template to render an assessment document using its questions.

  4. Distinguish between essay questions (default) and multiple-choice questions.

  5. Use arbitrary additional variables in your templates, so you can use the same templates across courses by introducing, for example, an additional course name variable.

Getting Started

  1. Create a database:

    qm init
    

    By default, this command creates a ./qu.db database file. Use the -D (or --database) option to specify the database file location.

  2. Add questions to assessments (an assessment is identified by a term and an assessment type):

    qm add --term 151 --assessment-type quiz1 questions/chapter1/whats-your-name.tex
    qm add --term 151 --assessment-type quiz1 questions/chapter1/mcq/choose-a-month.tex
    

    Use the -Q (or --questions-directory) option to specify where to look for the question files. You can also specify a question’s points (-p), whether it’s a bonus question (-b), and its order in the assessment (-o) if you want to insert it somewhere in the middle. The points, bonus, and order fields of a question are per assessment, and can change from one assessment to another.

  3. Generate an assessment:

    qm render --term 151 --assessment-type quiz1 --pdflatex quiz-template.tex
    

    The --pdflatex option (or -P) assumes that your template is a LaTeX file, requires the pdflatex program, and generates a PDF. Without it, you get a rendered template.

    The --config option (or -C) allows specifying additional arbitrary template variables using an INI-style configuration file.

Commands

Although the init, add, and render commands described above are often enough, there are a few other commands that complement them. Moreover, these three commands have a few options that control their operation. Here are all the supported commands and their options.

init

usage: qm init [-h] [-D DATABASE]

Create a new database file as specified by the -D option. Defaults to ./qu.db.
If the database exists, do nothing

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -D DATABASE, --database DATABASE
                        SQLite database file path

list

usage: qm list [-h] [-D DATABASE] [-Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY] [-t TERM]
               [-y ASSESSMENT_TYPE] [-q QUESTION] [-m]
               {terms,assessment-types,assessments,questions}

List existing entities: terms, assessment-types, assessments, or questions

positional arguments:
  {terms,assessment-types,assessments,questions}
                        what to list

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -D DATABASE, --database DATABASE
                        SQLite database file path
  -Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY, --questions-directory QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY
                        where to look for questions. Question paths stored in
                        the database are relative to this path
  -t TERM, --term TERM  academic semester code, e.g. 142
  -y ASSESSMENT_TYPE, --assessment-type ASSESSMENT_TYPE
                        examples: major1, assignment2, quiz3
  -q QUESTION, --question QUESTION
                        include results related to this question only
  -m, --mcq             whether to retrieve MCQs or non-MCQs. cannot retrieve
                        both at once

add

usage: qm add [-h] [-D DATABASE] [-Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY] -t TERM -y
              ASSESSMENT_TYPE [-b] [-p POINTS] [-o ORDER] [-d DATE]
              question

Add a question file to a given assessment, specified by a term and an
assessment-type (required options)

positional arguments:
  question              path to the question file

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -D DATABASE, --database DATABASE
                        SQLite database file path
  -Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY, --questions-directory QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY
                        where to look for questions. Question paths stored in
                        the database are relative to this path
  -t TERM, --term TERM  academic semester (3 digits)
  -y ASSESSMENT_TYPE, --assessment-type ASSESSMENT_TYPE
                        examples: major1, assignment2, quiz3
  -b, --bonus           this is a bonus question
  -p POINTS, --points POINTS
                        default points for question
  -o ORDER, --order ORDER
                        the order of the question in this assessment; defaults
                        to last
  -d DATE, --date DATE  assessment date; format YYYY-MM-DD

update

usage: qm update [-h] [-D DATABASE] [-Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY] -t TERM -y
                 ASSESSMENT_TYPE [-b] [-p POINTS] [-o ORDER] [-d DATE]
                 question

Update an existing assessment or question

positional arguments:
  question              path to the question file

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -D DATABASE, --database DATABASE
                        SQLite database file path
  -Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY, --questions-directory QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY
                        where to look for questions. Question paths stored in
                        the database are relative to this path
  -t TERM, --term TERM  academic semester (3 digits)
  -y ASSESSMENT_TYPE, --assessment-type ASSESSMENT_TYPE
                        examples: major1, assignment2, quiz3
  -b, --bonus           this is a bonus question
  -p POINTS, --points POINTS
                        default points for question
  -o ORDER, --order ORDER
                        the order of the question in this assessment; defaults
                        to last
  -d DATE, --date DATE  assessment date; format YYYY-MM-DD

remove (or rm)

usage: qm remove [-h] [-D DATABASE] [-Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY] -t TERM -y
                 ASSESSMENT_TYPE

Remove a question from an assessment

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -D DATABASE, --database DATABASE
                        SQLite database file path
  -Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY, --questions-directory QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY
                        where to look for questions. Question paths stored in
                        the database are relative to this path
  -t TERM, --term TERM  academic semester (3 digits)
  -y ASSESSMENT_TYPE, --assessment-type ASSESSMENT_TYPE
                        examples: major1, assignment2, quiz3

render

usage: qm render [-h] [-D DATABASE] [-Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY] -t TERM -y
                 ASSESSMENT_TYPE [-O OUTPUT_DIRECTORY] [-C CONFIG] [-P]
                 [-l MATERIAL]
                 template

Generate assessment documents using the specified template. Two documents are
generated: TERM-ASSESSMENT_TYPE.tex and TERM-ASSESSMENT_TYPE-solution.tex,
with the template variable "solution" set to False and True, respectively.
Templates are rendered using the Jinja2 template engine, with the following
delimiters: <% block %><% endblock %>, << variable >>, <# comment #>

positional arguments:
  template              path to the jinja2 template file

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -D DATABASE, --database DATABASE
                        SQLite database file path
  -Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY, --questions-directory QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY
                        where to look for questions. Question paths stored in
                        the database are relative to this path
  -t TERM, --term TERM  academic semester (3 digits)
  -y ASSESSMENT_TYPE, --assessment-type ASSESSMENT_TYPE
                        examples: major1, assignment2, quiz3
  -O OUTPUT_DIRECTORY, --output-directory OUTPUT_DIRECTORY
                        the directory in which the rendered files will be
                        saved
  -C CONFIG, --config CONFIG
                        ini-style configuration file defining additional
                        template variables. (Use section [templates])
  -P, --pdflatex        process rendered file with pdflatex (4 runs)
  -l MATERIAL, --material MATERIAL
                        specify the material to which this assessment
                        pertains. Available to the template in the "material"
                        variable

export

usage: qm export [-h] [-D DATABASE] [--overwrite] file

Export the database to a YAML file (does not include the contents of question
files)

positional arguments:
  file                  YAML file to export to

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -D DATABASE, --database DATABASE
                        SQLite database file path
  --overwrite           overwrite the file if it already exists

import

usage: qm import [-h] [-D DATABASE] [-Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY] [-u] file

Import data from a YAML file into the database. To learn the YAML schema,
export a minimal database, or see the README.md file

positional arguments:
  file                  YAML file to import

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -D DATABASE, --database DATABASE
                        SQLite database file path
  -Q QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY, --questions-directory QUESTIONS_DIRECTORY
                        where to look for questions. Question paths stored in
                        the database are relative to this path
  -u, --update          ignore existing, identical questions

Example valid YAML data:

'142':          # term code
  quiz1:  # assessment type: creates an assessment in the parent term
  - file: questions/chapter1/q1.tex  # each item in the list is a question
  - file: questions/chapter2/q5.tex  # file: the file containing the question text
    date: 2015-02-14  # a date in any question sets the assessment date
  - bonus: true  # set this question as a bonus question
    file: questions/chapter2/arm-gcc.tex
    points: 20   # how many points are assigned to this question in this assessment
  quiz2:   # another assessment in the same term
  - date: 2015-03-07
    file: questions/chapter3/q2.tex
  - file: questions/chapter3/q3.tex
    points: 20
'151':          # another term
  quiz1:  # this is a different assessment from the previous quiz1,
          # because it belongs to a different term
  - file: questions/chapter6/q3.tex

Templates

Templates use the Jinja2 template language. The render command requires the --term and --assessment-type options to specify an assessment. The following assessment variables are available in the template:

  • term: the term of the specified assessment.
  • title: assessment title, based on its type. For example, quiz1 results in the title Quiz 1, and major1 results in the title Major Exam 1.
  • date: assessment date, as specified using the --date option of the add and update commands.
  • solution (Boolean): whether we are rendering the solution.
  • qs: an ordered list of question objects belonging to this assessment. Includes the following fields:
    • question.file: path of the question file.
    • points: question points.
    • bonus (Boolean): whether this is a bonus question.
  • mcqs: an ordered list of multiple-choice question objects, otherwise similar to qs.
  • questions_relpath: the relative path from the current directory to the questions as specified by the -Q/--questions-directory option.

Variables can be referenced in the template by enclosing them in << and >>. For example, << title >> renders the assessment’s title.

To use some basic logic in the template, use template statements, such as for loops or if conditionals, by enclosing them in <% and %>. For example:

<% for q in qs %>
    <% if q.bonus %>
        \bonusquestion
    <% else %>
        \question
    <% endif %>
    <% if q.points %>[<< q.points >>]<% endif %>
    \input{<< questions_relpath >>/<< q.question.file >>}
<% endfor %>

For information about the template language, consult the Jinja2 Template Designer Documentation.

Assumptions

  • One SQLite database file per course.
  • Questions and templates are text files.
  • Multiple choice questions have an /mcq/ component in their paths.
  • Each question file includes the question’s solution in a way that allows it to be easily listed or omitted in a template.
  • Although it is not required, qudb works well with the exam LaTeX package. For example, each question file can wrap the solution in a solution environment, then the template can easily include or exclude the solution based on the value of the solution template variable as follows:
<% if solution %>
\printanswers
<% endif %>

License

BSD (2-clause).

Release History

Release History

0.6

This version

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