Bolt Tutorial, Part I: Courses and Lessons

Creating a course

Install the BOINC software on a Linux system and run configure (you don't need to make). Or run the BOINC server virtual machine using VirtualBox on any computer.

Use make_project to create a BOINC project named "test":

> cd boinc/tools
> make_project --web_only test

Read ~/projects/test/test.readme and do what it says.

Let's say your server's domain name is "a.b.c".

and move them to the corresponding subdirectories of ~/projects/test/html/.

Lessons and sequences

Our first example is a course consisting of 13 lessons. Each lesson consists of a PHP or HTML file. For example, the first lesson is conifer_intro.php.

The course structure is defined by a "course document", bolt_examples/inc/

A course document is like an outline for the course; it is a hierarchy of units. The bottom-level unites are lessons and exercises. Each lesson is specified by:


The higher-level units are Bolt control structures. In this example we use just one structure: sequence. The syntax for a sequence is:

   name("Name of the sequence"),
   [ ... other units ]

Bolt control structures can be nested: for example, the units in a sequence may include other sequences as well as lessons and exercises.

The course document is a PHP file. It must return a Bolt control structure. In this case, this is done as follows (lines 75-79):

return sequence(

You can use the expressive power of PHP to simplify and organize your course document. For example:

  • line 3: we include a separate file,, which defines page header and footer functions.
  • lines 5, 23 and 49: we define functions intro_lessons(), pine_lessons() and cypress_lessons, each of which returns a sequence for a section of the course.

Diagramatically, the course structure is:

Now visit http://a.b.c/test/bolt.php. You'll be asked to log in; do so. Click on the button to start the course. Fill in the form asking for your demographic info. Then you'll see:

Note that below the lesson, Bolt has added some navigation links and a form to ask questions. Click on the "Next" button. You'll see:

Now suppose that instead of reading the lesson, you go away (for an hour or a month) and return. Simulate this by visiting http://a.b.c.test/bolt.php; click Resume. Notice that Bolt "remembers" where you are in the course (this is stored in the database; it will work even if you go to a different computer).

Continue to Part II

Last modified 4 years ago Last modified on 05/19/13 15:56:19

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