Posts tagged iCal

It has been brought to my attention that I need to point out some extra information regarding my post about iCal timetables, specifically this bit:

Which is why I’m happy to announce that a Level 2 Computing student has undertaken the monumentally complex task of taking your University timetable and turning it into an iCal format. The monumentally complex task which people assured me was technically very difficult due to the way timetabling was organised.

As Tim has rightly pointed out, the “monumentally complex task” of extracting the data has already been done in order to view your timetables at all, given that the data comes out of the timetabling system in somewhat of a mess.

So, kudos to Alex for hacking the data into iCal format, but equally kudos to those who managed to get it into HTML in the first place.

In future though, I would like to see more data being available in the open format (JSON, XML, REST and those other data exchange acronyms… just preferably not SOAP) and then being re-interpreted according to how it’s meant to be viewed. Ideally the data should flow from timetabling to the data repository, and then be extracted and reformatted into the HTML view. One definitive, authoritative source for the data.

One of the things I’m very big on is open data. Not necessarily just broadcasting everything to the universe for all to see (which would be stupid), but instead offering data in a format which is machine readable by design, and which can be easily taken, manipulated, shared, mashed and displayed as the user wants to see it and not as the company decides it should be consumed (although providing a ‘default’ view for users not savvy with open data is acceptable and indeed encouraged).

Which is why I’m happy to announce that a Level 2 Computing student has undertaken the monumentally complex task of taking your University timetable and turning it into an iCal format. The monumentally complex task which people assured me was technically very difficult due to the way timetabling was organised. The nigh on impossible challenge of extracting data and presenting it in a new format. The arduous task which took Alex an hour of tinkering in PHP, without so much as access to the raw data.

If you’re interested in getting your timetable in a format you can use on many devices, head off to Friendly Student Timetables (beta) at Learning Lab. Source code available.