Posts tagged timetables

Recently we’ve been lining up a few cool things which I want to share. Not massive things, no new services with bells and whistles, not even a shiny new design to look at. No, today’s changes are all about little things which most of people won’t notice, but which makes everyone’s lives a bit easier.

First of all, we’re beginning to push our Get Satisfaction feedback tabs onto more services. These delightful little tabs come in a variety of colours (depending on the service you’re using), but all live on the left hand side of the page and give you a pop-up feedback window from where you can tell us your questions, ideas, problems or praise. The whole thing is smoothly integrated with your University account so there’s no need to register again, and we really do value (and listen to, and reply to) everything we hear. Give it a click if you want to tell us something.

Secondly, we’re acting on some feedback! A few of you (read: a lot of you) have complained about the weird sign in page for our Wi-Fi network which forced you to click the ‘I Accept’ button instead of just hitting enter. You’ll be pleased to hear that we’re changing that, and you should see the results either today or tomorrow.

(more…)

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.