Thursday, 9 October 2008

A Better Timetable

The Problem:

The university timetable (at Southampton University) is rubbish. A flat PDF with cryptic course codes and building/room numbers which require at least two other resources to translate into any sort of geographical location. If you are in a hurry (which i usually am when looking at a timetable) not only is it extremely irritating having to log in to various portals (none as exciting as Narnia) just to get at some pretty simple info.

The Solution:

A web based timetable which integrates all the info in one place. The steps involved:

  • Upload the rubbish PDF file downloaded from university website.

  • The file is processed on the server and converted into a database table format

  • All user-identifiable information is stripped from the pdf

  • The user then selects a memorable identifier that identifies their timetable, there is no need for a password (cannot link student number/name with timetable)

  • The user or someone the user has shared their timetable with goes to the site eg.

  • The page then shows the 'now & next' lectures. Each one shows the building number and name and on click highlights the building on the map

  • you can browse the weeks timetable and add extra lectures (tutorials etc.) and 'week specific' events (non recurring)

  • There is a mobile version of the site adapted for the small screen

I just wish i had time to actually do this :-( , perhaps sell it to the uni when it becomes a roaring success


Stephen English said...

How about something that logs into the uni system, scrapes all the course timetables (everyone has access to these) then offers to build you a timetable. Or make them all available as ical files so people can pull them into their calendar reader of choice (e.g. Google calendar) It's probably doable to find everyones course code lists on there somewhere - maybe amalgamate all their courses into one ical file automagically.

Smiler said...

You can download the timetable as a CSV file. This is still rather useless, but at least it's more easily machine processed.

Edd's made a script to turn the CSV file into an iCal file. Take a look: