Thanks, Andy! (Community Facilitator for the JISC Flexible Service Delivery (FSD) Programme)
Here’s our rough roadmap (in approximate order) over the next 2/3 weeks:
1. Event/calendar sharing
2. Public calendars
3. Epic source code clean up (and source code release)
4. Properly set up http://calendar.lincoln.ac.uk
5. Integrate library return dates
6. Open to everyone
(7. Rewrite OAuth/SSO to use SQL + Windows server)
Future desirables (in no specific order)
1) Mobile site
2) Improve IE compatibility
4) Further integrations with other services – posters.lincoln.ac.uk, room bookings (likely to be our summer project), Jerome, etc
5) Revamp and bulk up our Nucleus APIs
Fun, fun, fun!
CWDx is 100% HTML5 and CSS3, includes extensive WIA-ARIA mark-up for accessibility, is Ajax driven and is wonderfully minimalistic.
The calendar itself is an amazing jQuery plugin called FullCalendar which emulates a lot of Google Calendar’s functionality.
Currently students can view their academic timetable and if they have any, their Blackboard assignment deadlines. Both staff and students also have their own calendar which they can write to. Everyone can subscribe to their calendar on a mobile device or in another application such as Google Calendar.
In the next few weeks users will have access to their library book return dates, will be able to create new calendars and share events, and we’re currently developing a CalDav system that will allow true event syncing across multiple devices and applications.
Behind the academic side of the University lies an army of support and administrative staff. It’s their job to look after the bits and pieces which let the University actually function, and Total ReCal was built not only to help students and academic staff get on with their life but also to make the business of supporting them easier.
First of all, Total ReCal helps staff by making any updates to calendar information replicate around the system as rapidly as possible. Since our Nucleus events platform serves as a single source of information any updates directly on Nucleus are instantaneously reflected in views on the data, and even changes to imported data such as timetables and assessments are shown a lot faster than before. A reduced lag time between making a change and systems updating means that it’s easier to make changes and cancellations to events, and that more people are likely to be informed of those changes. For some alterations we even have change detection which can be hooked into notification systems such as text, making cancelling a lecture and notifying students a simple operation.
There’s also a related benefit to the rapid updating of information in that Total ReCal (or, more accurately, Nucleus) represents a single location for calendaring data, meaning that it’s a lot easier to draw on collated data. This may initially seem like a somewhat ‘fluffy’ feature which will never be used, but with a little bit of thought it’s easy to see how it can help drive decisions. For example, we can draw pretty graphs of room usage over time and spot peaks and troughs, enabling smarter timetabling. We can detect collisions across disparate systems, reducing confusion over resource allocation. We can monitor assessment ‘pile-up’ to help spread the workload of students more evenly. In short we gain the ability to draw up reports on just about anything in real-time.
Finally – and most importantly – Total ReCal will make it easier to do things the ‘right’ way (ie by managing events centrally) rather than by groups or departments going off and doing their own thing. Where in the past things such as induction timetables were managed by departments and distributed (literally) as a gigantic Word document it’s now easier for everybody involved to just use Total ReCal and to distribute the result over My Calendar. Students can be forcibly added to calendars such as induction or exams, and our code takes care of all the hard work of making sure your events don’t collide with another. Even better, there’s no real deadline for content creation because there’s no publishing deadline. Change the event centrally and the change ripples out to all the users and other systems relying on calendar data within minutes.
We hope that within a year Total ReCal will have prompted students to demand that their departments use centralised timetabling and assessment deadline management, leading to a more unified, reliable, easy to use and just better looking life.