Introducing 3D school timetable

The problem that bothers all timetablers around the world is about resolving lesson conflicts. But how to spot a lesson conflict in a 2D timetable? How to discover that under a card there is another card or many more? The answer is simple.

Our school timetable software will automatically rotate all conflicted cards in the current timetable view. Each conflicted card is slightly rotated by 30° to the left and right respectively. Also, each card has its own Z-order on Z-axis, thus creating a 3D timetable. But wait, there is more.

Screenshot of school timetable with lots of conflicted cards

All conflicted cards are smartly arranged for you. Larger and pinned cards are always at the bottom so as to avoid rotating and the active card is placed on the top. Clicking a card at the bottom brings it to the front, while other cards automatically rearrange. To emphasize 3D even more, shadow of a card being dragged is darker when dragged over the conflicted cards and lighter when there are no cards below. As always, to bring you the best timetabling experience all rearranging, rotating and moving is smoothly animated.

Screenshot of school timetable with several rotated cards

Screenshot of correct school timetable with all conflicts resolved

In the first screenshot there are conflicted cards for 7-D class and for teachers Plutarch and Darwin which are positioned above other non-conflicted surrounding cards. On the last screenshot conflicts are resolved using automatic timetable generator without a single card being rotated.

To sum things up: now you can even visually spot card conflicts without starting timetable validation. Just make sure that there are no rotated cards in the class, teacher or room view (extra views can help too). And if for some reason you don't want it, uncheck "Rotate conflicted cards" in Help -> Options.

Although playing with smoothly animated cards can be a game-like experience to pass the time, we sincerely wish you happy 3D timetabling with no conflicts!

Extra school timetable views

Sometimes you want to adjust certain lessons/cards using only drag & drop (also known as manual timetabling). And just when you have found the perfect lesson position in teacher view, you switch to room view only to find that the card is in conflict with an already scheduled lesson in the same room, or you switch to the class view and see the current class already has a lesson in that period. And then you end up constantly switching views (and trying to memorize them!?) in order to find a suitable card position, which is rather annoying, you will agree. Guess what? Not anymore.

We have added a new timetabling feature to improve your efficiency: the possibility to add extra timetable view(s). These views are fully interactive, just like the main view, meaning you can use all timetabling tools as usual, e.g. timetable generator, drag & drop, pin, sponge, undo/redo, etc. and all opened timetable views will be automatically updated.

To open extra timetable view just click on teacher, class, room or subject icon in the bottom left corner when a card is selected. You can easily adjust position and size of extra view which best fits your screen, and by clicking the first column you can navigate to single extra view.

In the screenshot below there is a class view, room view and two single teacher views all on one screen (!), so you can easily find the perfect position for a specific lesson. Currently selected card in one view will be highlighted in all other views. Also, when doing drag & drop, the shadow of the card being dragged will be shown in all opened views which allow you to track drop position, e.g. check that drop position is not already scheduled in another view.

School timetable extra view

Main view with 3 extra views added

Feel free to use your imagination and creativity in organizing extra views and see where it gets you. We are excited to see how you are going to use this unique timetabling feature in your school timetables.

Online school software at full speed

Online services like Facebook, Gmail and others deliver only a small amount of data initially (e.g. only the first 20 statuses or 50 emails...). The general idea is to get the smallest data set possible and to work correctly even on slow Internet connections.

One of the challenges we at Prime Timetable face while creating the world's first online school timetable software is that all school data should be loaded before the timetable is drawn on the initial screen. That means that all entered subjects, rooms, teachers, classes and their groups and lessons, including various constraints, need to be loaded first. In large schools/colleges with 500 and more subjects/teachers that can take a while.

We have taken this challenge seriously and made lots of optimizations for loading, saving and importing timetables:

  • All data sent over the wire is compressed, making it 5-20x smaller than before.
  • Once a timetable is loaded, it is stored on your computer, so the next time it is opened directly from your computer (of course, in the background we check if there are changes on the server and load them too).
  • When saving, all timetable changes are instantly saved on your computer first, so that you can immediately continue your timetabling work, while changes are transferred to our server in the background.

We believe that speed of Prime Timetable will pleasently surprise you. For those with poor internet connection we offer offline timetabling, while the rest of you can enjoy online timetabling at full speed.

Online and offline timetabling

One of the first feedbacks we've received was from a school which doesn't have full-time Internet access, requesting offline version of our software. Ironical, isn't it? We thought that we live in an online world where Internet connection is always accessible. But we were wrong. After some time, we've received similar feedback from other schools which don't like reliable Internet connection requirement, too.

Therefore, we are very happy to announce that from this day on we will support both online and offline school timetabling for our customers. Even if your Internet connection is dropped or you are only occasionally connected you can still continue working on your timetables. When Internet connection is back your local changes will be synchronized with our server so that you can share your timetable with others.

Browsing timetables using back and forward

Prime Timetable is an online school timetable service that works in your browser of choice. It is quite common that you will want to use the browser's back and forward button to browse through previously opened timetables. This has been possible since the beginning, but we have made some improvements that we would like to share with you:

  • Clicking back or forward button will not refresh the web page, meaning previous or next timetable will be opened and its cards will immediately fly into existing timetable view.
  • If current view is single entity view, then default timetable view (specified in options) will show up instead.
  • You can click on back or forward button while timetable setup window is open and all grids and view will be refreshed as well. The browser's URL will be changed and you can copy/paste timetable link.
  • Browsing through previously opened timetables is a lot faster now, almost instant, because we are caching opened timetables on your computer. However, in the background we will check if some other user has made changes in the meantime and load them.

These are all small improvements, but we think that it will make browsing timetables a lot faster and better. Happy timetable browsing!

4/20/2011  browser, tips & tricks

Request a timetabling feature or vote for existing ones

Your feedback is crucial and therefore we have just started Prime Timetable user voice. The general idea is that you can shape Prime Timetable to suite your needs by entering a new idea or voting for existing ones. So, how does user voice work?

Enter a new idea

If you have an idea how to improve Prime Timetable, visit Prime Timetable user voice and write down your idea. If a similar idea doesn't already exist, click on "Create new idea" button.

Vote for existing idea

Every visitor has 10 votes. Use them to vote for features/ideas that are most important for you. The more votes a specific feature has, the more likely it will be implemented first. When a feature is implemented you will get a notification and your votes back.

Fake teacher and class in Prime Timetable

In order to enter a lesson the following questions need to be answered: who, what and where? But what if there isn't a class for a lesson (e.g. teacher meetings), or a teacher for a particular activity isn't needed (e.g. school recess, lunch), or there is neither teacher nor class (e.g. sports events)? In Prime Timetable, these non-existing teachers and classes are referred to as "fake".

It is recommended that fake teachers and classes are entered prior to entering a lesson. For instance, add a fake class and subject called "Teacher meeting" and then add a lesson by selecting teachers who attend that meeting and a fake class "Teacher meeting". Another example: add a teacher and subject called "School recess" and then add a lesson by selecting classes that have a recess and a teacher called "School recess".

When you enter a lesson without specifying a teacher or a class, Prime Timetable will create a "Fake teacher" or "Fake class" for you.

Every resource that has short name set to "-" (minus sign) is considered fake. Fake lessons is any lesson that contains fake resource and can be excluded from automatic timetable generator in Help > Options.

You can be very creative in creating fake teachers and classes so that every school lesson/activity is displayed in all timetable views as a card available for manual adjusting, e.g. drag & drop. Additionally, fake teachers and classes can have their time request specified which automatic timetable generator can also take into account.

In a nutshell, sometimes fake can genuinely improve your timetable ;).

Single class, teacher, room and subject timetable view

Master timetable view shows all classes, teachers, rooms or subjects in one place. Individual or single timetable view shows only one class, teacher, room or subject. To switch to single timetable view, you need to select a view (class, teacher, room or subject) by clicking view indicator icon View indicator icon and then click on the first column in the desired timetable row.

To revert to entire timetable view, press Esc key or select entire view by clicking view indicator icon.

Once you are in single timetable view you can still use all functionalities just like in entire view. That means you can drag & drop (undo/redo), use pin to pin/unpin, sponge to remove cards, or use zoom in and zoom out. In order to select other (single) timetable views, use the following keyboard shortcuts:

  • Switch to previous/next entire or single view - [Ctrl + Alt + Up/Down arrow]
  • Switch to first/last entire or single view – [Ctrl + Alt + Home/End]

To print single timetable view use browser's print button or select Print in main menu. Also, you can export single timetable view to Html or Jpeg document by choosing "Owl > Save as".

Below is a screenshot of single class timetable view:

Class school timetable screenshot

individual class/grade timetable screenshot

Prime Timetable - school timetable software as a service

We are proud to bring you the world's first school timetable software offered as a web service - Prime Timetable. Software as a service (SaaS) also referred to as 'software on demand' provides the following advantages:

  • Access from virtually anywhere in the world via Internet browser
  • Freemium business model – use it for free, pay for advanced options
  • Timetabling on more platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, phones and tablets
  • Lower subscription price for licensed customers (check our prices)
  • Allows multiple user online collaboration on a single timetable
  • Our instant support while working on your timetable
  • Frequent application updates on monthly, weekly or even daily basis (all updates are free of charge)
  • Storing timetables on our secure servers with regular daily backups (even if you delete your timetable by mistake, we can restore it for you)

With all these advantages over traditional school timetable software we are hoping you will enjoy timetabling more.

Preview new version of Prime Timetable

In the recent version of Prime Timetable we have added Preview new version option in main menu. Clicking it your current timetable will be opened in the upcoming Prime Timetable 2.0.

Here is the short list of what's new in Prime Timetable 2.0:

  • Instead of ribbon, there is only a school board with instantly available tools on board frame leaving more space for your timetables.
  • There is a new optimized menu when you click the owl in the top left corner.
  • New interactive board tools: Pin, Sponge and Zoom which make timetabling more fun.
  • New Help -> Options where you can configure application as best suits your needs.
  • User interface is redesigned and more natural with curved lines and nature associations (e.g. form background looks like a piece of paper).
  • There are lots of animations which make application smoother.
  • Performances are increased. For instance, timetable view is rendered much faster in larger timetables.

All these changes make timetabling faster, easier and more fun.

9/18/2010  preview, release, redesign