School scheduling/timetabling software
Here is our take on basic school timetabling terms as we use them in the Prime Timetable. Complicated terms and terms specific to some countries or regions have been avoided on purpose. Interpret the following timetabling terms as best suits your organization, e.g. use ‘college’ or ‘university’ instead of ‘school’, or ‘pupil’ instead of ‘student’, etc.
Institution designed to allow and encourage student groups to attend school activities under the supervision of teachers.
Teacher / Educator / Professor / Tutor / Instructor
Person who teaches, guides, instructs, trains or helps another in the process of learning knowledge.
Learner, or someone who attends an educational institution.
Place where teaching, learning or any other school activity can occur, e.g. biology room, history room, but also dining room, reception hall, teachers’ room etc.
Group of students or pupils attending a specific course or lesson.
Different set of groups forming a class, e.g. 5A class has 2 divisions: one consisting of a group of boys and girls, and the other consisting of a group of English and French students.
Class, Teacher or Room
Subject / Activity
Activity that includes at least one school resource, e.g. Maths, English, Biology, but also school recess, lunch, some non-class activities like teacher meetings, sport events, etc.
Period / Time slot
Block of time used for lessons
Structured period of time where a school activity is intended to occur.
Table which displays lessons.
Visual representation of a lesson.
Card waiting to be scheduled, temporarily placed outside the timetable.
Card locked on a specific period, meaning it won’t be rescheduled during automatic timetable generation, e.g. a timetabler is already satisfied with the card’s position.
Table that displays lessons as cards designed for drag & drop and other scheduling work, e.g. class view, teacher view, room view, 5A class view, etc.
Timetabling / Scheduling
Process of creating a school timetable and publishing it to the Web for sharing or printing.
Person who creates a school timetable.
The basic timetabling rule
One school resource during one school period can be scheduled in only one lesson. Otherwise, there is a conflict!
Group of cards on the same position or overlapping each other.
Window / Gap
Empty period between school activities.
Specifying whether a particular school resource or activity is allowed, forbidden, unwanted or mandatory in a certain period.
Requirement which should be satisfied in the generated timetable, e.g. setting that windows are forbidden for all classes.
Automatic timetable generator
Software which automatically creates a school timetable based on provided input.
Process of creating a timetable manually by dragging cards.
Process of validating a timetable, e.g. verifying that there are no conflicts and that all specified constraints and time requests are met.
School scheduling/timetable software
Software designed to simplify scheduling/timetabling process.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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 online service will pleasently surprise you. Don’t worry about technical details (yes, we use server cache and pre-fetch techniques too) because you will never even notice them, unless you are curios and read our blog . For all of you out there who have special needs, we offer offline timetabling, while the rest of you can enjoy online timetabling at full speed.
Recently we got some pretty large schools/colleges using Prime Timetable with number of subjects/teachers as high as 500 (!) and even more. That makes up to 20000+ timetable cards to display in the school timetable, so we have decided to devote some time to timetable view performances. Here are some results that are especially visible in bigger timetables:
- Displaying timetable view is now 10-20x faster than it was before.
- No need to wait for timetable to finish drawing. You can use application while timetable is being drawn.
- Timetable is continually displayed so you get immediate response.
- Prime Timetable will automatically adjust according to your computer’s performances, e.g. faster computers will display the animation of cards moving, fading, etc., while slower computers won’t have such smooth experience.
- Using zoom in and zoom out is instant, without timetable view refreshing.
Overall, we are pleased with the new timetable view performances and hope you will like them too. Just don’t tell us that your school has 10000 teachers .
When Prime Timetable 1.0 was released back in June 2009, 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 so we have built the world’s first online school timetable software as a service. 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.
For our premium customers we’ve made one step further in enabling offline timetabling work. Just go to Help -> Options and click Install Prime Timetable button which will install Prime Timetable on your computer. You will get the newly installed program in Program Files and a new desktop icon. Starting Prime Timetable from your desktop allows you to access your timetables whenever you want with or without Internet connection and thus avoid going to Prime Timetable web site and signing in.
And now, please forgive me, I need to finish some timetabling work while I’m offline. Disconnecting, good bye.
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!
A timetabler needs to enter lots of data in order to create a timetable, such as subjects, rooms, teachers, classes and groups and most importantly: lessons.
To go directly on lesson tab click owl and select “Manage lessons”. In the left pane, there is a lesson filter displayed as a tree view with items such as: Teachers, Classes, Subjects and Rooms. When one of them is clicked global statistics for teachers, classes, subjects or rooms and all lessons will be displayed. For instance, when Classes is clicked, total number of lessons as well as number of entered classes are displayed at the top of the lesson’s data grid.
Expanding top items in the left pane and selecting single entity will display single timetable statistics for selected teacher, class (or group), subject or room as well as lessons count. For instance, selected class 101 has 25 lessons in this screenshot below:
This way the timetabler can easily validate that number of entered teachers, classes, subjects, rooms and lessons is correct.
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?
Entering 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.
How long do I have to wait for a specific feature?
Since Prime Timetable is an online school timetable software as a service, we regularly publish updates on daily and weekly basis. Therefore you can expect the most voted feature(s) to appear within a month or sooner.
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 .