Posts tagged tips & tricks
- timetable = schedule
- class = grade
- subject = course or activity, and
- lessons = sections.
Feeling confused? Check basic timetabling terms.
Creating a free account
Days and periods
Subjects, rooms, teachers and classes
Saving changes and history
Share with colleagues
Publish to the web
One of the main purposes of school scheduling/timetabling software is to help schools with automatic timetable generation and validation. In order to use automatic generator and validator you should follow the basic timetabling rule which says:
One school resource during one school period can be scheduled in only one lesson. Otherwise, there is a conflict.
In the Prime Timetable, the conflicted cards are rotated so you can easily spot and fix them. There are two common approaches to fixing conflicts:
- Add more than one teacher or class/group in the lesson or remove redundant lessons/cards.
- Just ignore conflicted cards.
Add more than one teacher or class/group
If there is more than one teacher or more than one class/group attending a lesson, you should not create more than one lesson for it. The example is in the screenshot below. Teachers John and Jim are giving lectures for two classes/grades 7A and 7B at the same time.
When adding a new lesson (Manage > Lessons > Add) just add another teacher or class/group to it. Thus, you’ve created only 1 lesson/card and therefore there are no conflicts/rotation and automatic timetable generation and validation will work as expected.
If for some reason you want to keep the position of conflicted cards and still take advantage of automatic timetable generation and validation, you might want to ignore them.
In this screenshot there are lots of classes/grades using the Fellowship Hall/Gym at the same time, which creates many conflicts in the room view. Nevertheless, you can create only one lesson and include all those classes or just ignore the Gym.
In order to ignore cards, do the following:
- Set “-” (without quotes) as a short name for any school resource which is part of the lesson/card you want to ignore. For instance, you can set short name to “-” for subject Lunch or for Gym room.
- Check Help > Options > Exclude fake lessons while generating timetable.
- Click Ok.
And that’s all you need to do. Automatic timetable generator will just ignore those cards and treat them as if they are not part of the timetable.
There is a new way of defining constraints using a marker. Below method is deprecated.
The most common use of timetabling software is to mark certain periods as forbidden for teachers, rooms, classes or subjects and let automatic timetable generator schedule lessons properly. In other cases when you want to mark certain periods as unwanted or mandatory for teacher, room, class or subject, just follow the below procedure, e.g. for setting mandatory or unwanted subject position:
- Check Help > Options > Show Marks button in manage grids.
- Choose Manage > Subjects > Select specific subject in grid > Marks.
- Set allowed number of unwanted or mandatory lessons per week and per day.
By setting allowed number of unwanted or mandatory lessons you are sending a directive to automatic timetable generator when to consider a timetable correct. If those numbers are set to “Arbitrary” (which is a default value), unwanted and mandatory settings will be ignored by automatic timetable generator.
Screenshot of setting mandatory (blue plus sign) and unwanted (yellow exclamation sign) lessons for Physics in Example 3
Prime Timetable makes it easy to exchange school data with other software, whether you need to import or export. In both cases exchanging data reduces needless retyping.
How to import school data from Microsoft Office and Google Docs?
Whenever you open an empty timetable the owl will remind you about all importing options, so you don’t have to remember them.
Typically, you would want to import, e.g. list of teachers already entered in Microsoft Excel or Word or Google Docs. Make a selection, copy (Ctrl + C) and paste it (Ctrl + V) into the proper (teacher’s) data grid in the Prime Timetable. Our software will smartly recognize the format and do the parsing and importing for you.
If your data is stored in CSV (comma separated value) file, just drag that file from your desktop directly into the data grid and that’s it. Again, the software will recognize the format and import all data.
Copy and paste works across all data grids in our software, which means you can copy rows from one timetable and paste them into another one.
How to export school data to Microsoft Office and Google Docs?
You can export any data from Prime Timetable into Microsoft Office and Google Docs. Just select the desired data grid rows, copy (Ctrl + C) and paste them (Ctrl + V) into e.g. Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word. Data grid header will also be included as displayed in the screenshot below.
We believe that exchanging data with widely used software (Microsoft Office, Google Docs and others) will significantly improve your efficiency. Happy data exchanging!
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!
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 .
If you use some repetitive operations you will find that using the keyboard is often faster than using the mouse. For the most effective timetabling, you can use the following keyboard shortcuts:
General keyboard shortcuts
- Online Help – F1
- Save timetable changes - F2 or [Ctrl + S]
- Full screen mode - F11
- Open timetables - [Ctrl + Alt + 0] or [Ctrl + 0]
- Create new timetable – [Ctrl + Alt + N]
- Undo - [Ctrl + Z]
- Redo - [Ctrl + Y]
- Generate new timetable - [Ctrl + G]
- Improve existing timetable - [Ctrl + I]
- Validate timetable - [Ctrl + V]
- Close window - Esc
- Manage classes - [Ctrl + Alt + C]
- Manage teachers - [Ctrl + Alt + T]
- Manage rooms - [Ctrl + Alt + R]
- Manage subjects - [Ctrl + Alt + S]
- Manage lessons - [Ctrl + Alt + L]
Use Left and Right arrow keys to navigate between tabs.
- Switch to class view - [Ctrl + Alt + 1]
- Switch to teacher view - [Ctrl + Alt + 2]
- Switch to room view - [Ctrl + Alt + 3]
- Switch to subject view - [Ctrl + Alt + 4]
- 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]
- Revert from single to entire timetable view - Esc
- Select/deselect sponge tool - [Ctrl + Backspace]
- Select/deselect pin tool - [Ctrl + (.)]
- Zoom in - [Ctrl + (+)]
- Zoom out - [Ctrl + (-)]
- Drop selected tool - Esc
When using pin or sponge, [Ctrl + mouse click] affects current row, [Alt + mouse click] affects current column and [Shift + mouse click] affects whole timetable.
- Add new item - A or Space or Insert or (+)
- Edit selected item - E or Enter or [Mouse left double click]
- Remove selected item(s) – Backspace or Delete
- Copy selected item - C or (*)
- Time request - T
- Multi-selection - [Ctrl + click]
- Range-selection - [Shift + click]
- Select all items - [Ctrl + A]
- Switch to previous/next tab – Left/Right arrow
* On Mac OS X, use Cmd instead of Ctrl key.
We hope you will find these keyboard shortcuts useful and that they will improve your timetabling work.
Sponge tool is located in the bottom right corner of the board and is used to remove cards from timetable.
Using sponge tool is simple; just click sponge tool (or press [Ctrl + Backspace] key) to select it and then click card(s) you want to remove. Hold mouse left button to remove more cards.
How to remove the whole timetable or specific day?
With sponge tool selected, click on day or period (in timetable header) to remove the whole day/period or click on the first column in the timetable row to remove the whole row.
There are also keyboard shortcuts: Shift key affects the whole timetable, Control key affects the row and Alt key affects the current column. You can do the same even without using sponge tool, e.g. click on sponge tool with Shift key pressed and all timetable cards will be removed.
To drop sponge tool just click tool once again or click on an empty timetable period or use Esc key.
As always, undo and redo can be used to revert or to redo the last timetable change.
Pin tool is used to pin/unpin card(s) on a specific position. Pin tool is located in the bottom right corner of the board.
Using pin tool is simple, just click pin tool to select it and then click card(s) you want to pin/unpin.
Pinned cards can’t be moved by drag & drop and won’t be relocated while generating or improving timetable.
When to use pin tool?
Pin tool is useful when you are satisfied with card(s) position and you want to assure that those cards won’t be moved by starting the generator or by improving the existing timetable.
How to pin/unpin faster?
With pin tool selected click on day or period (in timetable header) to pin/unpin the whole day or period or click on a timetable row (first column) to pin/unpin the whole row.
There are also keyboard shortcuts: Shift key affects the whole timetable, Control key affects the row and Alt key affects the current column. You can do the same even without using pin tool, e.g. click on pin tool with Shift key pressed and all timetable cards will be pinned.
To drop tool just click tool once again or click on an empty timetable period or use Esc key.
As always, undo and redo can be used to revert or to redo the last timetable change.