When you launch the program, the first thing you need to do is open a file. You can open a local file (such as one of the included sample files), or open a file on your server (you are provided with the server's credentials when you purchase a subscription for the software). This section describes how to open a file, connect to a server and open a file on the server.
The Institution pane is where you fill in the institution's details. It's also where you can configure the vocabulary that is used throughout the program to refer to the different types of resources (e.g. Teachers or Instructors; Activities or Classes; etc.). The last page in this pane is the properties page which allows to add custom properties (fields which contain textual data) for resources.
The Resources pane is the database of the program. It's where you enter the terms (semesters), days, time-scales/periods, subjects, groups, students, teachers, rooms and equipment. You can fill in the resources manually one-by-one, or import them (described in the last chapter of the user's guide). This section describes the role of each type of resource, how to enter resources, how to edit their properties and the meaning of each property.
Activities are the building blocks of the timetable. An activity combines several resources which are scheduled together. For example: a subject, a teacher, a group of students and a room - all can form a single activity. When that activity is scheduled, all its participating resources are booked for that activity. So the process of scheduling is essentially the process of determining when each activity takes place. This section describes how activities and sets (a Set unites multiple simultaneous activities) are entered in the Activities pane and explains the different properties of activities.
In the Interactive mode, activities are scheduled using drag and drop. This section describes the exact steps to schedule activities like this. It also explains how to move existing cells (a Cell is a single scheduled occurrence of an activity), copy them, delete them and how to edit their properties.
A Conflict is a situation in which two activities are scheduled which somehow interfere with one another. The most common conflict is a double booked resource: a double booked room for example. The program monitors everything you do and always warns you if a conflict arises due to your recent change. This section describes the different types of conflicts, the "Conflicts Window" (which is the warning shown when a conflict is detected) and the "Conflicts Pane" (which is a window that lists all the existing conflicts in the timetable).
The Combinations engine is a powerful semi-automatic tool which can help find multi-step possibilities to move a cell, schedule an activity, fill a cell or move an activity into a different room - without creating any conflicts. This section describes the Combinations pane and how it can help you overcome "dead-end" situations in which there is no easy or straightforward way to accomplish any of the above tasks.
For the automatic timetable construction to achieve desirable results, the program needs to know your exact requirements from the constructed timetable. Constraints allow you to convey these requirements to the software by defining upper and lower limits on various aspects of the timetable. For example, you can limit the number of Gaps (a Gap is a free period in the middle of the day) in a teacher's timetable; or, you can limit the number of times an activity can be scheduled on a single day. There are many types of constraints. This section describes the available constraints and how they are entered.
In the Automatic mode the program constructs the timetable based on the data and the constraints that you have entered. It can generate the timetable completely from scratch or complete a partially constructed timetable. If you change the constraints at some point, the program knows how to take the existing timetable and adjust it to accommodate for the new constraints. This chapter describes how to launch the automatic solver and explains in high level how it operates.
In most schools, the schedule is planned in advance before the beginning of the semester. However, when the semester begins, each day may require accommodating for unanticipated changes such as sick leaves or other unplanned events. By switching to the Changes mode you can record such daily changes easily. This section explains exactly how this is done.
A Report is a textual table of rows and columns. There are various types of reports which the program can generate based on the data that you have entered and the activities that you have scheduled. This section sums up all the types of the reports, explains how to apply filters to them, sort them and configure their contents and appearance.
The timetable and the reports can be printed or exported. The graphical timetable can be exported to a PDF file, an HTML web-site or a slideshow presentation. The textual reports can also be exported to a text file (such as a CSV file) which can then be opened in Excel for example. This section explains how this is done and describes the available print/export configurations.
The software has a very powerful import capability. You can import text files, XML files, Access databases and even data from any web-site. The program accepts virtually any format of imported data because when you import a file, you tell the program which kind of data (e.g. names of students) resides in each column or field of the imported file. This section demonstrates how to import resources, activities and even an entire timetable.