The Resources pane is the second one after the Institution pane. You can select it by clicking on "Resources" at the right side of the workspace.
The Resources pane is divided to several pages, one page for each type of resource. Use the toolbar at the top of the pane to navigate between these pages.
It is important to understand the role of each type of resource in the timetabling process and their limitations. For example, a human resource (such as a teacher or a student) cannot be scheduled to two different activities at the same time (unless explicitly uniting the activities into a "Set") whereas room or equipment resources allow double booking depending on their properties like how large a room is or how many items of the same kind of equipment are in stock.
It is also important to understand that resources are not the ones that are actually scheduled – you never schedule a standalone resource. What you do schedule is Activities. An activity is formed by associating one or more resources together. Even if only a single resource needs to be scheduled, an activity has to be created for that single resource. Whenever an activity is scheduled, all its associated resources are considered as scheduled as well. The scheduled activity will appear in all their personal schedules.
There are 2 types of time resources: days and periods. There are 3 types of physical resources: human resources (groups, students and teachers), location resources (you may know them as rooms or buildings) and equipment resources. There is 1 type of conceptual resources: thematic resources (subjects and sub-subjects). An activity can include resources of any type. An activity does not necessarily have to include all the types of resources.
The “Days” page simply allows you to enter the day names for which you will be constructing the timetable. Usually these days are generic, “template like” days, which form the basis of a weekly or a bi-weekly timetable. You can enter up to 14 days.
To add days to the list, click on the green plus button at the right toolbar. A menu will open up with the following options:
- Weekdays – One week and 7 days will be added. The days will have the weekday names Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If needed, you can delete the unnecessary weekdays after adding them.
- Day – One day will be added.
To delete a day, select it by clicking on it and then click on the red minus button at the right toolbar. You can also reorder days using the black up and down buttons at the right. Select an item in the list and then use these buttons to move it to a different position.
If you click on a day in the list, the Properties pane will display its properties. Here are the available properties.
- Name – The full name of the day.
- Abbreviated – The short version of the day's name. It can be displayed in the schedule instead of the full name. [Optional property]
- Weekday – The weekday(s) which this day is mapped to. Relevant to the Changes module only. When the program has to map weeks and days to actual calendar dates, it needs to know which weekdays map to which days. This is especially important to define in case of a few alternating days such as Day 1 and Day 2 which could for instance be mapped to Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Tuesday, Thursday (accordingly). [Optional property]
- Week – This property contains the parent week of this day.
- Continues to Next? – If set to "Yes", this means that the next day succeeds this day. In this case, if a night shift starts on the current day, the program will know that it fluently continues on the following day. Relevant only in case there are night shifts in your institution. [Optional property]
The second page in the Resources pane is the Periods page. Periods are usually displayed in the Y-axis of the timetable (although the axes can be flipped). They can have numbers or textual names. Each period has a starting and ending time. There can only be one set of periods for the entire institution in a single file. The maximal number of periods is 16.
To add periods to the list, click on the green plus button at the right toolbar. You will have the following options to choose from.
- Period – Adds a single period to the list.
- Periods (5) – Adds 5 periods to the list.
You can rearrange the periods in the list using the black up and down arrows at the right toolbar. Select a period and then use these arrows to move the period up or down in the list.
Here are the properties of a period.
- Name – The name of the period. It can have a numeric or textual value.
- Abbreviated – The short version of the period's name. It is possible to have the program display the abbreviated names instead of the full names in the view settings.
- Start Time – The start time of this period.
- End Time – The end time of this period.
The third page in the Resources pane is the Subjects page.
Each activity can be assigned one or more subjects. A subject is not a physical resource, thus it does not have the capability of causing conflicts due to double booking. However, subjects serve several important other purposes.
First, they provide a title for what an activity is all about and encompass the idea of what people are doing by participating in an activity. The subject of an activity appears in each cell in which the activity is scheduled. Like any resource, a subject can be assigned a color, and one of the options is to have all the cells in which a subject is scheduled have the background (or text) color of the subject.
Second, the program allows a centralized view of all the scheduled activities of a specific subject on any day. Because subjects can be organized in a hierarchy of main subjects, sub-subjects, sub-sub-subjects (and so on), this is especially comfortable because when you view the schedule of a subject, you also see all its sub-subjects' activities. Organizationally-wise this can be an advantage for large institutions.
Subjects also play an important role in the enrollment of students to activities. You see, instead of pre-enrolling students to activities, there is the possibility of selecting "elective" subjects for students. Once a student has elected a subject, the program can offer a user friendly selection of that subject's activities for the student, together with the information of which of these activities would not cause a conflict in the student's timetable.
To add subject(s) to the list, click on the green plus button at the right toolbar. A menu will be shown with two options: Subject and Subjects (5). The first option adds one subject to the list and the second adds 5 subjects. You can edit the selected subject's properties in the Properties pane. Here are the available properties.
- Name – The full name of a subject.
- Abbreviated – The short version of the subject's name. It can be displayed in the timetable instead of the full name by changing this in the timetable's view settings.
- Color – A color associated with the subject. This property is optional. If filled, it's possible to define that all the cells in which the subject is scheduled be painted with this color. This can be defined in the view settings.
- Sub Subject of – This is where you can turn a subject into a sub-subject of one or more "parent" subjects. In the list the subject will appear underneath all its parent subjects. All the activities of sub-subjects appear in their parent subject's timetable.
- Students – This is a "two-way" property, meaning that it's possible to select here the elective students for a theme, and it is equally possible to select the elective subjects of a student via students' properties later on in the Students page. In any case, both properties sum up the enrolled resources of the opposite kind (this property right here will sum up all the students which have elected this subject).
To delete a subject, select it and click on the red minus button at the right toolbar. To change the order of subjects, select a subject and then use the black up and down arrows at the right to move it up or down. You can also sort the list by clicking on a column title.
A group is a gathering of people which share a common interest or activity. A group can be symbolic or explicit. This means that a group can be created with or without actually entering its students as separate resources which are enrolled to it. When the group is symbolic, the program would raise a conflict only when two activities of that group are scheduled at the same time (so the group itself is double booked). When a group contains explicit students, the program would also raise a conflict when any of the enrolled students is booked at the same time as the group is.
Groups can have sub-groups. A group can be both a sub-group and a "parent" group (have sub groups on its own). A group can be a sub-group of multiple parent groups. Such a group will appear underneath each of its parent groups in the list. All the sub-group's scheduled activities appear in the timetables of all its parent groups (and their parent groups as well and so on). Two sub groups of the same parent group are not considered as conflicting (even though they share the same parent) unless there is at least one explicit student who is enrolled to both of them. In such a case the program would raise a conflict upon attempting to schedule them at overlapping times.
Although we have not reached the chapter explaining about activities yet, it should be clear by now that activities are the building blocks of a schedule and they are the ones being scheduled. Now, as you know, an activity is a bundle of resources. Both groups and standalone students can be assigned to an activity. This raises the question of what would be the benefit of creating a group, then enrolling students to the group and then creating an activity for that group compared to – skipping the group creation, creating an activity straight ahead and enrolling the students directly to the activity. Well, there may be two benefits depending on the circumstances. First, if the same group of students takes part in more than one activity, it makes more sense to create a group once, enroll the students to the group, and then go ahead and select that group for all its activities instead of selecting students individually. Second, by creating a group resource, you get the possibility of viewing the group's schedule, and seeing all its scheduled activities. Otherwise you only have the possibility of viewing individual students' schedules. If any of these two benefits is relevant, it makes sense to create groups. Otherwise there is no point and you can enroll students directly to activities (note that we have not been talking about symbolic groups here, only about groups which explicitly list their students).
Since the program allows you to monitor capacity conflicts, such as when too many people are scheduled in one room, symbolic groups which do not explicitly list their students still have the option to manually enter their overall number of students. This way you can benefit from not having to worry about capacity overruns without actually entering all the student names in the database.
Although in the above explanation we have been referencing students, it is equally possible to enlist teachers in groups. Groups have a property to enter enrolled teachers just like they have a property to enter students. A group may contain both. However, if an activity contains a single teacher it is more comfortable to enlist the teacher directly in the activity, and not bundle him/her with the group. If there are several teachers involved who do form some sort of a group, it may be worthwhile to consider creating a dedicated group resource for those teachers.
To add one or more groups to the list, click on the green plus button at the right toolbar. You will see two options. The first one ("Group") adds a single group to the list and the second one ("Groups (5)") adds 5 groups to the list. A group has the following properties.
- Name – The full name of the group.
- Abbreviated – The short version of the group's name. You can toggle between displaying full or short group names in the timetable or in lists all over the program.
- Color – The associated group's color. Cells in which the group is scheduled can be painted with this color.
- Sub Group of – A selection of the parent groups of this group. A sub group appears under all its parent groups in the list.
- Students – A selection of the students who are enrolled to this group. This is a two-way property. Students also have a property in which they can select the groups in which they take part.
- Teachers – A selection of the teachers who are enrolled to this group. This is also a two-way property with regard to teachers.
You can rearrange groups using the black up and down arrows at the right toolbar. You can also sort the list by clicking on a column title. To delete a group, select it and click on the red minus button. You can select multiple items in the list by holding down the Ctrl key while clicking on an item.
A student is a human individual who takes part in one or more groups or activities. Like all human resources, trying to schedule a student in two different activities at the same time would cause a conflict (unless the activities are united into a "Set", something that's explained later). As explained in the previous section about groups, students can be enrolled to groups or directly to activities (or of course a mix of both). When a student is enrolled to a group, any activity which the group is part of is considered as an activity in which the student also takes part.
Students can also be enrolled to specific cells. This means that an activity can be created without specifying students at all, and individual scheduled cells of that activity can have various students assigned to them manually on the fly, after they are already scheduled. Each cell can have a different list of students. This is somewhat contradictory to the idea that complete activities must be created in advance, but it does provide a degree of freedom required by some institutions when it comes to student enrollment. The selection of students for a cell takes place in the Properties pane, as you will see later when cells' properties are explained.
Students can also be enrolled to elective subjects. Enrolling a student to a subject means that the student is required to take part in an activity of that subject, but the actual activity is yet unknown (assuming of course that there is more than one activity of that sort). Now, once you enter the activities, the program becomes aware of which activities are associated with which subjects. This makes it possible then to offer you a selection of the relevant activities for each student, and even point out whether enrolling the student to any of these activities would cause a conflict in his/her schedule.
Since a list of students can be a very long list in large institutions, there are 3 ways to display that list. The first is the regular format in which all the students are listed and can be sorted alphabetically. In the second format the students are arranged by groups. In this format the list contains groups at its top level, and underneath each group is the list of students enrolled to that group. The 3rd way to organize the list is by subjects. This is just like groups, only now subjects appear as the top level items in the list and underneath each subject are the students who elected that subject. The format can be selected in a tab above the list of students. The format can also be selected in all popup lists throughout the program. There it is selected in a tab which appears below the popup list.
To add one or more students to the list, click on the green plus button at the right toolbar. You will see two options. The first one ("Student") adds a single student to the list and the second one ("Students (5)") adds 5 students to the list. A student has the following properties.
- Name – The full name of the student. It may contain both the last name and the first name.
Abbreviated – The short version of the name, if applicable.
- Color – The color associated with the student. It's possible to request the program to paint all the cells in which the student is scheduled with this background color.
- Groups – This is the property which allows enrolling the student to groups. It is a two-way property. Groups also have a parallel property in which students can be selected.
- Activities – This property sums up the activities to which the student is directly enrolled. The actual assignment of the student to activities is usually done in the Activities pane and not here.
- Subjects – The student's elective subjects. This is where a student can be enrolled to subjects. The assignment of the student to groups or activities based on these elective subjects is explained later because a prerequisite of this process is having entered activities, and we haven't got to explaining about activities entry yet. At this stage it's enough to select the subjects that this student is interested in or just leave this property empty.
You can rearrange students using the black up and down arrows at the right toolbar. You can also sort the list by clicking on a column title. To delete a student, select the appropriate row and click on the red minus button. You can select multiple items in the list by holding down the Ctrl key while clicking on an item.
A teacher is a human individual who takes part in groups or activities. Usually teachers are enrolled directly to activities, although they can be enrolled to groups as well. Most commonly, an activity has a single teacher and multiple students (but this is not mandatory). Like all human resources, scheduling a teacher in two activities with overlapping times causes a "double booking" conflict in the teacher's timetable.
There is one advantage to creating groups of teachers and that is the ability to view team timetables. By enrolling several teachers into a group you are in fact creating a team group resource. Even if you do not create any activities for that group, it could still be beneficial to create the group because it would allow you to view all its team members' activities in the same schedule. This is helpful when several teachers have something in common and you are interested in quickly viewing their combined timetable (which is an "intersection" of all their personal timetables).
To add one or more teachers to the list, click on the green plus button at the right toolbar. You will see two options. The first one ("Teacher") adds a single teacher to the list and the second one ("Teachers (5)") adds 5 teachers to the list. A teacher has the following properties.
- Name – The full name of the person. It may contain both the last and the first names.
- Abbreviated – The short version of the person's name, if applicable.
- Color – The color associated with the teacher. By default, all the cells in which the teacher is scheduled are painted with this background color.
- Groups – A selection of the groups in which the teacher takes part. Every activity which one of these groups is a part of will appear in the teacher's timetable as well.
You can rearrange teachers using the black up and down arrows at the right toolbar. You can also sort the list by clicking on a column title. To delete a teacher, select the appropriate row and click on the red minus button. You can select multiple items in the list by holding down the Ctrl key while clicking on an item.
Rooms can be organized in a hierarchy of "parent" locations and sub-locations. The simplest example is buildings being the "parent" locations and rooms being the sub-locations. The existence of "parent" locations does provide the possibility of displaying their sub-locations' combined schedules (such as all the activities taking place in a certain building) as well as defining distances between buildings, but if these features are not required it is perfectly reasonable to define all the rooms as a single list without using the hierarchical structure.
In contrast to other resources, a room is a resource which does allow multiple activities, groups or individuals scheduled in it at the same time – but only up to a predefined capacity. Once that capacity is overrun, a conflict is declared by the program. For each room it is possible to specify 4 separate maximum values: the maximal amount of students, teachers, groups and activities which can fit in that room. It is also possible to set these 4 capacities to unlimited values.
Rooms and buildings can specify distances from other rooms or buildings. A distance, in this case, is the average time it takes to travel from one room to another. These distances are closely monitored by the program when you schedule activities. If a person is scheduled in two activities, each activity being in a different room, the program verifies that the duration of time between the moment the first activity ends and the moment the second activity begins (i.e. the gap between them) is at least the specified distance between these two rooms (or buildings). If it's not, the program will warn you about a distance conflict.
Each occurrence (scheduled cell) of the same activity can have a different room assigned to it. This means that it is possible to leave the room field of an activity empty or with a few selected optional values, and assign the room separately for each cell during the actual scheduling phase (and not during the activity entry phase).
To add one or more rooms to the list, click on the green plus button at the right toolbar. You will see two options. The first one ("Room") adds a single room to the list and the second one ("Rooms (5)") adds 5 rooms to the list. A room has the following properties.
- Name – A textual name or number of this room.
Abbreviated – The short version of the name or number, if applicable.
- Color – The color assigned to this room. This is an optional field. If used, cells in which the room is scheduled may be painted with a background color matching this color.
- Sub Room of – If this location is located inside a larger "parent" location, you can specify the parent location in this field. It is even possible to specify multiple "parents".
- Max. Students – The maximal number of students which can fit in this room. For an unlimited value, type "0". If you do, the value will turn into the infinity symbol ∞.
- Max. Teachers – The maximal number of teachers which can fit in this room. For an unlimited value, type "0".
- Max. Groups – The maximal number of groups which can be scheduled in this room without causing a conflict. For an unlimited value, type "0". The default value is "1" (meaning that trying to schedule more than one group in this room is considered as a conflict).
- Max. Activities – The maximal number of activities which can share this room without causing a conflict. For an unlimited value, type "0". The default value is "1" (meaning that trying to schedule more than one activity in this room is considered as a conflict).
- Equipment – This field allows you to specify which equipment resides in this room.
- Distances – This is where distances from other rooms are specified. The way to do this is by opening the popup list in this property and typing next to another room the distance (in minutes) from this room. Note that it is actually enough to specify distances between the parent locations (e.g. buildings) without having to specify distances between each and every pair or sub-locations (e.g. room) within them.
You can rearrange rooms using the black up and down arrows at the right toolbar. You can also sort the list by clicking on a column title. To delete a room, select the appropriate row and click on the red minus button. You can select multiple items in the list by holding down the Ctrl key while clicking on an item.
Equipment is pretty much any kind of movable physical object which may be required by an activity. An equipment resource is unique in the way that it is the only resource which has a quantity property. This property depicts the number of items of that resource available in stock. It is assumed that these items are all equivalent to each other. The program would allow scheduling multiple simultaneous activities which use that equipment only up to the specified number of items. Otherwise a conflict is reported by the program saying that there are not enough items to accommodate all the overlapping activities which require that type of equipment.
The equipment page contains a regular one level list with all the types of equipment. To add a new type of equipment, click on the green plus button at the right toolbar. You will see a popup menu with two options. The first option ("Equipment Item") adds a single equipment item and the second option ("Equipment (5)") adds 5 items. An equipment item has the following properties.
- Name – The full name of the type of equipment.
- Abbreviated – The short version of the name, if applicable.
- Color – A color associated with this resource.
- Quantity – The number of items of this particular type of equipment available in stock. It is assumed that these items are equivalent to each other and interchangeable with one another. If not, you should add a new equipment item for each unique type of resource.
The list of equipment can be sorted by clicking on a column title in the list. You can also rearrange it manually using the black up and down arrows at the right toolbar. Select an item in the list and then use these buttons to move it up or down.
Bulk Color Assignment
Instead of manually assigning a color to each resource, the program has an option to assign colors to all the resources at once. This is done by clicking on the paintbrush button at the right toolbar. A popup menu will open up with two options. The first option "Assign random colors" will simply assign colors randomly. If you don't like the result, you can repeat the random color assignment or you can amend some colors manually. The second option in the popup menu, "Assign shades of the same color", will first let you select some base color and then assign shades of that base color. It will start from a dark shade of that color and move on to assigning lighter and lighter colors.
If there is a single selected resource in the list or no selection at all, the colors will be assigned to all the resources in the list. However, if there are multiple resources selected, the assignment of colors will be applied only to those selected resources. You can exploit this behavior, for example, by selecting several resources which have something in common and applying shades of the same color to them. This may distinguish them from other resources while maintaining a similarity pattern.
In order to speed up the process of data entry, the program provides a possibility to edit the resources' properties inside the list itself (like in spreadsheet applications), without having to go through the Properties pane. This editing mode is turned on by clicking on the pencil button at the top of the right toolbar.
In the editing mode, clicking on any resource in the list lets you immediately edit the value that you clicked on. You can continue the entire editing process using only the keyboard: move between values of the same resource using the Tab key on the keyboard, and move between resources using the up and down keys.
Naturally, the editing mode allows you to edit only the properties visible in the list. The properties which do not have a dedicated column in the list and are visible only in the Properties pane can only be edited there. However, remember that in the Institution pane you can select which properties are displayed in the list (and set their column width and position). So you can always go there, define a column width for the required property (even if only for the sake of bulk editing) and then be able to edit that property in the editing mode. Once you are finished editing, you can go back and hide that property's column by setting a column width of zero.
There are 3 ways to select multiple items in a list. The first way is to hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard pressed and then click on the items you wish to select. Holding down the Ctrl key informs the program that you would like the clicked-upon item to be added to the existing selection. The second way is applicable in case there is a range of subsequent items that you would like to select: you select the first item simply by clicking on it, then scroll down to the last item, hold down the Shift key on the keyboard and then click on the last item. This selects all the items in between as well. The third way is by using the mouse. You can click on an item and without releasing the mouse button move the mouse down to the next item. It will be selected as well. Continue moving the mouse until you reach last item and then release the left mouse button.
One last note, the above described steps for selecting multiple items are irrelevant if the editing mode is turned on because in the editing mode clicking on an item initiates its editing and not its selection. In such case, to enable multiple selections, first turn off the editing mode by clicking on the pencil button.
Bulk Property Editing
Suppose you need to set the same property value to many resources, e.g. select the same parent group for 20 groups, you do not have to do it one by one 20 times. What you can do is first select the 20 resources and only then edit the property in the Properties pane. You see, the Properties pane will apply the newly edited value to all the currently selected resources as a single operation.