RB: OneSchool, TimeChart, TimeTabler, FirstClass, Kamar and other time tabling applications

Jan 23, 2018

Time tabling applications are used within most schools to organise a schedule of classes, teachers and rooms.  There is an overlap between the time tabling application and our Room and Resource booking application, where some rooms may have scheduled classes and are therefore not available for general booking.  To support this we have developed a number of import options to support these applications.

TimeChart, TimeTabler, FirstClass and Kamar

We have developed specific import functions to cope with these applications.

  1. Click School Settings in the configuration menu
  2. Click on the ‘RB’ tab
  3. Click the ‘Edit’ button to update this information
  4. Select the product integration option you will be using
  5. Click the ‘Save’ button to store this information
    1. If using ‘Kamar’ you will now see some addition options to edit – click the ‘Edit’ link for these additional options
    2. Complete the information, URL, username and password as required to access your Kamar API
    3. Click the ‘Save’ button to store this information
  6. Now click the ‘Import/Export’ link in the configuration menu
  7. The timetabling application you selected should now appear under the list of import options – click the radio button next to the application name
  8. You should now see a list of instructions for generating the export file from your timetabling application along with various options for importing this data
  9. Select the necessary options, select the file and click the ‘Import’ button

The Import Process

The import process is in three stages:

Stage 1: The file is uploaded and a quick check is performed of the data to ensure it complies with the requirements

Kamar: With Kamar the data is extracted directly using the Kamar API.  Click the ‘Retrieve data from Kamar’ button to begin extracting the data.  Please be patient as this may take some time while we retrieve all of the timetable information necessary.

Stage 2: Within the import file there will be codes relating to staff members, codes relating to rooms, and numbers relating to periods within your calendar.  In this stage we check that each code has a uniquely matched element of data within Sobs – so that each staff member is identified, each room and each period.  If this is not the case then we list the codes that are not found.

You can choose to ‘ignore’ a code, in which case all of the details from the timetabling application that utilise this code will be ignored.  The ignored codes are remembered so when you come to import your timetable data for the next term or semester codes that were ignored last time will be automatically ignored this time (hopefully making the process faster).

You can choose to ‘fix’ a code.  In this case the system will list items from your Sobs system that do not have any specific code applied, and by choosing one of these items the code will be automatically saved to this item.  For example, is a staff members code was not matched to the current data, then that code is listed as not found.  Selecting ‘fix’ will prompt with a list of staff that do not have specific codes applied, selecting a staff member from this list will automatically apply the code to that staff member.

A fourth option exists that allows you to configure a regular-expression and select bookings by the booking description (eg the subject / class information) to be ignored during the import.  You can add and delete these as required.

Stage 3: Once all of the data is matched you have the option to continue, where upon the system will create the bookings using the supplied parameters.

Ignored Data

Once an imported code has been ignored it will continue to be ignored until you remove this code from the ‘Ignore list’.  You can manage this list by clicking ‘Import/Export’ in the configuration menu and then scrolling to the bottom of the resulting page.  If there are any ‘ignored’ codes you will see a ‘Manage’ link for these codes.  If nothing is displayed then there is no ‘Ignored’ data.

Matching a Staff Member

Timetabling products utilise a staff code to manage the staff members within their application.  The export files they produce give us only the basic information – the staff code.

It is therefore important for Sobs to understand which staff code applies to the staff member identified in Sobs.  We do this in one of two ways.

a) There is an ‘import code’ field attached to each staff member.  You can enter the staff code as it is exported by your time tabling application into this field and that will provide a direct match while processing the imported data.

b) Sobs also supports the use of a staff ‘shortcode’.  We have often found that schools use the staff ‘shortcode’ within their time tabling applications, and this is quite sensible.  If the staff ‘shortcode’ is that used in your time tabling application and also defined within the Sobs staff record, then you don’t have to do anything as we will look in the ‘shortcode’ field for the staff code.

When importing the time tabling data we will attempt to match each staff code with a staff record.  Firstly we look for the code in the ‘import code’ field – if we find a matching staff member then we apply that staff record to the booking (so it will appear on their ‘My bookings’ page).  If the ‘import code’ field does not match any staff member (or if it matches multiple staff members) we then attempt to match the staff code against the staff ‘shortcode’ stored in the Sobs staff record.  If this matches a unique staff member then we apply this staff member to the booking records.

Email notices when bookings overwritten

If during an import you select the option ‘Send a notification when a booking is overwritten’ then the application will send an email to each staff member where a booking is replaced.

Obviously this option is only valid if the ‘Overwrite existing bookings’ option is also selected.

Only one email will be sent to each staff member – the list of bookings overwritten included.  If no bookings meet the criteria then no email is sent.

Only bookings that were placed manually are reported in the email.  So if the import is replacing a previously imported booking the details will not be included in the email.

Import from other Time Tabling applications

If your time tabling application is not listed above we may still be able to help.  The only requirement we have is that you are able to supply us a sample of the exported data from your application.  Generally the export needs to contain five elements:

1: A day number (which timetable day, eg 1-10)

2: A period number

3. A staff member code

4. A room code

5. A class and optionally a subject

You can send us a sample of the data, instructions on how it was generated, the name and version of the time tabling application.

We can then implement a specific import option for your time tabling application.