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Automated school timetabling with Predecessor of Web. SAMS Timetabling Module - @PT Alvin C. Automated school timetabling with Predecessor of Web. SAMS Timetabling Module - @PT Alvin C. M. KWAN CITE, The University of Hong Kong & Ken C. K. Chung REAL Logic Technology

Agenda n n n Historical background Major differences between the decisionsupport timetabling module, TESS, Agenda n n n Historical background Major differences between the decisionsupport timetabling module, TESS, in SAMS and TT in Web. SAMS Timetabling functions that TT supports @PT Demonstration web-based TT vs. client-server based @PT

Historical background (1/3) n n In May/June 2001, the Education Department (ED), now Education Historical background (1/3) n n In May/June 2001, the Education Department (ED), now Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB), in Hong Kong awarded a tender to NCS (prime contractor) to build a web-based school administration and management system (Web. SAMS) for all government funded schools school timetabling (TT) is one of the Web. SAMS modules

Historical background (2/3) n n Prime contractor had contacted a number of companies and Historical background (2/3) n n Prime contractor had contacted a number of companies and arranged demonstrations to ED but ED were unhappy with those timetabling software packages We demonstrated a timetabling system that one of us had built to ED in August 2001 and ED was happy with its performance

Historical background(3/3) n n Prime contractor subcontracted the development of the timetabling engine (not Historical background(3/3) n n Prime contractor subcontracted the development of the timetabling engine (not GUI) to us in late August 2001 We further developed our own front-end and enhanced the scheduling engine to make @PT a standalone software package

Project status n n The timetabling engine of @PT has been integrated to other Project status n n The timetabling engine of @PT has been integrated to other Web. SAMS components and the whole project is undergoing the useracceptance test now Web. SAMS is expected to be delivered to more than 1, 000 schools by the end of 2004

TESS vs. Semi-automatic n Ask for user advice whenever a dead-end is hit n TESS vs. Semi-automatic n Ask for user advice whenever a dead-end is hit n Take many hours to finish scheduling Interactive tuning n Five timetables can be viewed at the same time n Three tuning operators Tedious data preparation n Need to re-enter data all over again when certain data are changed TT (& @PT) Fully automatic n Try to resolve dead-end by itself as much as possible n Take a few minutes to finish scheduling Interactive tuning n No limit on the no. of opened timetables n Six tuning operators Streamlined data preparation n Data re-entry is minimized n Batch selection to reduce editing effort

TESS vs. Do not support all typically school timetabling requirements n Limited support on TESS vs. Do not support all typically school timetabling requirements n Limited support on notion of class subject n Do not support non-successive day constraint Difficult to learn and to use Fox. Pro report No bilingual interface Limited solution process tracking support TT (& @PT) Support all typically school timetabling requirements n Full support on notion of class subject n Support non-successive day constraint Easy to learn and to use Crystal report (TT) / Excel (@PT) Bilingual support Sophisticated solution process tracking with user-friendly GUIs

Demo Time Demo Time

Edges of @PT over TT n Supports better reusability of data n n The Edges of @PT over TT n Supports better reusability of data n n The impact due to changes in data to any previously generated timetable is reduced Better GUI design to support faster timetabling planning Improved scheduling engine to further reduce the number of violated timetabling requirements Better interactive tuning support n Does not subject to restrictions that TT encounters in supporting complicated GUI in web environment

Final remarks n n TT is good but the web architecture that it conforms Final remarks n n TT is good but the web architecture that it conforms to imposes serious restriction to its interface design, which in turn affects the usability of the software Though TT is emerged from @PT, the new @PT release definitely outperforms TT in terms of usability and scheduling effectiveness