IRC log of #schooltool for Thursday, 2004-07-15

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th1aHi all. I made a list of the calendaring issues I want to quiz Kellan about at
*mgedmin is lurking here18:50
SteveAth1a: I can't attend this meeting, sorry.  But, if you can mail a transcript to the list, I'll read it later and comment on it.18:53
th1aNo problem.18:53
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kellani'm tom's friend, he asked me to drop by this morning19:01
philipp_sgreetings from switzerland :-)19:02
th1aHi Kellan.19:02
*kellan notes he also seems to be pretty seriously lagged to this server.19:02
th1aI guess we should get down to it. Thanks for coming, Kellan.19:04
th1aThe first thing I'm wondering about standards.19:04
philipp_sBTW i'm interested in the schooltool project, haven't contributed so far, just observing...19:04
th1ais standards.19:04
th1aIt seems like the calendaring standards world is even more of a mess than the syndication standards world.19:04
th1aWe're supporting ICal, and it doesn't seem like anything else is established enough to even bother with in the short term.19:05
kellantrue.  their has only recently been a push to adopt ical (rfc 2445) in the last couple of years, and there really aren't any worth bothering with19:05
th1aThe CalDAV proposal didn't seem to gain any traction.19:06
kellanunfortunately the calsch wg has pretty much killed the space by a serious of poor tech choices (bng syntax, beep vs http)19:06
mgedminI've heard that there was an XML version of iCal19:06
kellanno it hasn't.  it might get recycled through.  but the working group doesn't drive the standards.19:06
mgedminhow is that one faring?19:06
kellanmgedmin: its lapsed.19:07
kellanas has the only parser for it.19:07
kellanwhich was sad.  actually tbl did the intial translation19:07
kellanthe one standard which is emerging is the RDFiCal19:07
kellanthe eventsherpa kids have actually implemented a parser (in C#) for it, and are using it in their product19:08
kellanhowever no one else has, and it isn't stable yet.19:08
kellanwhat are you looking for a standard to provide you?19:08
th1aI'll keep an eye on that for the future.19:08
th1aI'm mostly just want to know that we're supporting standards when it is appropriate.19:09
th1aSo we don't really need to linger on the topic.19:09
kellaniCal over WebDAV is the only thing we19:09
kellan've got close to a standard (bless Apple)19:10
kellanthough implementation has some serious limitations as they're trying to drive you to iSync.  MozCal is the gold standard in my book.19:10
th1aI think we'll end up recommending Mozilla as a client.19:11
th1aWe aren't very Mac-oriented anyhow.19:11
mgedminI have a question about one corer case we've stumbled upon in schooltool so far19:11 is a lot more stable for now.  probably want to recommend  iCal, MozCal and eventSherpa (for Win)19:11
mgedminiCal requires a calendar to have at least one component19:11
kellanmgedmin: yes19:11
mgedminso what's supposed to happen when you delete all events from a calendar?19:11
mgedminwhen I tried it, mozcal just uploaded an empty file via HTTP PUT19:12
mgedminbut it refused to accept the same empty file back19:12
kellanmgedmin: its undefined, what we did (Palm/ is we added a placeholder event without a starttime19:12
kellanthat seems to work19:12
mgedminthat's exactly what we did too19:13
mgedmin"without a starttime" sounds interesting -- does it prevent clients from displaying that event?19:13
kellanit did in my tests19:13
kellani tried to get a comment from the wg on it, but didn't get anywhere.19:14
th1aAre there any guidelines for doing RSS feeds of events?19:14
th1aFor example, are they sorted by date added or date of the event?19:15
kellanthere is mod_event which is pretty simple,  adds start and end times, plus a location field.19:15
kellanoh, those sort of guidelines.  no. not really.  because there aren't any guidelines about how an rss parser/aggregator returns the records19:15
th1aSo we should just wing that.19:16
th1aIf we decide to do RSS feeds.19:16
kellanat we sort by date of the event because we assume that most people using the feed are trying to display their own calendar.  if most people were wanting to monitor the feed to check for "whats new" then you would want to sort by creation.19:17
kellanjust depends on what your target consumer is.19:17
kellanyou should definitely do an RSS feed, its the new glue.19:17
th1aThat makes sense.19:17
mgedminRSS 0.9/1.0/2.0?19:17
mgedminwhat about Atom?19:17
kellanmgedmin: i always say RSS 1.0, Atom is excellent for various micro-publishing uses, but it isn't a good general purpose XML data stream19:18
kellanand the Atom kids know this19:18
th1aI'd say definitely not 0.9, and also not 2.0.19:18
kellanjust an fyi, mod_event is supported by mark's feedparser.py19:19
th1aThat's good.19:19
kellanas i know you're a python shop19:19
th1aHm. Yeah, I hadn't even thought about the server consuming feeds. That's a good point.19:20
kellani'm kind of curious what kind of calendar you're building, there are a number of different activities that people use calendars for19:20
kellanth1a: i tend to use a lot of RSS internally just to tlak to myself, but i'm weird i'm like that19:20
th1aWell, on one level it just tracks a student's repeating schedule.19:21
th1aOr a teacher's or a resource's, like a room or a projector.19:21
*mgedmin googles for mod_event and learns that it is a RDF module, and not an Apache module19:21
th1aSo there's one ICal file for each thing that is their repeating schedule.19:22
kellanmgedmin: sorry.  i tend to apporach apache'ish.19:22
kellanth1a: makes sense19:22
th1aAnd then there is another URL where each thing can post or get their ICal calendar.19:23
kellankellan: for MozCal you'll just need one URL, for apple you can either post, or subscribe, but not both.19:24
kellanso have you done any thinking about public event calendars (which leads quickly to eventreg) or on the other end of the spectrum, personal scheduling?19:24
kellan(which is kind of what you're already doing, except just for their repeating institutional events)19:24
th1aI mean, there is another URL where you can post or add a separate calendar from your repeating calendar.19:25
th1aA personal calendar, that is.19:25
th1aOne personal, one autogenerated schedule.19:25
th1aBut we haven't gone into any detail about handling public/private things.19:26
th1aWhat is eventreg?19:26
kellanth1a: sorry.  Event Registration.  RSVP handling, limited seats, online sign up, potentially taking payments.19:27
th1aHmm... I haven't seen those things as important use cases.19:27
kellanonce you give someone a public event caledanr, they ask for it.19:27
kellandoesn't mean you have to give it to them :)19:27
th1aSo that might be something that is more important for institutions other than schools.19:28
th1aWe are planning a non-school distribution.19:28
kellanadmittedly my experience is in more public events, and scheduling, but i've found school are actually a huge source of events.  19:29
kellanthere were about 50 schools (k-12) using the metaevent's calendar19:29
kellanbesides the university who used it19:29
kellannot saying that is what you should do.19:29
th1aHm... Yeah, I guess RSVP-ing and such are important for meetings.19:29
th1aI'm used to thinking of a small school.19:30
th1aWhere sign-up and RSVP-ing is easily done face to face.19:30
kellanquick side note about RSVP, don't get sucked into Outlook's claim that it supports iCal, or get attached to those cool like scheduling button it can produce.  it only really works outlook->outlook19:30
*kellan notes he can't type at this time of the morning19:31
philipp_sRSVP=? (thanks)19:31
th1aI guess right now we don't even have the concept of an event, when you get right down do it, do we?19:31
th1aRSVP is French actually...19:32
mgedminRevolutionary Surrealist Vandal Party19:32
mgedminjust kidding19:32
kellanphilipp_s: RSVP means replying and saying whether you're planning to attend an event or not.19:32
kellanlike if you've used evite.com19:32
th1aRespondez S'il vous plait19:32
th1amgedmin: we don't really have event objects, do we?19:33
kellanohh, i would definitely model this at both the event and calendar level19:33
mgedminwe do have VEvent objects that are used to represent parsed iCalendars19:33
mgedminwe do not use them for anything else at the moment19:33
kellanpeople are going to want to attach comments, and .doc files and what not to events.19:34
kellanplus you need a way to cancel a single instances of a recurring event19:34
th1aOK, this is starting to make sense.19:34
mgedminwe also have calendar events (ICalendarEvent in schooltool.interfaces)19:34
th1aThis might be helpful:
kellaninteresting.  never really encountered the timetable concept before.  but it makes sense.19:37
th1aOK, so here's a use case, an administrator is setting up a professional development session, with 15 available slots.19:39
th1aHe enters the event into the system, reserving a room (resource) in the process, and specifies the number of people who can join, and that they have to be part of the group teachers.19:40
th1aTeachers are notified of the opportunity via RSS and other means.19:40
th1aThey go on the web and add themselves to the list.19:41
th1aSo the event object has to build a list of people attending, and when it is full, notify the administrator and stop taking submissions.19:42
kellanbasically.  in practice you often hold a few back.19:42
th1aSo we'll have to build a lot more logic around the ICalendarEvents.19:43
th1aThis is at least starting to make a lot more sense to me...19:44
th1aDo most orgs consider it a must to allow one person to edit another's schedule, like allowing someone's secretary to edit their boss's schedule?19:45
kellanth1a: in larger orgs it is neccessary.  in a smaller org they might tell you its neccessary but in practice anyone who is editting your schedule probably can figure out your password.19:46
kellanalso having one or two admin users is more then sufficient19:46
kellanwe just went through this conversation for our new project at Groundspring, and decided to go with a very flat permissions structure19:47
th1aWhat do you mean by very flat?19:47
kellannot a lot of levels of hierarchy, a few simple roles, skip any sort of delegation, don't track ownership of objects19:48
kellanthey all seemed to cause lock out issues, and IT headaches19:48
th1aYeah, we need to keep this simple.19:49
kellanthe once place where it can get to be an issue is when the principal is trying to schedule an event, and the room thinks it is already booked.  19:49
th1aAh. Overriding things.19:50
kellanthat said, i wouldn't try to capture how to resolve that as every org does it differently19:50
kellanjust allow an admin to override and cancel19:50
kellanthere might have to an email fired off, or a phone call, but allowing for out of band communication (which happens anyway) really simplifies the spec19:51
th1aI have been thinking that managing a personal private and personal public schedule will be more than most teachers would want to deal with.19:51
kellana teacher would probably want to add any public events to their schools public event calendar19:52
th1aI was thinking that a teacher's schedule would just return available/not-available info to other users.19:52
th1aIs that a reasonable way to handle it?19:52
kellanhard to know, i haven't worked in schools, i would tend to say that the institutional events (the recurring classes and such) are public or at least common knowledge19:53
kellanif you're logged in, why not show the actual events19:53
th1aBut a teacher's individual meeting.19:53
kellanfor everything else, blacking it out makes sense, yeah.19:53
kellanthat acutally sounds to like an argument for allowing events to be flagged private/public, and having intelligent defaults19:54
th1aWell, that pretty much gets me through my list of issues.19:54
philipp_sth1a: regarding the topic list you posted for this irc session, is there room for more topics at the end? i would like to discuss the *timetabling* vs *calendaring* issues a bit more... will it fit into the schedule of this irc session? :-)19:54
th1aIf Kellan can stay.19:54
philipp_sjust to get a rough understanding of the differences involved...19:55
kellani'd through out that people are going to want email integration (reminders, newsletters, and scheduling in that order), probalby is a bit more work to do in private/public conversation, and the most annoying feature request i got over and over was to support gantt charts19:55
th1aIf not we can certainly still talk among ourselves.19:55
kellani should probably head into work19:55
kellanbut i'm happy to chat with folks if questions come up.19:55
th1aThis has been really helpful, Kellan.19:56
mgedminkellan: thanks for your insights19:56
th1aphillipp_s: let's keep talking about calendaring vs timetabling19:56
kellanit was fun.  look forward to seeing what you come up with, the current state of open source calendaring (or calendaring in general) is pretty dismal19:56
th1aYeah. People who are discouraged by the state of syndication should look at calendaring to feel better.19:57
philipp_si haven't looked in depth, but it does look dismal19:57
kellanalright, talk to you folks soon.19:59
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philipp_smaybe i can just fire off what i understand are the rough issues about timetabling vs calendaring...19:59
th1aFire away.19:59
philipp_stimetabling in my school is coordinated by one single person20:00
th1aYou mean, that person creates the student schedules?20:00
philipp_s... who does the basic timetable for each semester20:00
philipp_sit's basically quite tricky juggling of resources20:01
th1aAssigns students to classes?20:01
th1aAnd classes to rooms?20:01
philipp_sat my school that comes later20:01
philipp_smy school first tries to assign teachers and rooms to the overall schedule20:02
philipp_sthere are a lot of constraints that need to go into the equation20:02
philipp_sbecause it is a school specialised into part-time education20:02
philipp_steachers teach part-time and students attend part-time20:03
philipp_sso you first need to get an overall schedule worked out for the teachers and rooms20:04
th1aRight. So you're thinking about applications to generate that timetable automatically.20:04
th1aOr mostly automatically...20:04
philipp_sthey currently do it with excel20:04
philipp_sbut it is a headache20:04
philipp_sthere are commercial solutions that offer some form of automation20:05
th1aThat functionality is definitely going to be a part of SchoolTool.20:05
philipp_si don't really know how good that works, but my school thinks they would want it...20:06
th1aWe've kicked around some proposals, but we haven't come to any resolution, mostly because we haven't clearly defined how to extend SchoolTool.20:06
philipp_swhat do you mean by "extend"?20:06
th1aWell, that's not entirely clear either, actually.20:07
th1aHave you used Zope?20:07
philipp_syes, we are running the school's website with zope... I will introduce myself properly by email shortly! :-)20:08
philipp_sbut if you don't mind, i am really keen on talking about the general timetabling/calendaring issues, to get a rough idea about the scope of it all...20:09
philipp_swhat do you think?20:10
philipp_smaybe i first do the introduction, and then we can talk more on irc another time... :-)20:11
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tom_hoffmanwow, my Mac just totally kernel paniced.20:12
tom_hoffmanI hadn't saved a log of the chat, so if someone can send a copy to the list, I'd appreciate it.20:13
tom_hoffmanUnless there's some way for me to get it that I don't know about.20:13
tom_hoffmanI'm still a bit of an IRC newbie.20:13
tom_hoffmanAnyhow, SchoolTool is going to need to support something like Zope products.20:13
tom_hoffmanAnd I think the timetabling functinality should probably be at least partly like a Product.20:14
philipp_si see20:14
tom_hoffmanSo that different algorithms can be switched in and out easily.20:14
tom_hoffmanBecause it seems like that are lots of different C implementation that could be wrapped up without much trouble.20:15
tom_hoffmanAnd we'll probably end up wrapping someones GPL'ed C implementation.20:15
tom_hoffmanIt isn't the kind of thing one would do in pure Python, I don't think.20:16
philipp_syet i think that the tracking of time/events is kind of a core requirement for school administration...20:16
philipp_sso i wonder how the schooltool core/add-ons will pan out...20:16
tom_hoffmanI agree--I think it will ship as a standard part of the distribution,20:16
thisfredjust out of interest, why not pure python for this? Speed issues?20:17
tom_hoffmanbut I don't think it should be hard-wired into the core.20:17
tom_hoffmanI'm guessing.20:17
tom_hoffmanBut yeah, speed.20:17
philipp_swhois thisfred20:17
philipp_soops 20:17
philipp_sirc newbie ;-)20:17
thisfredsry for just butting in. I'm on the list, I'm eric casteleijn, and work at infrae20:17
tom_hoffmanPlus I think we can reuse existing code in this case.20:18
*mgedmin just mailed the chat log to the mailing list20:18
philipp_shi eric i am philipp from zurich we met at europython20:18
thisfredreuse & speed are good args20:19
tom_hoffmanBut none of this is firmly set in stone.20:19
thisfredbut python code may be more flexible20:19
tom_hoffmanAnother reason to keep it pluggable is that some implementations actually use20:20
tom_hoffmanclustering, which seems like a good idea,20:20
tom_hoffmanbut not something you'd want to require everyone to deal with.20:20
philipp_sas far as i understand, schooltool server currently uses xlink to track timetables, no? 20:20
tom_hoffmanI'm not sure what you mean by track timetables.20:21
philipp_shmm the problem might be that i am not a coder... it stores timetable information in the ical format or not?20:22
mgedminnot internally20:22
mgedminbut you can generate a calendar from a timetable and present it as ical20:22
philipp_sso where does this happen?20:23
mgedmindo you want to know the place in the source code?20:23
mgedminI'm not sure I understand your question20:23
philipp_soh dear.. i guess i don't understand the "technicalities" enough20:24
tom_hoffmanSchoolTool keeps track of the timetable in its database, if you ask for the data in ICal format, it can print in that way.20:25
philipp_smgedmin: if i create a timetable with the current schooltool fat client...20:25
philipp_sso what is the format the timetable is stored in the zodb?20:26
tom_hoffmanThe xlink format is just another way of presenting the same data.20:26
tom_hoffmanThe database doesn't use a format as such.20:26
tom_hoffmanThey're objects.20:27
tom_hoffmanThey can be represented with whatever format you specify.20:27
philipp_spython objects accessible by paths, right?20:27
mgedminin a way20:27
mgedminsome of python objects are accessible via URIs20:28
philipp_sok i think i understand better now20:28
mgedminsome aren't20:28
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philipp_sok thanks guys20:28
tom_hoffmanphilipp_s:  here's the sequence of events which will lead to timetabling in SchoolTool...20:29
tom_hoffman1) getting the specs for the calendaring release done and setting POV on them.20:30
tom_hoffman2) clearly documenting and specifying how an application like timetabling should interact with the existing code20:30
tom_hoffman3) getting a final round of proposals to write the timetabling code20:31
tom_hoffman4) giving someone money to write it.20:31
tom_hoffmanWe should be able to have that done this year.20:32
philipp_sah no i get it : calendaring is the broad term, timetabling is an app... to me it was the other way around ;-)20:32
tom_hoffmanYeah, that's also the kind of thing I need to clarify on the website.20:32
mgedminwell, we have both calendars and timetables in schooltool20:32
mgedminwe can use timetables to generate calendar events20:33
tom_hoffmanYeah, we use timetabling to refer to auto-generating timetables.20:33
tom_hoffmanI need to make a glossary.20:33
philipp_si thought calendars is just the presentation of event data... but of course you can also add new event data...20:33
philipp_swith a calendar client20:34
mgedminyou can have calendar events that are independant from any timetable20:34
philipp_sok i think i got a better picture in my head now ;-)20:35
tom_hoffmanphilipp_s: do you know any good Python developers in your area?20:36
philipp_syeah we will need to get them onto schooltool ;-) let's hope they don't all get sucked into working for the new google lab in zurich! 20:38
philipp_stom_hoffman: where are you located then?20:39
tom_hoffmanI'm in Providence, RI.  I'm the outlier.20:39
tom_hoffmanUSA, that is.20:39
philipp_show does your local python community shape up?20:40
tom_hoffmanIdeally, I want to see joint proposals from developers working directly with a school.20:40
philipp_syep that would be ideal, i agree20:40
tom_hoffmanWell, there is more of a Python community in Boston, which is about an hour up the road.20:41
tom_hoffmanSo you can think about that.  Since you seem to have an especially complex timetabling case.20:41
tom_hoffmanIt might be ideal for the timetabling development.20:42
philipp_slet's see what i can come up with! :-)20:43
mgedminIt would be very useful to have a description of the process that is currently used to create timetables manually20:43
tom_hoffmanOf philipp_s school's process.20:43
philipp_sthe problem is that the person who does it is high up in management and pressed for spare time...20:44
tom_hoffmanI don't think their process is a big concern, just their end requirements.20:45
mgedminI think I'm more interested in the representation of the end result20:46
mgedminrather than the exact metod used to get it20:46
thisfredphilipp_s: I know that some other people in Zurich are very much interested in timetabling/calendaring ;)20:47
philipp_smgedmin: what do you mean exactly be end result?20:48
philipp_sthisfred: tell me more!20:48
mgedminthe timetable20:48
mgedminthe data structure20:48
philipp_smgedmin: i think its in an excel spreadsheet20:48
mgedminis it a single table?20:49
mgedminwhat do the rows and columns represent?20:49
mgedminwhat is stored in the cells20:49
mgedminthings like that20:49
thisfredwell, I think Wolfgang wants to look into it, he was very interested in schooltool for that reason20:49
mgedminwe invented one representation as the "school timetable" window in the fat client20:49
mgedminbut I'd like to see more real examples from real schools20:49
philipp_s... for the first official version... i think they keep track of changes on paper afterwards! but i am not 100 percent sure20:49
philipp_sthisfred: ah Wolfgang, that sneeky bugger! ;-)20:50
philipp_smgedmin: sure20:51
thisfredit's all very up in the air still, but I'm hoping somehow infrae will let me do something with schooltool20:52
tom_hoffmanAnother reason that the timetable generation doesn't need to be built into the core is that it is mostly a batch job.20:52
tom_hoffmanSend out the requirements and an hour or day later get back the results in another big heap.20:53
philipp_stom_hoffman: yeah i understand now, i had been mixed up about the terms calendaring vs timetabling20:53
tom_hoffmanWe need to rearrange our terminology to make it more clear.20:53
mgedminto me "timetabling" means dealing with timetables20:53
mgedminnot just generating them, but also viewing or changing them manually20:54
philipp_syes i think there is definitely an overlap in functionality between calendarding and timetabling20:54
mgedminto me timetables are "templates" that can be used to stamp calendars20:55
mgedmincalendar is what you get when you "apply" a timetable to a specific time period (e.g. a semester)20:55
philipp_sif i might suggest so, the auto-generation of timetables should have a more specific term, rather than just "timetabling"20:55
mgedminfor example, a timetable says what happens on mondays, while a calendary says what happens on september 17th20:56
philipp_smgedmin: yes, that's what i figured too, but there is more too it, more confusion about the functionality overlap20:57
thisfredin dutch a term like 'rostering' is used for making the timetables20:57
philipp_sbecause to make a timetable (with the help of an algorithm or manually) you need to be able to assign or at least alter individual events on specific dates...20:58
mgedminthat's why calendaring and timetabling are separate ;)20:59
tom_hoffmanI think appending "auto-" to whatever might help, too.20:59
mgedminin schooltool every person, group and resource has a private calendar in addition to timetables20:59
mgedminand a second, read-only calendar is functionally derived from the timetable of that person/group/resource21:00
tom_hoffmanI've got to run.  This has been a very productive chat.21:02
philipp_si think with an auto-timetabling app you can get a "starting point" for your timetable at best, but then you will need to tweak it manually and later changes will occur and there we have the question of permissions and conflict resolutions, etc.21:02
philipp_stom_hoffman: i will be in thouch shortly (by email) 21:03
philipp_sin touch21:03
philipp_sach my spelling !21:04
mgedminthanks for organising this, tom!21:04
philipp_syes, thanks21:05
tom_hoffmanSure.  Thanks to you!21:05
---tom_hoffman is now known as th1a|way21:05
philipp_smgedmin: i think i don't quite understand how schooltool's timetables/calendars work right now...21:06
philipp_s... it might have to do with the fact that you are still working on it and documentation is a bit behind...21:07
philipp_si was ok for the schooltool release 421:08
mgedminah, have you seen the user's guide which is hidden at
mgedminoh, you have21:08
mgedminwe forgot to add a link to it from the milestone 5 page21:08
philipp_sbut now i don't know where you moved the timetables in the tree...21:09
mgedminsince most of the work we did on milestone 5 were internal enhancements rather than new user-level features21:09
mgedminwhich tree are you talking about?21:09
mgedminthe source tree?21:09
philipp_sbut before I would find the ical timetables at localhost:myport/calendars/ if i remember correctly21:10
philipp_sno not the source tree21:10
philipp_si am talking about the xlink tree21:11
mgedminhttp://localhost:port/calendars.html contains a bunch of links to all the calendars21:11
philipp_sohh does it, still? then i did something wrong, i need to try again21:12
mgedminperhaps it was called 'calendars' without .html at the end in an earlier release, I do not really remember21:12
mgedminit seems that it wasn't, according to svn logs21:13
philipp_si currently don't have my laptop available to check (hardware fault, aaarg, it's at the repair shop), but i will get on to it soon21:14
mgedminyou can use http://demo.schooltool.org21:14
philipp_syes it always was calendars.html, my fault21:14
philipp_si don't want to keep wasting your time, sorry! but thanks for your help, i will need to get in touch again soon!21:16
mgedminno problem21:16
philipp_shave a good evening!21:17
thisfredyou too!21:17
mgedminthanks, you too!21:17
*thisfred waves21:17
*philipp_s grins21:18
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Davidsmewhat is this chat21:48
Davidsmedo you guys help with school subjects?21:48
Davidsmeguess not bye21:49
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*mgedmin blinks21:51
---mgedmin has changed the topic to: www.schooltool.org21:51
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-->You are now talking on #schooltool22:10
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mgedminI found this on google:
mgedminit looks interesting22:10
mgedmin( is Kellan's blog)22:11
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