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TimeFinder v4: Automatic Educational Scheduling

11.24.2009
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Today the TimeFinder Team (its me ;-)) announces the availability of TimeFinder v4!

TimeFinder allows universities and schools to reduce and even avoid conflicts in the timetable! TimeFinder will improve the work of the human timetabler at the institute. A lot of work which would be done by hand to create the educational schedule could be done with TimeFinder.

TimeFinder is completely free and independent of the operating system (via Java 6). The power of TimeFinder is its algorithm. It eliminates the hard-conflicts of nearly all datasets of the International Timetabling Competition 08 in under 20 seconds on a normal laptop. And it can be applied on real data like the one from University of Bayreuth.

Pictures tells a lot more than 1000 words, so here are some screenshots and here is a video as introduction.

The first screenshot is how editing of events works

  1. create a new event
  2. then set the name
  3. and specify the start and duration
  4. after this you can add some visitors under Event Table->Persons

edit-events

And here you see how TimeFinder optimized an instance of the International Timetabling Competition 08:

after-optimization

See some more screenshots and look again here for the video documentation.

Start TimeFinder right now via WebStart! Or download the jar which is faster!

New Features

The TimeFinder Team worked hard to add the following features in this version for you:

  1. Events with any duration are now possible - without performance losings! (before only duration=1 was possible)
  2. A more robust and lightweight Swing component the TimeFinderPlanner to display the schedule/timetable of all locations and persons was implemented and replaces the JavaFX component hassle. This component is small (<30KB) and but has some dependencies (1MB). It has the same purpose as MigCalendar, but is of course not as powerful as this.
  3. Import of text files (tab separated, comma separated data). XML was already supported in previous versions
  4. Auto-import for the last imported file
  5. Cloning entities is now possible
  6. Anonymize data, so that institutes could give away there data for performance-tests and other research projects.
  7. Import of the data for University of Bayreuth (Germany) and the possibility to optimize this data set with >1500 events; >100 locations; >600 resources (persons/course of studies) is now possible and shows how other institutes could use its existing data with TimeFinder.
  8. Removed a lot of deprecated classes and removed unused dependencies (now ~11MB)
  9. Now the English TimeFinder is fully translated into German too. Translation is now simplified with a small tool.
  10. A new maven module called algo was created, to reduce coupling of the algorithm to the GUI. Now it is theoretically possible to deploy the algorithm without the spring dependency e.g. to an optimization server.

Support

No software is complete or bug-free, and so is TimeFinder which is beta software at the moment. You are free to support TimeFinder with your constructive critique, blog posts or even money if you like to make it better. Feel free to contact me or raise an issue if you find a bug.

Check the documentation or watch an introductive video to get an overview. Keep in mind that updating documentation is still work in progress.

You can win

If you know some Java and like coding GUIs, databases or algorithms you can contact me and win experiences via joining the project!

Especially the calendar component TimeFinderPlanner could be alluring for people with Java2d experiences or interests in this area.

Thanks!

This application wouldn't be the same without the following nice open source projects:

... and last but not least thanks to NetBeans - the only IDE you need
and Yourkit profiler, which offers open source projects a free license!

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Published at DZone with permission of its author, Peter Karussell.

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