Tag Archives: SWS

SWS v5.4.1 Released 01/25/2017

Hello SWS Users,
The SWS team has completed a number of new features that have now been deployed to production.

  • Name Search and Display
    The SWS team recently integrated the UW Preferred name into all resources within the SWS. Real world usage has enumerated the need for additional capabilities to be integrated to allow more directed usage of Preferred or Registered name based on use cases of downstream business systems.
  • Search
    For those systems who utilize SWS for student searching, both the Legal and Preferred name will now be targeted for search by default.  Use of the named_search_source query parameter may be added to target specific name types for searching. Using the values of ‘registered’ or ‘preferred’ will target specific name types. The default being to search both simultaneously.
  • Display
    For those systems who utilize SWS to display name values. By default the value that is displayed is a roll-up of Preferred or Registered name.  Use of the name name_display_source query parameter may be added to the SWS Person search to allow a downstream system to selectively use one name value or another. By default the ‘Display’ source is used. However the ability to use ‘display‘ or ‘registered‘ can be used discretely to change the default behavior to use registered over display.  It is the policy to use Preferred/Display in all cases unless needed for legal or conflicting policy requirements.
  • Online Learning Type
    A new field ‘OnlineLearningType’ has been added to the Section resource. This field will be used by the underlying SDB system to indicate the type of online learning offered. The field is currently being populated and will not be indicated for all sections.
  • Section Search by Building and Room
    A new search capability has been added to the Section Search resource. The ability to search by Building and Room have been added. Systems can request access to the Space Web Service for additional information about a specific location.
  • Section Search by SLN
    A late breaking addition to the 5.4.1 release. A new search capability has been added to the Section Search resource. Search by SLN within a given Year and Quarter is now available.

 

An initial Academic Calendar web service now available via MyUW

An academic calendar web service has been long requested by campus developers who needed ways to populate departmental web pages and incorporate important dates into web apps. With the availability of academic calendar data on MyUW’s calendaring tool, developers now have a method to access the information they need without resorting to screen-scraping or other jury-rigged techniques.

MyUW’s calendaring tool provides multiple export options for creating data feeds. Supported formats are iCal, webcal, RSS, Atom, XML, and nicely-formatted plain text; each is available for a given date range. In this way, developers can obtain all the academic calendar dates previously only available on a static, table-laden HTML page maintained by the Registrar’s office. (A few academic calendar dates were available through the Student Web Service (SWS) term resource because they existed in the SDB; a quarter’s first- and census days are prime examples.) This in itself is a huge step forward for developers who can easily get at the data, and for students who can now subscribe to the calendar on their iPhones, Google Calendar, or whatever calendaring device/service they prefer.

A few examples of how campus developers might use this web service:

  • Integrate campus-wide registration periods and deadlines with important dates specific to their department;
  • Display an alert on a web page when an important academic calendar date is nearing;
  • Trigger an e-mail, text message, blog entry, etc. based on the UW’s academic calendar; and
  • Populate “what’s happening” calendars with religious holidays, which are now part of the Academic Calendar.

But this approach has drawbacks when compared to a full web service such as the SWS resources UWIT developed. So why didn’t UWIT develop a resource for this information? In a word, bandwidth; or rather, a lack thereof. Reduced budgets and higher-priority projects precluded the option of building a dedicated SWS resource. Leveraging the existing MyUW tool was the only viable way to open up the data in the short term.

Some issues with this approach include:

  • No date ranges – MyUW’s calendaring tool does not support date ranges, so ranges like “Registration Period II” must be entered as two discrete entries: a beginning date and an end date.
  • Start and end times – What’s more, these dates are themselves represented as start and end times. Entries that do not include time information (which describes all academic calendar entries) default to an end time of midnight, which pushes the entry’s end date to the following day. It’s an easily-avoided problem: just use the start date for each entry. But it’s something that must be looked out for when using the data in an application.
  • No non-date information – Questions like “What quarter is it now?” or “What general catalog was in use Spring quarter 2009?” cannot be answered directly via this tool because it only contains discrete dates. (It is possible to use the SWS’s Term resource and some logic to answer these questions, however.) Developers are limited to retrieving a list of significant events (grades are due, late registration starts, etc.) and their dates; or, querying a specific date to see what events take place on that date.
  • XML issues – An early tester of the services noted an issue with how the XML parser deals with certain accented characters, and that the VCALENDAR-based XML format does not lend itself to parsing.

Definitely not an ideal solution, but certainly one that represents a significant step forward. So retire your screen-scraping tools and instead dive directly into that feed to start playing with the data. UWIT and the Registrar’s office would love to hear how you’ll use the academic calendar in your apps, and we’ll gladly listen to ideas on ways to improve this MyUW-based academic calendar web service.