Thursday, February 12, 2009

Arlington Sprint Report

We held a three day SchoolTool sprint at the Arlington Career Center last weekend, Feb. 6-8. In attendance were Ignas Mikalaj┼źnas, Alan Elkner, Douglas Cerna, Filip Sufitchi, Chris Carey, Jason Straw, Matt Gallagher, Jeff Elkner and Tom Hoffman. These events are getting pretty routine (in a good way). Everyone knows the application and sprint processes very well, and we're able to get right down to work and keep rolling straight through the weekend. The only snafu was a rather comprehensive failure of the school district's network Saturday night. We ended up relocating to the Straw family dining room, and we all appreciate Jason and his family's hospitality and tolerance.

We hit our major development goals:

  • Flexible Demographics -- Ignas, Filip and Alan implemented a new demographics system that is customizable through the web by a site administrator. This is what everyone wanted all along, but I didn't want to promise it for 1.0. Turns out that if you're going to allow any customizability at all, it is just as easy to go all the way. The biggest headache is what to do when a user decides to edit an existing schema. Basically we're leveraging our spreadsheet import/export, so the workflow will be: export your existing data > change the demographic attributes in SchoolTool > rejigger the columns in your exported spreadsheet to match what's now in SchoolTool > reimport your rejiggered data.
  • Contacts -- Contact information (i.e., parent address, phone, etc) is now stored as separate objects from the student, so you can have multiple parents, etc. per student (Ignas).
  • External Activities -- Douglas finished his work for Jeff on connecting CanDo to the SchoolTool gradebook. You can now pull activity scores from CanDo into SchoolTool.
  • Gradebook Simplification -- We spent a while discussing the nonsensical math of grading systems. For example, if a student has three scores, an "A," a "87" and a "Pass," what's the average? We decided to limit the 1.0 version of the gradebook to numerical scores to keep it transparent and predictable for everyone. Alan implemented this change.
  • UI -- Chris Carey made SchoolTool gradebook use consistent colors via CSS when they do score validity checking. He also added the timetable ID to the timetable view (needed for section imports).
  • Section Resource Booking -- Chris added basic support for reserving a resource to every meeting of a section.
  • Documentation -- Tom and Jason re-organized the SchoolTool Book. Tom created an annotated import spreadsheet.

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