campus-cuckoo

A client-sided web app for the discovery of vacant classrooms on busy campuses.

Inspiration

There have been many times in the past that, following a class, I have been unable to find an open table or remember which classrooms are empty and for how long. Furthermore, group projects and other small team activities often could benefit from open spaces to work, without the hassle of reserving rooms directly.

What it does

campus-cuckoo is the interface to kilobytes of scraped data regarding which rooms on campus are occupied either by ongoing classes or extracurricular scheduled events.

How I built it

Virginia Tech's Classroom A/V Services offers a wonderful yet lacking front-end for seeing the schedule of practically every public room on campus. While it does offer an in-depth view of activities, it can only do so one classroom at a time. To put it in perspective, there are 140 separate buildings representing a total of 1188 classrooms (this includes "classrooms" such as the infamous "Animal Judging Pavilion" and "Wood Processing Lab", but nevertheless it is a sight to behold).

This data-collection aspect of this hack is powered by a series of Python scripts that utilize requests and BeautifulSoup to probe and scrape the schedules for every single one of these rooms (sorry!). From there, the data is JSON encoded and trivially parsed in the browser.

Challenges I ran into

Before coming upon the A/V services' website, I had originally scraped the course timings from the university timetable. Inevitably, this did not accurately represent the current status of each room by the fact that reservations are much more flexible.

I also had expected to run into issues with the size of the data, and especially the fact that it was going to be thrown at every browser that visits the website. Fortunately though, this was not an issue.

License

campus-cuckoo is released under the MIT license. See LICENSE for more information

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