Ignite presentation on a UW room availability web service

Ignite presentation on a UW room availability web service

Attending journalism conventions in high school (and afterward), I’d always go see presentations based on the recommendation of the journalism adviser. “You’ve gotta go to this one,” he’d say, “even if you don’t care about sports”—I sure didn’t—”because the guy just lights himself on fire and gets into it.” I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly, but the presentations sure were energetic and fun. Well, despite their name, “Ignite” presentations don’t actually light anyone on fire. So what are they? A distillation of a topic into its most salient points, and I’ll be giving my first one later today; it’s on the topic of a room availability web service at the University of Washington.

A full definition can be found at Wikipedia, but in summary: the presentation consists of 20 auto-advancing slides, each visible for only 15 seconds. Do the math to learn it’s a 5-minute presentation that by its very nature cannot rely on bullet-point-heavy slides that the presenter reads from. Perhaps the best explanation is the catchphrase: “Enlighten us, but make it quick.”

The topic

I built a web application (using PHP, jQuery, and a few of its key plug-ins) that consumes a web service (WS) recently published at the University of Washington. The WS is powered by software called R25 by CollegeNet and contains availability information for all of the UW’s classrooms. It’s a ton of data that previously hadn’t be (easily) available to people on campus who are responsible for scheduling departments’ classes each quarter; those folks are called timeschedule coordinators and referred to as “TS coordinators” in the slides below.

My presentation gives an overview of the WS and what the current problem that the web app attempts to solve. It then dives into the application itself: the design philosophy, stumbling blocks I encountered, the PHP code and jQuery plug-ins I used to build it, and how we plan to improve it in the (near) future. Of course, with only 15 seconds per slide, to say that each of these topics is covered only briefly would be an understatement.

The presentation

Below are images of the slides in the presentation. Though Ignite presentation slides should not be animated, I included a bit of a crutch: a 15-second animated GIF that counts down the seconds remaining on that slide (of course, it’s not animated in the images below).

I’ve never given an Ignite presentation before but I’ve delivered plenty of “regular” presentations so I felt comfortable doing this. As a fan of Edward Tufte, I really don’t like PowerPoint much and always tried to use my presentation slides as a jumping-off point rather than following slavishly along to the information presented therein. So I viewed these auto-advancing slides as:

  1. a way to jog my memory of what to (quickly!) talk about; and
  2. some interesting/fun visuals to entertain the audience (I think I really succeeded with the intro and LOLcat slides).

And here they are:

You can also download my actual PowerPoint presentation if you want the full, auto-advancing experience (or just want a template to use for your own Ignite presentations).

What sort of experiences have you had with Ignite presentations?

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  1. Scott,

    Thanks for posting this. This is exactly the kind of thing that we need to do here. We use R25 (provided by central university IT) and I’ve got an XML feed from it that I’ve crudely hacked into other XML and into text. I’m wondering whether we also have web services in addition and our R25 admin may not know about this. What version of R25 do you have? Is web services a separate module or does it come with the stock product from CollegeNet?

    Thanks! Ben Chapman

  2. @Ben – You’re most welcome, I’m glad you found it useful. As for your questions about R25, you’re probably best served by asking your IT folks about it. My understanding is the web service module for R25 was provided for free, but I can’t say for certain as I’m not part of that group. Our R25 version isn’t the latest, I know that; but I’m not certain which it is. Sorry I don’t have the specifics for you.

  3. Ethan Magoon

    I was thinking about doing this using WordPress to display the R25 data. Thoughts?


  1. R25 Web Service now available « On the ROA - [...] tool was written by our friend Scott Bush at the Office of the University Registrar. Please see his blog ...

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