By Thomas Scott
In order for students to reserve spaces on campus for events, Union takes advantage of a software package known as 25live. According to software vendor CollegeNet, 25Live aids its users in “scheduling, publishing and registration” and also “manages the scheduling of classes and events … (by) allowing authorized users to search for and request or book times, venues and resources on the web.”
However, two Union students have noticed aspects of 25Live’s user interface that need improvement because they cause the software to lack in performance. The students tested the software and reported their findings.
One of the first things that Ben Berger ’15, a computer science major, noticed was, “When you click the ‘Create Event’ button on the home page, it displays a message saying ‘Loading Event Wizard.’”
But before you can register an event, you must first log in. Ian Mowers ’16, a computer engineering major, noted, “Unless you hit ‘Event Wizard’ or ‘Create an Event,’ (there is) nothing clearly asking you to sign in” save for a miniscule button in the top right of the window and a slightly larger tab at the bottom left-hand side.
Mowers did say that he found it “very convenient that all you need is to type in your Union (username and password) to access” 25live’s event scheduling features.
Berger, however, noticed sluggishness with regards to the speed with which 25live’s database allows users to feed it information. After Berger selected “Create an Event,” a form was returned “more than (a) second later.” He asserted that this was “a long time for a user interface” and that “500 (milliseconds) should be the absolute max for a responsive feel.”
In addition, even after waiting a second for the form to be shown, all that was displayed were three “text boxes (that) appear(ed), asking for the basic event info.” According to Berger, this delay may have been “spent fetching information from a database to populate the drop-down menus for the text boxes.” Instead of this seemingly roundabout approach, Berger suggested that the site display “the text boxes immediately and (fetch) the information from the database in the background.”
Moreover, Berger also suggested implementing loading messages for drop-down menus in order to save time and increase user-friendliness.
Berger asserted that if 25live were to take advantage of these changes, “the load time would be cut from over 1 second to under 100 (milliseconds)” which is “a factor of 10.” Moreover, if CollegeNet were to “do this all over the site,” said Berger, 25live would “have a massive, very noticeable, increase in performance.”
Mowers also had some critiques the software. He pointed out, “The home dashboard is a bit lopsided” in that “all the (quick) searches are on one side.” Moreover, he asserted that he didn’t “understand why the Dashboard and Calendar … tabs are on the right side, while the other … tabs, like for Events, are on the left side.”
Mowers stated that while 25live “seems … fine to use if you’re someone that needs to use it frequently … first-time users may be confused” when they attempt to use it.
Software vendor CollegeNet also claims that 25live is “(b)uilt using the latest Web 2.0 technologies.”
Web 2.0 refers to websites that let their users actively participate in them, as opposed to passively viewing their contents. One example of Web 2.0 in action is a social media site such as Facebook, which permits users to make a profile as well as to post text and images and communicate with one another through private messages.
The term Web 2.0 was criticized by physicist Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, in a 2004 interview with IBM developerWorks. Berners-Lee claimed that term was “a piece of jargon” because “the idea of … interaction … is really what the Web is” in the first place.