At the J-School, we loan out tons of equipment to students and faculty – still and video cameras, projectors, laptops, minidisc recorders, microphones, etc. We’ve long struggled to find ways to keep track of everything, and to prevent items and rooms from being double-booked. There are a bunch of commercial apps out there (like ye olde Meeting Maker) designed for resource scheduling, but they’re expensive, and we’re dealing with a deep UC budget crunch.
Last week I went looking for open source solutions – just knew there had to be a free equivalent of Meeting Maker out there. Found and tried several, but settled on phpScheduleIt. We’re blown away. This app is of such high quality – cleanly designed, object-oriented, manages unlimited numbers of schedules (so we can have one for multimedia skills students, one for the radio program, one for faculty, one for booking classrooms, etc.), fine-grained permissions system… And because it’s written in PHP, I’ve been able to hack out a few features that didn’t suit our needs. Slowly but surely, I’m going to automate myself out of a job (yeah, right).
Students are back in full force and we’ve hit the ground running — yet another summer passes without touching 95% of my to-do list.