Student-developed website aims to pick up where CAESAR fails

Developed by students as an alternative to CAESAR, Courseseek allows users to create a tentative schedule and view potential conflicts prior to class registration.

Source: Screenshot

Developed by students as an alternative to CAESAR, Courseseek allows users to create a tentative schedule and view potential conflicts prior to class registration.

Rebecca Savransky, Reporter

As preregistration for Fall Quarter classes begins, a group of Northwestern students is trying to make the process faster and easier.

Seven students teamed up to create a website called “Courseseek” that addresses some of the flaws of the University’s course registration system, CAESAR. Courseseek went live May 13 and has had 2,133 unique visitors thus far, according to the students who created it.

“We wanted to do something to help people make their schedule,” said Corey McMahon, a Weinberg sophomore on the team. “In the beginning, all we had was a table with course information, which isn’t useful. Then, the whole project was finding a way that the information could be put to good use, and we decided on something that lets you put classes in a calendar and easily see conflicts.”

Courseseek has a calendar feature, something CAESAR lacks in the pre-registration stage. CAESAR’s course registration process is not conducive to how most students want to visualize their schedule, said Weinberg junior Moritz Gellner, a member of the development team. The website puts each class the user looks at on a calendar to view and alerts users if there is a time conflict before adding subsequent classes to their lists.

The developers started working on the website at the beginning of the quarter as a class project and have spent upwards of nine to ten hours a week on it since. The team encourages users to submit any problems they find while using the website.

“People have been really good about coming to us and saying what isn’t working about specific classes,” said McMahon, a former Daily staffer. “Most of them fall under the same bug, but it’s good to know that we have specific incidences of this bug so we can always make sure it’s fixed and working properly.”

Some students have been impressed with the website and readily giving feedback. Weinberg sophomore Augustine Santillan made a few suggestions for the site after using it to search for his classes.

“I think it’s a really cool interface, and it’s so much easier than CAESAR to just see when all the courses are,” Santillan said. “It could provide more information based on the five digit course identifier, the location of the class and maybe a link to the description.”

Weinberg sophomore Alex Krule agrees that Courseseek is a great concept and would benefit from a few added features.

“I thought it was great,” Krule said. “If it could have descriptions or CTECs, those would also be great features. But now, it’s really easy to look at the time on Courseseek and then go back to CAESAR to look at the CTECs for the professor.”

While the developers are spending most of their time trying to fix the bugs users have brought to their attention, some members of the team plan to make new additions to the website in the future.

“We have big plans with this,” Gellner said. “I don’t know how quickly we’ll be able to implement it, but our next big goal is incorporating descriptions and CTECs and to make the calendar shareable over Facebook and Twitter, so you can show people your schedule.”

Although the website is still functioning as an alpha version, it has reached a maximum of 80 to 90 visitors at one time. Students have been promoting Courseseek via social media, encouraging others to experiment with it.

“It’s the first product I’ve ever released that other people have used,” McMahon said. “It’s cool to see other people responding well and wanting to use it.”