Mimosa Tutorial

This tutorial describes the basic concepts used in Mimosa, introduces the steps you would normally take to create your timetables and then gives step-by-step instructions how to create your first Mimosa file. The tutorial does not describe the many alternative ways you could do things, the purpose is simply to show the easiest and most straightforward path to create a small Mimosa file.

Often the best way to learn to use a new tool is just to start using it. If you have not already done so, download Mimosa now. It doesn't cost anything to try it out. Familiarize yourself with the concepts used in Mimosa and then follow the steps below to create a simple Mimosa file. Jump into other help topics whenever you want to find out more. You may also find it useful to open the presentation version of this tutorial in .pdf format from the Mimosa support page.

Scheduling flow

The most common usage of Mimosa is to create and print working timetables for classes, students, teachers and rooms (or any other resources that apply). The typical work flow for this process is shown below though Mimosa does not force any particular methodology on you, you are free to work as you please, going back and forth between the views and adding data as and when you want.

Note that the path is different (and simpler) if you just want to create one weekly timetable that is repeated throughout the scheduling period. In this case you do not need to go through the Weeks view to allocate events to weeks since, if you only have one week, Mimosa will automatically do it for you. For some more sophisticated use cases you can also schedule events without using the Timetables view, for example, if the event schedules are predefined and the application is used just to detect and prevent conflicts. In such cases you can use the Instant Scheduling feature to schedule the events as you create them in the Events view.

Mimosa can create and optimise your timetables automatically after you have created the needed resources and events, but it is recommended first to create a small sample file and schedule periods manually in order to see how the application works interactively. Due to the many exceptions in scheduling it is quite unusual to be able to complete the scheduling process fully automatically.

If you have been working with some other tools previously you can usually avoid a lot of unnecessary retyping and get the data into Mimosa via one of the many Clipboard selections available.

Read through this high level description of the scheduling process before going on to the step-by-step instructions that follow for creating your first Mimosa file.

1. Define options

The Options menu is used to set the time frame for scheduling (your calendar) in the Limits and Time tabs. You can also define the categories for resources and events in the Categories tab. You can save the settings you use as defaults since they will mostly likely remain the same from year to year. They are stored along with the data file so you do not need to adjust the settings even if you work with multiple schedule files.

2. Create resources

The Resources view is used to create and manage your resources (such as classes, students, teachers, rooms, subjects and so on). Resource codes, names or categories can be used as sorting criteria in the view. You can use the commands in the Edit menu or the corresponding buttons to insert, edit or delete resources.

In order to create timetables you first need to define the things you want to create timetables for. In Mimosa these are called resources and they are defined and managed in Resources view. In schools and universities resources are, in most cases, teachers, rooms and students or sets of students (groups or classes) but may also include equipment such as projectors and other teaching aids. You can define whatever resources you like and, with the help of categories, you can give names and shortcuts for each type of resource you create. Once you have created a few resources go to the Events view to start defining which of your resources need to be present for each of the events or activities you want to schedule in your timetables.

Typical examples of resources categories are teachers, rooms, groups, persons, equipment. Up to 240 resources can be associated for each event and the maximum number of events + resources is 8191.

Examples of resources:

Groups:

Teachers:

Roomss:

Subjects:

Students:

Equipment:

You can save a lot of time and import some or all of your resource information from a spreadsheet application. Organise the information so that the first column contains the Codes, the second column the Names and the third column the Categories of the resources:

(Edit|Paste from the Clipboard)

3. Create events

Having created all, or at least some, of the resources you will activate the Events view and begin to create events in the same way that you created your resources. In addition to the key and name of the event you must also define, for each event, the number of scheduling periods you plan to use for the event and the resources that need to be present for the event to be performed (typically these would be the number of periods you plan for the course and the teacher, room and student group to be taught). A maximum of 128 resources can be added to each event. Maintaining the list of resources is accomplished with the Insert and Remove buttons. (Note that you can also edit the event lists for each resource from the resources view.)

An event in Mimosa can represent any activity in the real world that needs to be scheduled in your timetables. The event definition indicates which of your resources need to be present and how many periods need to be reserved from their timetables in order to perform the real world event or activity.

In schools and universities events are typically used to schedule courses on different subjects, each of which may require the presence of a teacher, a group of students and a room (the resources) and which may take place several times a week over several weeks (the periods of the event and their allocation to the weeks of the schedule). However, events can also represent meetings, exams, self-study periods, maintenance periods for rooms or equipment, planned absences or any other real world event or activity that needs to be considered in your timetables. You can define your own event categories in Options|Categories.

Mimosa will not allow you to schedule an event in a timetable unless all the required resources are available in the selected period, nor will it allow you to schedule more than the planned number of periods for each event. If you don't want to limit how often a particular event may appear in your timetables you should enter a large enough number for the planned periods. You can freely define the periods of your schedules (days, times and names) in Options|Time.

Examples of common event structures:

Group, teacher and room:

Group, two teachers and rooms:

Two groups, one teacher and room:

Two groups, two teachers and rooms:

Teacher, room and a list of students (personalised timetables):

As with resources, use the codes and names systematically; events can be sorted according to the same criteria as resources. See List of Events.

You can always import all or part of your event information also from a spreadsheet application:

1. Organise the information so that the first column contains the Codes, the second column the Names, the third column the Categories and the fourth column the PLANNED number periods of the events.

(Edit|Paste from the Clipboard|2 Codes, names and PLANNED periods)


2. When you have the required resource and event codes in Mimosa, you can also paste the event structures - the events and their resources. Organise the information so that the first column contains the Code of each event and the next columns the codes of the Resources that have been attached to it.

(Edit|Paste from the Clipboard|2 Replace event resources)

4. Allocate periods to weeks

When at least one of the events is created, you can then activate the Weeks view and start to allocate the events over the weeks of your calendar. This can be accomplished manually, with the Insert button or with the other commands in the Edit menu.

In Weeks view you can allocate the periods you have planned for your events to the different weeks of your schedule. If you only have one week in your schedule all periods will be allocated automatically to that week and you can go directly to the Timetables view to schedule your events.

You can define the number of weeks in your schedule in Options|Limits and give them names and align them with the calendar in Options|Time but you can also add weeks here by clicking in an empty column to add weeks and rename them by clicking on the column headers.

You can import your weekly allocated periods also from a spreadsheet application:

(Edit|Paste from the Clipboard)

Typically, the goal is to allocate the planned periods of your events as evenly as possible across the weeks of your calendar to balance the load on your resources (students and teachers) and to take account of any dependencies between them (e.g. if one event must be completed before another can start). The View menu contains several tools to help you control this process.

5. Create timetables

Once events have been created and they have been allocated to the weeks of your calendar you can start to schedule the events to specific time periods with the Timetables view. Across the top of the view you will see selection boxes that allow you to choose, from left to right, the resource whose timetable you wish to use as the Master Timetable for scheduling, the event you wish to schedule and the week you want to schedule it in.

In the Timetables view you create timetables for your resources by scheduling the events you have allocated to each of the weeks of your schedule. When you schedule an event in the timetable of one resource Mimosa automatically schedules it in the timetables of all the other resources required for the event, taking care that no conflicts occur.

If you only have one week in your timetables Mimosa will automatically allocate all your events to that week. If you have more than one week (defined in Options|Limits) you need to allocate your events to weeks in the Weeks View before you can schedule them in this view.

You can select the timetables and events in any order for scheduling and you can make bookings to timetables to prevent scheduling to inappropriate slots.

You can select the Insert or Erase mode (by typing the [Insert] or [Del] key), depending on whether you wish to schedule or unschedule your events. Then, simply by highlighting the area in the timetable on top left and clicking the appropriate action button or by double-clicking the cell you want to change you can start to schedule your events to specific periods in the timetable. You can quickly schedule each event that has been allocated to the selected week by selecting the events one by one from the list of possible events. Once all the events have been scheduled in the current timetable you can use the Search Button (or type [F3] key) to find the next timetable with events that need to be scheduled.

When scheduling events that have more than one related resource in the Master Timetable you will see the related timetables on the right. These show how the same data is reflected in the timetables of the other resources that make up the event. The synchronisation between the timetables is maintained by Mimosa for you. By double-clicking any element in a supporting timetable you can switch it with the Master Timetable to make it the active resource for viewing and updating the schedule. In this way you can easily switch between resources to, for example, first schedule the event from the point of view of the teacher and then switch to the class timetable to see how it fits with the other events scheduled for the class (possibly with different teachers).

Mimosa helps you through the scheduling process by automatically showing you those events and resources that are relevant to the timetable you are viewing, by indicating which of these are complete, by allowing you to quickly switch between the timetables of the related resources and by allowing you to easily locate the next event to be scheduled. Whenever you attempt to schedule (or unschedule) an event in a timetable, Mimosa will prevent you from creating inconsistencies and will ensure the change is immediately reflected in the timetables of all the other resources that are required for that event.

All four of the previously described Mimosa views (Resources view, Events view, Weeks view and Timetables view) access the same data. You can view and edit the data through any of the Mimosa views you like and in any order you like but, for the most part, the basic flow is the same as described above.

You can manage timetables in Mimosa with the help of 10 alternative scheduling tools. Select from this link the most appropriate and effective tool for your scheduling requirements.

6. Publish timetables

Having created the timetables you can print them, and a whole host of other reports from your data, or you can copy data to the Clipboard for further analysis. All reports can be printed in HTML format and the data can be shared with other users of the internet or intranet.

Create your first Mimosa schedule with these simple steps

In the following steps you are instructed to create timetables based on a couple of resources and events. Although this small example does not represent any real application it does give you a quick introduction to the work flow described above. Once you have created this small example you will have a good understanding of the basics and be better equipped to dive in to the help files and start creating your own schedule with real data.

The data used in this example is installed in the subfolder data of the installation folder, with the file names

  • sample_tiny_step_1.mfw
  • sample_tiny_step_2.mfw
  • sample_tiny_step_3.mfw
  • sample_tiny_step_4.mfw

You can access these files directly by selecting File|Open a sample file from the Mimosa File menu.

If you think you are really in too much of a hurry to input any data to test this application you can instead invoke the interactive wizard that creates a random sample file (by selecting File|Make a demo file) or you can just open the sample files listed above (by selecting File|Open) at the appropriate point below.

Four Mimosa views

  • Mimosa has four views, and one of them is in turn activated
  • All views access the same data, but from a different angle
  • You can change the view anytime by clicking the appropriate icon on top of the screen
  • Mimosa views are: Resources view, Events view, Weeks view and Timetables view

Step 1 - Invoke Mimosa and get started!

  • Invoke Mimosa Scheduling Software
  • Select File|New from the menu
  • You are prompted to select the file containing basic settings and report texts in your language (or another language you prefer)
  • Select a file (such as english.cfw) or skip the selection with the [Cancel] button
  • Next you are prompted to change your options
  • Skip also this selection with the [Cancel] button - you can return back to options anytime later on
  • Now you are ready to start to enter your own data!

Step 2 - Create your first resource

Resources are the entities you are creating timetables for. In educational institutions resources are typically groups of students, teachers, rooms or equipment. The different kind of resource types are called categories. You can create your own categories and use Mimosa anywhere!

  • By default, you have now activated Resources view
  • Click the [+] button on the top left of the view to create your first resource
  • Enter the Code, Name and select the Category for this resource
  • Type Form-A as the code, Group Form-A as the name and check that G:Groups is selected for its category
  • Click the [OK] button to accept your input

Step 3 - Create some more resources

To make this example quick but a bit more realistic, create a few more resources. In most cases, the same list of resources can be used every year and Mimosa permits you to enter thousands of them - you can also create resources you do not need yet.

  • You have now created your first resource in Resources view!
  • Next add some more resources with the [+] button, for instance, 2 more groups, 3 teachers and 3 rooms remember to select the appropriate category for each of them
  • At this stage, do not worry what the columns *, PLANNED, ALLOCATED, SCHEDULED and LINKS mean you will find that out very soon!

  • Sample file: sample_tiny_step_1.mfw

Step 4 - Create your first event

Without the resource dependencies captured in a Mimosa event definition creating timetables would be a trivial task and you would not perhaps need this application at all! You can use events in Mimosa to schedule courses, exams, meetings or any other activities you need.

  • Click the Events icon at the top of the window to activate the Events view
  • Click the [+] button at top left to create your first event
  • Enter the Code and the Name, select the Category and enter the number of times this event will take place in the PLANNED field

Step 5 - Add resources to events

Each event needs to have at least one resource to be able to be scheduled and you can select up to 240 resources for each event, depending on your requirements.

  • Suppose your event represents a course taught to group Form-A by teacher Brown in room 123
  • Select the resources you need from the box on the right:
    1) Click each resource in turn and click the [Add] button, or
    2) keep the [Ctrl] key down, click all the resources you want to select and accept the selection by clicking the [Add] button
  • Accept the result by clicking [OK]

Step 6 - Add some more events

Adding some other events will help you to understand how they add more complexity. Events often use the same resources in different contexts, for example one teacher (a resource) may teach many courses (events), so the more events you have the more restricted your scheduling options become. Events cannot be scheduled at the same time if they share a common resource (unless you specifically allow this for a certain resource category in Options|Timetables).

Following the instructions above, create other basic courses (i.e. events) containing one (random) group, teacher and room

Explanations for the other terms in this view:

  • *: shortcut for the event category (you can change categories in Options|Categories)
  • PLANNED: the number of time periods you plan to schedule for your event
  • ALLOCATED: the number of periods of your event currently allocated to weeks - in this example all periods are automatically allocated to the one and only week in our schedule
  • SCHEDULED: the number of periods of your event already scheduled in timetables - it has the value 0 for now
  • LINKS: the number of resources attached to this event

  • Sample file: sample_tiny_step_2.mfw

Step 7 - Take a look at your resources!

When you take a look at your resources, you will see how the information you have entered in your events reflects also in this view. For instance, PLANNED is now the total number of periods planned for each resource, calculated from all the events they are attached to.

  • Click the Resources icon at the top of the window again
  • The information you entered in the Events view is displayed from the viewpoint of each resource and the values in the columns PLANNED, ALLOCATED, SCHEDULED and LINKS are automatically calculated from the events they are attached to
  • Resources and Events views are symmetric and they both enable you to edit the same event structures
  • With this information you can already create timetables!

Step 8 - Start creating timetables!

To be able to create timetables, you had to create some resources first and then connect them to events. When you create timetables, Mimosa lets you do the scheduling and print or publish them from the point of view of any of the resources you have defined. You can always select the timetable you want to access. Mimosa automatically takes care that all timetables will be synchronised according to the event definitions you have made, you only have to schedule each event to one resource's timetable. Thus, if you do the scheduling from the groups' point of view, for instance, also the timetables of teachers and rooms are updated accordingly.

  • Click on the Timetables view icon at the top of the window
  • The timetable is filled by green check-marks ()
  • Double-click these slots to schedule events to them
  • Double-click the scheduled events again to remove them
  • When all the planned periods of the current event have been scheduled the check-marks disappear
  • Press the [F3] key to search for other events to schedule

Step 9 - More tools in timetables

When you schedule more and more events you will note that there are less and less options (or empty cells) available for scheduling. Therefore you may need to remove already scheduled periods, move them to other cells and so on. Whatever Mimosa tools you use, you do not have to worry about making double-bookings (or conflicts) and you can always Undo and Redo all your actions.

  • You will soon notice that events cannot be scheduled in all cells - they are marked with red no entry signs ()
  • Double-click it to find out why you cannot schedule there
  • Select cells and press the [SPACE] key to set or remove bookings (reservations in the resource's timetable where events cannot be scheduled e.g. if a teacher is not available all day on some days of the week)

  • Sample file: sample_tiny_step_3.mfw

Step 10 - More events and colours

  • You may like to create some more events with different structures and create split groups, meetings and so on
  • You may like to set colours to your events and/or resources to better highlight them on screen and published timetables
  • If you have several weeks or terms, you might like to use the tools of the Weeks view in the next topic

  • Sample file: sample_tiny_step_4.mfw

Step 11 - Weeks view

  • This view is needed, if you maintain schedules for two or more weeks and they use same resources and/or events
  • The layout in Weeks view is analogous with a spreadsheet (Excel) table: (Rows = Events, Columns = Weeks or terms)
  • In Weeks view you can reuse the same event many times on several weeks and you can also have a better picture about events, their order and distribution of periods by resources
  • Alternatively, you can also copy from your Mimosa file weekly Mimosa files
  • Select the number of weeks in Options|Limits or click the grid on the week you want to select

Note that if you have intially set the maximum number of weeks to = 1 in Options|Limits, you do not necessary need this Weeks view at all, since all periods are automatically allocated to the only week and they are ready to be scheduled in Timetables view.

When you increase the number of maximum weeks (for instance to 5), you can reuse the same events and allocate their periods on several weeks.

To fill the grid with weekly periods, you can enter their values directly to the cell, but you also can use for instance the menu selections Edit|Copy week and Edit|Paste week to copy the periods of selected events from one column to another column and edit them afterwards.

When you [Double-click] the grid, the sums of the periods by resources become visible. This enables you to change allocate the periods of events to weeks, but in the same time keep track of the weekly load of resources.

Using the tools in Weeks view, you will create the needed periods for each week and they are ready to be scheduled in Timetables view.

Examples of special events

All your event structures do not necessarily fall into Group-Teacher-Room combinations. For instance, rooms may be dedicated to a specific group or teacher attached to the event. In this case rooms are not needed at all and the events are then Group-Teacher combinations. In many universities, groups are often omitted and the course events take the form Teacher-Room and so on. Below are other typical examples of special event structures - Mimosa does not set any limitations to your requirements or creativity!

  • I want to teach two or more groups at the same time
  • i.e. one teacher teaches a course to two or more groups at the same time in the same room
  • Event structure: two or more groups plus one teacher and room

  • I want to split the group(s) into two parts for two teachers
  • i.e. one or more groups will be split into several rooms to be taught the same course by different teachers
  • (Note that if the groups are often split the same way it may be better to actually create different resources and include all of them in events where the group is complete)
  • Event structure: group(s) plus required teachers and rooms

  • I want to schedule a meeting for all teachers
  • Event structure: all teachers plus one room

Step 12 - Publish timetables

When you are happy with your timetables the next task is to print them on a printer or as HTML-files to be published on the web.

  • Select from the first tab of the Print menu the third selection - 3. Timetables
  • Click Select codes to select those resources you want include in your report
  • On tab Print|Selections you can select to print or publish: click Print to printer or Publish on web
  • On tab Print|Timetables you can change the appearance of your timetables
  • Finally, click the button Printer or Web on the bottom of screen to start printing or publishing

Sample output format of one the many report layouts that are available.

All Mimosa features were not covered in these steps

This brief tutorial only scratches the surface of Mimosa's capabilities. Explore the application and the help files to discover these and many more useful features designed to help you solve your problems...

  • You can import all data from your spreadsheet application
  • You can create up to 8000+ resources and events
  • Your events may contain up to 240 resources
  • You can manage timetables of up to 255 weeks
  • You can define any kind of activities with events, such as period courses, exams, meetings, split groups, personalised timetables
  • You can publish and/or print your timetables and other data and copy results to your spreadsheet application
  • You can create all or selected sections of your timetables automatically and let Mimosa create compact timetables
  • You can define all your parameters in Options menu selection
  • You can merge Mimosa files with unlimited other users
  • You can import/export your data in text format
  • You can export your timetables to other calendar applications
  • You can transfer data between Mimosa and your favourite spreadsheet application via the Clipboard (see below)

Using the Clipboard

The Clipboard represents one of the many productive tools in Mimosa which enable you to input your data faster if they are stored in a spreadsheet application. Using Clipboard you can also create statistics in over 40 formats which are helpful in calculating course loads and costs.

In most cases it is more productive to input your data with the help of the Clipboard. Use your favourite spreadsheet application, input your data there and copy it to the Clipboard, then go to Mimosa and paste it from the Clipboard there.

1. In your spreadsheet application, input the following table:

2. Select the above area and then select Edit|Copy (or equivalent) in your spreadsheet application to copy it to the Clipboard.

3. Go to Mimosa and activate Resources view (click the button on top of the screen).

4. Select in Mimosa Edit|Paste from the Clipboard - 9 new resources should appear.

5. Go to your spreadsheet application, input then the basic information of the following 7 events:

6. Select the above area and then select Edit|Copy (or equivalent) in your spreadsheet application to copy it to the Clipboard.

7. Go to Mimosa and activate Events view (click the button on top of the screen).

8. Select Edit|Paste from the Clipboard|1 Codes, names and PLANNED periods - the list of 7 events should now appear.

9. To add also the resources to events via Clipboard, go to your spreadsheet application and input the following table:

10. Select the above area and then select Edit|Copy (or equivalent) in your spreadsheet application to copy it to the Clipboard.

11. Select (in Events view) Edit|Paste from the Clipboard|2 Replace event resources to add resources to the events.

Note that in the last operation, the first column contains event codes and the next columns the corresponding resources that should be added to that event. All event and resource codes in this table must already exist in Mimosa.

After this operation, you should have 9 resources and 7 events. Steps 9-11 are often easier to perform in Events window, since the application checks that the resources to be added to events are valid in cases when events have already been scheduled.