One of the most daunting aspects of visiting the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is planning your time with almost 3000 shows taking place across more than 300 venues throughout the month of August. This is something I discovered for myself when I first visited the festival, and it took me well over a week to look through the festival catalogue and put together a plan for my visit.
After doing this two years running I began my final year of university knowing that a main aspect of that year was a project that would span both terms. This lead me to the idea of using this project time to develop something that would help to automate this planning process as best as possible.
Using a number of technologies that were new to me, while also being able to incorporate API data from the festival, the next year would bring a number of different challenges all of which I was able to work through to develop the finished application.
The finished application gives users the option to sign up to an account and then search through the full listing of shows available at the festival. They can then go through this list picking the shows that they want to see as well as how important it is that they see particular shows. Once all of their selections are made they can then click through to see a generated plan that takes all of their selected shows, as well as details about the venues, then uses Google Maps data to work out a plan that fits the most shows into their final plan.
Once completed I was able to showcase this project at the universities Graduation Exhibition, during which I spent the day demonstrating the project to visitors and judges. I was, in a word, shocked when at the end of the day this project was awarded joint first place in the discipline of ‘Web Awards’. You can read more about that in my Grad-Ex blog post.
After university I continued to work on the application, trying to get it to a point where I would be happy to use it to plan my own time at the festival in 2016. When I did visit the festival I had my plan all mapped out through the application and so the only thing left to do was run it through testing. I’m very happy to say that the application held up perfectly and I was even able to make some last minute changes on the fly.
During this year I also opened up the application to a few users for testing one of whom said;
I found Fringe Planner really easy to use and straightforward to understand. It helped me plan a full week at the festival, especially as someone who hadn’t visited Edinburgh before and would have otherwise found getting around tricky.
– Sarah Hughes, Application Tester