The rebirth or death of CAESAR
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    Video by Jon Palmer and Nesa Mangal / North by Northwestern

    CAESAR has long been a thorn in the side of nearly every Northwestern student. In no other context could the phrase “We should totally just stab Caesar” be as infuriatingly appropriate or irritatingly common. Hopefully, a new initiative by ASG will prove to be the Brutus to our CAESAR.

    RedesigNU: Hackathon is a 24 hour event to develop an idea for a better tool that students can use for multiple different resources at Northwestern, the most notable being the Class Search system. While the specific end product of the event is not clear, as it could mean anything from a redesign for CAESAR to a University-sanctioned web tool, the idea behind it could mean a long overdue improvement. Even a simple new web tool to improve CAESAR would be vastly superior to what we have now.

    CAESAR was first implemented for Winter Quarter registration in 1999. Of course, there has been the occasional major update, though CAESAR has essentially always been behind the times. The current layout looks like a website out of the early 2000s or earlier, and its functionality is about on par with its design. RedesigNU: Hackathon could be the first breakthrough to make CAESAR seem more like a helpful tool than an enemy to battle each time registration rolls around.

    There are a few major gripes about CAESAR that are not likely to be changed anytime soon. These issues are most likely embedded deep in the code of CAESAR, lurking somewhere, implemented only for the perverse enjoyment of CAESAR’s creator. Some such exasperating features include the back button on browsers thrusting you back onto the home page, or the inability to have CAESAR open on multiple tabs. If these were fixed by the Hackathon, that alone would be worth the event.

    However, the more likely results of the Hackathon will update other areas that could still use immense improvement. A search function that is easier to navigate could filter by CTEC grades, key words in course descriptions, time or even exam schedules making it much easier for students to find classes that fit whatever criteria they choose. This search could also result in a list that brings together all the data for classes from different parts of CAESAR. Course times, exam schedules, descriptions, CTECs and all sorts of other important data could be on, or at least easily accessible from, one screen.

    The consolidation of the many different class tools would make for a much simpler navigation of CAESAR as well. Instead of having a section for search classes, another for browse, another for descriptions, and yet another for CTECs, there could be just one section dedicated to classes.

    Essentially, the main goals of the teams at Hackathon should be simplicity and functionality. Integrate as many functions as possible into one without turning the page design into chaos, and make CAESAR a much more effective tool. CAESAR has two options after the Hackathon: Integrate the top results of the teams, or be defeated by a newer, sleeker, and hopefully more powerful application that streamlines the registration process, something that would benefit all of Northwestern.


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