This file documents how to use the Macromolecular Crystallography Facility online instrument scheduling application.


The application is made up of a Postgres SQL database back end with a number of PHP-based web pages making up the interface on the front-end. This provides a platform-independent mechanism for people to interact with and view the schedule from any computer on the internet that has a web browser and is authorized to connect.

User and Adminstrative Functions

The web pages are divided into two categories, those accessible to users of the system, and those accessible to administrators.

The pages that are intended for administrative access are protected with a password. When these functions are accessed, a login screen will be presented so that the administrator can authenticate herself to the application and continue on to schedule instrument time and maintain the user database.

User functions are not password protected. The pages are restricted by IP number only. Contact the administrators to have an IP number added to the access list. Except for viewing the schedule, all functions require a valid username that is assigned by the administrator of the scheduling system.

Mechanism for Requesting and Assigning X-ray Time

To request instrument time, a user (with a valid scheduling username) needs to visit the request page and fill out the form there. The request is stored in the database with all other pending requests.

At regular intervals, the schedule administrator move requests out of the request queue, and into the actual schedule. Once assigned a slot, the administrator can easily slide the assigned block of time forward or backward on the schedule if needed. Once the block of time has been assigned into the schedule, it will be removed the from the request queue.

How to Use Each Page

The administrative pages have their own help page, accessible here.

The schedule calendar is the main page for viewing instrument status, and the one you are likely to visit most frequently. To use it, select the diffractometer schedule you wish to view from the dropdown box and click go. The calendar for that diffractometer will appear, overlayed with users in their assigned time slots.

The usernames of scheduled users appear as hyperlinks on the calendar. Choosing a link will bring up detailed contact information for that user in a separate window. This facilitates contacting the individual who is on the diffractometer immediately before or after your scheduled slot in order to coordinate your activities.

The schedule calendar page can be accessed here.

The request queue, not to be confused with the schedule, is a database of pending requests for time. The view reqests page allows you to see who has requested time on which diffractometer. In order to use it, select the instrument for which you wish to see the queue and click go. All details of each the request appear, including who made the request, when it was made, the amount of time requested, and the desired start time. Usernames appear as hyperlinks to their contact information.

The request queue can be viewed here.

Reporting issues is done using the online form. Issues concerning instrumentation or other equipment in the facility should be described in detail. Pressing the submit button forwards the issue report to the facility manager, enters the report in the database, and posts the report on the status page for that instrument.