October 3, 2019 | News

Tech Talk Q&A

In this Tech Talk, John dove into the inception of LabFind, what we’ve learned from customers so far, and where we’re taking the app in the future.

7 min

Thank you to all who joined our live Tech Talk! The recording is available to view.

Tech Talk: LabFind and the Dynamic IT Environment

In this Tech Talk, John, the LabStats Product Manager, dove into the inception of LabFind, what we’ve learned from customers so far, and where we’re taking the app in the future. 

We were able to answer a few questions on air and have reached out to others directly. We’ve included the most popular questions and answers about LabFind below.

SCHEDULES

What is your suggestion for LabStats/LabFind when dealing with building hours that change during academic breaks?

Schedules in LabStats and LabFind are displayed in real time. Currently, you cannot set a future schedule that’s different from the current schedule. If labs are open during breaks, you’ll just need to go in and change the schedules at the beginning and the end of each academic break. If all labs are closed during academic breaks, you can assign holidays so they show as closed. As soon as you change the schedules in LabStats, it will automatically update in LabFind. Our team is looking into ways to add more dynamic scheduling abilities to both LabStats and LabFind.

Do you have a suggestion for displaying schedules for labs that are also used as classrooms? If the lab is used for classes during the day, but open to all students in the evenings, what’s the best way to communicate availability?

We built LabFind to tell students what resources are available to them in real-time. If a lab is not available for open use for any reason, it shows up as closed in LabFind. We’re interested in seeing if we need to surface more complexity to student users, like adding messaging or notifications that show a lab is unavailable because a class is in session.

Are you planning to allow .CSV uploads of schedules? Some of the classrooms have complex schedules and adding them is tedious.

That’s a great idea and we’re already looking into it. As soon as we figure out how to do it, that’s a feature we definitely want to add.

LOCATIONS

We noticed the app forces users to detect current location, otherwise the app exits abruptly. Is it possible to allow the app to enter location manually for privacy reasons?

We are actively working to resolve the abrupt crashing behavior and plan to add messaging about the need to turn on location services. We had not considered having a manual location option as the main function of the app is to provide navigation services, which are dependent on knowing the users’ location. We’d love to learn more about specific use cases for manually entering location, or opting out of some of the location services for privacy reasons.

How does LabFind manage universities with labs in multiple colleges?

We recommend offering one unified experience for students, so they can find a lab anywhere on campus. If each college has separate LabStats instances, you can merge them into the same LabFind experience. See: How to Join/Host LabFind

Are there ways to advertise labs on the LabFind app for other schools within the university who don’t use LabStats on their computers?

LabFind is powered by LabStats, which means that it works best with LabStats data. If a lab has LabStats installed, students can see the availability of those computers in real time, and navigate to the lab. 

If a lab does not have LabStats installed, there is a workaround, but you won’t get all the features. You can create a group in LabStats, and then enable it as a lab in LabFind. Students will be able to see the lab in LabFind, but they won’t be able to see how many computers are available, or any live status updates. They’ll just see that the room exists. 

Download the LabFind Awareness Kit for resources to encourage other colleges or labs to install LabStats on their computers.

I have found that the navigation feature that lists the nearest lab does not list the correct lab. What could be causing that issue?

This could be one of two issues. First, schedules need to be assigned to labs for them to display in LabFind. If the nearest lab does not have a schedule assigned, it will not be visible in LabFind.

Second, LabFind will only navigate you to the nearest available computer. Available is defined as scheduled open and not in use. If you know there is a closer computer that LabFind is not directing you towards, it’s likely being used. The app may be sending you to a lab that’s a bit further away because that lab is open and has available computers.

DOMAINS

Can we add more than one domain so faculty/staff also has access to the app? Currently the domain feature has limitations: having university.edu, does not include students.university.edu. 

Unfortunately it’s not possible to use multiple domains with LabFind at this time. You’ll want to use the domain that’s in the students’ email address, so they can log in and use the app. We understand that a number of schools could benefit from LabFind supporting multiple domains, so we’re looking into how we might add that capability in the future. 

Will LabFInd allow for more than one organization email domain entry?

That is absolutely a feature we are committed to adding in the near term.

INTEGRATIONS

We have our own app, is it possible to integrate LabFind into our app rather than it being separate?

Yes. Every app is different, but the short answer is that all the data is available through our API. It is possible to build a LabFind type experience within your app. Reach out to John or the Support Team for details.

Is LabFind available for On Premises LabStats users?

Currently, LabFind is only available for LabStats Cloud customers, but we’re actively working on a solution for On Premises users. We’ll let you know as soon as it’s available.

FEATURES

Can photos of the building be used instead of the illustration of the lab on the app?

We’re actively working on improving the look and feel of the app, so students can find what they’re searching for even easier. We’re looking at a couple different ways to replace the default illustration. Likely, it will be populated by Google Street View images, but we’re also looking into ways to add a manual override so that you can upload your own photos. This feature will be coming in a future release, and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available.

Can we limit the software list to only the tracked applications? Currently the list is way too long, and includes non-academic apps that don’t interest students.

Our team is actively working on this, and our goal is to make the software list as practical and easy-to-use as possible. There may be students who are looking for applications that aren’t tracked. So we’re also looking into additional messaging that tells students if an app they searched for was spelled incorrectly, or is simply not available on campus.

Any advice on how to run an emulator on my desktop that will let me see in realtime what LabFind is showing on a mobile device?

We looked into this for our sales team but found that a better solution was to purchase a dedicated phone that runs on wi-fi for testing and demos. Without GPS, desktops make for poor emulators. We’d love to know what specific LabFind view your interested in keeping tabs on as we may want to build that view into LabStats.

Is there a way for students to leave comments, questions or concerns in the LabFind app?

That’s a great suggestion. We’re looking into creating some sort of feedback/communication tool in LabFind.

Is there an option/icon that lets students know that lab assistants are available to help students?

Thanks for the feedback, that’s a great suggestion and we’ve added it to our list of features to consider. 

A big thank you to all who participated in the Tech Talk! We loved hearing your questions. If you still have some unanswered, or would like to chat in more detail about making LabFind or the API work for your environment, please schedule a tutorial or email support@labstats.com.

If you have suggestions and want to help shape the future of LabFind and LabStats, join our Influencer Group at influencer.labstats.com.

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