By Mark | January 14, 2010
The Railway Turnover System is designed to permit many people to share a single document, with every person updating at random intervals and all edits showing up on everyone else’s document immediately. The software emulates the paper charts used in the offices, and displays one or more grids simultaneously.
The software is designed to be as easy to use as possible, while also permitting random and frequent updates to any portions of the data. It is somewhat like an Excel spreadsheet which is shared by many people, and as any one person changes a cell that change is immediately updated on any other persons spreadsheet. The effect is to bring cohesion to the randomness of the turnover sheet system, increase communication between all team members, and provide a history of modifications made by each desk.
The software requires Windows XP/Vista/7, plus the Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0. You may download that directly from Microsoft from:
This is a reasonably large update to Windows. Vista includes the .Net Framework as part of its installation process, so you do not need to add .Net to your Vista computers.
Click on the following link to download the Railway Turnover System.
To install the software, simply unzip the download into a directory of your choice. Run the rrTurnover.exe program, which will ask you for the network directory for the database. This database is shared by all people who use the software, so you need to place it in a shared network folder. If the database does not exist in the folder you selected, it will create a new database in that folder. The program will then open to an empty work area.
The top of the screen has a menu. Click on the Views menu, and the “Show …” item. That expands to a list of sheets to select from. Select Walker Flat Yard. That sheet is now displayed, and you may edit the various cells within it. After modifying a cell, press enter. The cell background changes to yellow, indicating a cell that has changed recently. This change is immediately broadcast to everyone else who is viewing the Walker Flat Yard sheet. If they had also updated the sheet, then both changes will be highlighted.
At the bottom left of the screen is a box labeled “Highlight changes”, and you may set the time interval. This lets you highlight cells changed in the last minute, last 5 minutes, or up to the last 4 hours.
Hopefully that sounds easy enough, because that was the intention. Now, do this same thing with 10 or more people randomly updating the same pages as they plan the daily schedules, and you will see the power of the concept. Desktops are suddenly shared between teams of people, and those people can be in different physical locations; all they need is common access to the network through a Local Area Network, or Wide Area Network.
The software is currently in Beta testing stage, so it is not a completed project. This download is for testing of proof of concept, and as a point of discussion regarding features to be added before release.
Update Apr/2010: We will be releasing this project as open source on the Microsoft Codeplex in late 2010.
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