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Information technology tools and resources at the UW

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Enterprise Data & Analytics and Enterprise Data Warehouse news item

Data Alert for ODS and FinancialSumMart

Last night we did not receive all of our BudgetIndex reference data. This means some records in the following tables may have NULL values in some columns.
1) ODS..BudgetActivityDetail
2) FinancialSumMart..AcctngMonthExpenseSum
3) FinancialSumMart..AcctngMonthGrantBudgetSum
4) FinancialSumMart..AcctngMonthTransSum
5) FinancialSumMart..FYBudgetExpenseSum
6) FinancialSumMart..BienBudgetExpenseSum

The estimate for when this problem will be fixed is tomorrow, 10/24/2018, before 10:00 AM.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Web Services moves to AWS Cloud Containers creating capacity and improving operational efficiency

August 3, 2018 – The Enterprise Web Services (EWS) team is excited to announce the move of the UW Web Service Registry to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud utilizing containers.

Running UW Web Service Registry containers in the AWS Cloud allows the EWS team to build robust and scalable services and systems by leveraging AWS Cloud benefits such as automatability, availability, security, and economies of scale.

“Beyond all the benefits of containerization, deploying the UW Web Services Registry container to the AWS Cloud lowers the cost of entry and sets the solid groundwork for deploying future containerized projects. The automation we were able to create is a huge benefit to our small team allowing us to be more agile and experimental in the future,” said Chris Cannon, EWS Software Engineer.

Using an array of technologies such as Github (source control), Travis CI (build and packaging), and Slack (human notification systems) as well as a combination of Amazon products like Container Registry (storage of docker containers), Elastic Container Service (orchestration of docker images), Route 53 and Application Load Balancing (automatic mapping of new runtimes to existing DNS routes), the EWS team is able to offer an automatic “create and update” to its infrastructure.

Within UW-IT, there is a project to outline how the organization might adopt containers. The EWS team is the first to adopt and deploy an orchestrated CI/CD pipeline from code to a live production system for higher availability with less manual maintenance. The EWS team is paving the way to addressing and modernizing systems in the future.


About Enterprise Web Services (EWS)

The Enterprise Web Services team provides the University of Washington and its affiliates with innovative, secure, and accessible web solutions operating between a number of software applications, running through a variety of platforms and/or frameworks.

About Enterprise Information, Integration, and Analytics (EIIA)

The Enterprise Information, Integration & Analytics (EIIA) unit delivers institutional data for decision-making to UW academic and administrative units. EIIA is responsible for data integration, data design, and architecture, metadata management, data science and business intelligence. It manages data integrations, data warehouse, web services and business intelligence systems and solutions.


Press Release – Amber Walcker

EWS Manager – Paul Prestin

Tuition Dashboards on Public UW Website

On August 14, 2018, the Enterprise Information, Integration and Analytics (EIIA) Business Intelligence (BI) Team released the Office of Planning and Budgeting (OPB) Public Profile Tuition Dashboards for current and prospective undergraduate and graduate students! This work was completed in partnership with OPB.

It’s now easier than ever for potential and current undergraduates and graduates to see their University of Washington (UW) quarterly or annual education costs. It also provides UW analysts with an easy-to-use tool for tracking tuition changes over time.

The value we delivered supports the UW-IT Strategic Pillars:

  • Advance the Data-Driven Environment:
    • Delivered UW department coordinators and analysts a dashboard to see tuition changes over time.
    • Introduced new tools for helping UW make data-informed decisions.
    • Provided tools to help current and prospective UW students make choices about their UW education.
  • Create Capacity
    • Provided campus users with a public resource to help answer questions.
    • Centralized data into a single location for accuracy, consistency, and transparency

For more information, please email

Inflation Adjustments Available for Data Analysts

Answer these questions:

Do you…

  • present nominal dollar values over time?
  • want to add inflation-adjusted values in your analysis?

We have some exciting news! Query the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) to include inflation adjustment values in your analysis project.

Get It in the EDW

If you already have access to the EDW, find the CPI data stored in the sec.dimConsumerPriceIndex view in the FinancialSumMart Database.

See Examples:

See inflation adjustment examples in our research expenditure dashboards in UW Profiles:

  1. Overview of Research Total Expenditures
  2. Summary of Research Total Expenditures by Funding Entities

How It Works

Every month the EDW Team pulls consumer price index (CPI) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics giving you access to this data through EDW queries. We use CPI to adjust nominal expense data for inflation.

The Math Behind It All

For an annual (fiscal year) analysis:

  1. Annual Average: Adjust a nominal value for inflation by first taking the average of each of the CPI values for each month in the Fiscal Year.
  2. Inflation Adjustment: Divide the CPI average for the period the transaction occurred (e.g. 2010) by the CPI value for the current time (e.g. 2018).

EDW Access

If you don’t already have access to the EDW, then you can request access here. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to write us at

Inflation Adjustments Available in UW Profiles

In UW Profiles, under the Research category, run analysis on both inflation and non-inflation adjusted expenditure data.

UW Profiles Examples:

Using UW Profiles, you can click on the “Research Dashboards” tab (on the right) and see the dashboards.

  1. Overview of Research Total Expenditures
  2. Summary of Research Total Expenditures by Funding Entities

What does this mean?

Inflation means the price for goods and services are going up. “Inflation adjusted” is sometimes referred to as “real expenses.” “Non-inflation adjusted” is sometimes referred to as “nominal expenses.” So when you see “inflation adjusted” or “non-inflation adjusted” you know that either inflation has or has not been applied to the data.

The way inflation is applied to the data is by including Consumer Price Index (CPI) data. The CPI measures the change in prices of a predetermined “market basket” of goods and services over time.

Why is this important?

By looking at data over time that includes inflation, you are able to compare with accuracy. By not including inflation adjustments, the data skews making trends appear when they are not real.

Where does this data come from?

The expenditure data is sourced from multiple areas on campus which end up in the EDWPresentation database. The CPI data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Example – How CPI is calculated

For an annual (fiscal year) analysis:

  1. Annual Average: Adjust a nominal value for inflation by first taking the average of each of the CPI values for each month in the Fiscal Year.
  2. Inflation Adjustment: Divide the CPI average for the period the transaction occurred (e.g. 2010) by the CPI value for the current time (e.g. 2018).

Case Study: Student creates web application through Web Service Partnership


This paper provides background, alternatives, solutions, benefits and outcomes of the UW student project work of Zhaofeng Wu.

Using the Student Web Service (SWS) API connection supported by the Enterprise Web Services (EWS) team, Wu connected to UW Student system data, which contains Course and Prerequisite data. The Student Database (SDB) is managed by the Office of the University Registrar.

Wu used this data to create a tool called UW Course Central. UW Course Central provides a prerequisite visualization path necessary to take courses here at the UW. The primary audience for this tool are UW students.

Wu discovered data complexities when parsing course prerequisite data and identified alternatives. The result of those alternatives informed EWS and the registrar’s office of current and future opportunities to deliver a better UW student experience.


The Enterprise Web Service (EWS) team supports internal business usage as well as non-business usage such as innovative student work. Every quarter a handful of students request access to the publicly available academic course data through EWS.

The EWS team is in the Enterprise Information, Integration and Analytics (EIIA) unit within UW-IT’s Information Management division at the University of Washington (UW).

Zhaofeng Wu, a senior in the UW Computer Science and Linguistics program, requested access and built a tool called UW Course Central that focused on future path prerequisite information. The idea came from a website called Course Rating (found on GitHub but is no longer accessible) where it visualized UW course evaluation information. Seeing this website showed Wu the power of using data visualizations to benefit students.


Wu began his journey looking for a tool that could help him plan a prerequisite path. In his personal time, he researched what prerequisite tools existed. He was able to locate two:

  1. Course Sequencer Explorer
  2. MyPlan

Wu believed these tools were very useful, but did not meet his needs. He realized that a future course prerequisite path did not exist in any of these tools. Wu wanted to change that. He identified the following functionality and feature needs of a tool he would build:

  1. Search courses
  2. Visualize the course path
  3. Auto-update course prerequisite information
  4. Display course number, title, description, etc.
  5. Display future prerequisites (potential course path outcomes/pathways/possibilities)

He wanted students to have a tool with the ability to visualize and better plan their course path. He knew displaying prerequisite relationships would be tapping into something innovative.

“This was not a project given to me. I thought making such a tool would come in handy for the UW students.” – Zhaofeng Wu, UW student

Wu began the work winter 2016. He continued UW Course Central development over the next year as time permitted. He launched in November 2017.

The Solution and Details

Wu identified three options to access data:

Course Information Requirement:

Option A

Webpage HTML

Option BUW Course Catalog

Option C


Course and Section description and details available X X X
Ability to access in “real-time” X
Low maintenance X

Not choosing A or B: Webpage HTML or UW Course Catalog

The Webpage HTML and UW Course Catalog options lacked the majority of requirements necessary and added complexities. This made these options:

  • Troublesome: [reason] Webpage HTML is “display data” and the only way to gather that data is by “screen scraping,” which is generally considered difficult to support in the developer industry.
  • Error-prone: [reason] If webpage structure or HTML “display data” adds a word or removes a sentence, the entire “screen scrape” will develop errors, making it unsupportable for a developer.
  • Time consuming: the manual “screen scrape” of webpage HTML data adds technical debt.

Choosing option C: SWS API

Wu needed access to Course and Section (Time Schedule) type data/information such as course code, course name and course description. He knew this information was publically available on the UW’s website, so he did some more research. He identified that the Student Web Service (SWS) provided access to this information, but in order to access it, he would need to tap into it using an API Access Token.

Wu emailed EWS to request an API Access Token. This token then gave him access to the public resource course data he needed.

From details to decision, Wu made sure he chose the right data source giving him the most accurate information while minimizing technical debt. Because he would be the only one to maintain it, maintaining low technical debt was necessary.

Option C: Parsing data complexities

The UW course data is comprised of complex prerequisite information. As a student, Wu was challenged by the complexities of interpreting prerequisite data with clarity.

When Wu parses data for the prerequisite fields, he comes across errors. In order to mitigate the errors, he manually reviews the prerequisite data. Because of the manual review of prerequisite data, Wu recognized not all visual mapping is accurate. He understood UW Course Central may contain misrepresentations of prerequisite paths.

UW Course Central is merely a tool, but Wu does not recommend using this tool exclusively. He recommends a meeting with an academic advisor will provide the most accurate information.

As student registration approaches, he completes a data pull quarterly. He is unable to have the information automatically update due to the prerequisite manual data review.

The Outcomes

Many opportunities present themselves as we begin to understand the process behind a student experience.

In this specific use case, we can acknowledge the following:

    • Student Innovation: Students across campus are using internal services/systems to create technology innovations.
    • Prerequisite Mapping: Prerequisite mapping interest exists, which would allow students to explore institutional Course data differently.
    • Innovation Communication: There are opportunities to ask questions when technology requests occur so innovations do not go unnoticed.

Audiences such as students, instructors, UW-IT and campus administrators can benefit from hearing what student technology innovations are happening.

Faculty & staff partnership

If faculty and staff collaborate, student innovations might be more easily noticed. This could provide greater opportunities to share student innovations and successes and bring greater transparency between the University’s faculty and internal staff.

“It’s always fun to see existing investments bring powerful ideas to flourish through serendipitous reuse.” Paul Prestin, Technology Manager for EWS in Enterprise Information, Integration, & Analytics (EIIA).

The EWS team identified process action items to improve how they can better share student innovations:

  1. Partner with faculty on student projects.
  2. Communicate that EWS is a resource so instructors have the knowledge to share with students.
  3. Reach out, engage and schedule regular check-ins with faculty to discover what student innovations are taking place.
  4. Create specific case studies/articles on EWS and student partnership success and share them with a wider UW audience.

Communicating successes

When a student successfully completes a project or launches a tool that utilizes web services, EWS wants to understand:

  1. How they discovered web services?
  2. Whom did they work with?
  3. What challenges did they face?
  4. What was achieved?
  5. What could have made your experience better?

By asking these questions, EWS is able to improve its process and understand more clearly how students and instructors are using campus technology services.

EWS works with internal communications developing case studies and articles to highlight student work and other successes taking place. Then, EWS shares it with the larger UW technology community through UW-IT publications such as IT Connect News, Inside UW-IT, UW Insider and Insights.

“Students navigating their UW academic career need a tool to insure they are making smart decisions on the correct classes to take. UW Course Central can save students time and money and assist them with a faster and smoother path to graduation. Cheers to Mr. Wu and UW-IT for this important and meaningful collaboration!” – Helen B. Garrett, Ed.D., University Registrar and Chief Officer of Enrollment Information Services

Enhance the student experience

By having answers to the five questions above, this helps EWS provide better services to the student population, which enhances their student experience. In turn, this strengthens the relationships among EWS, faculty and staff.

Internal opportunities

By understanding the challenges faced and innovation behind prerequisites, there are many opportunities available to EWS, MyPlan, University Registrar and UW-IT Communications.


EWS receives limited user information when a request comes through for an API Access Token. There is a clear opportunity to improve information gathering from the beginning by collecting more information with an original request. EWS receive daily requests, so unique requests may be overlooked; furthermore, requests specifically from students are often processed and no follow up happens after. They often have a short lifespan in comparison to administrative applications.

“We’re looking to grow from experiences like Mr. Wu’s. APIs are an enabling data access tool allowing developers to quickly try out ideas and build innovative new functionality to support the University mission. We plan to build additional student engagement into our support and onboarding of student projects. Learning about the problems students are solving helps inform future developments in the Student Web Service API.” – Paul Prestin, Technology Manager for EWS in Enterprise Information, Integration, & Analytics (EIIA).

UW MyPlan

MyPlan currently offers prerequisite information but not in a visual “future path” way.

The Student Program team that manages MyPlan has some time scheduled for Mr. Wu to share his story with them.

“Kudos to Mr. Wu for his initiative and, most importantly, executing on it! Exposing prerequisites in an accessible way via MyPlan came up a few times in our team discussion. Due to limited resources, we work closely with our campus business partners in prioritizing our deliverables (for example, last year our focus was on Course Search, Program Exploration and Audit Personalization).” – Sridhar Komandur, UW-IT Student Program Software Architect & Data Scientist

University Registrar

Wu’s project had some prerequisite data challenges. He reached out to EWS about the data complexities, which initiated conversations between Matt Winslow, Senior Associate Registrar, and Paul Prestin to discuss the opportunities available for data improvements.

“Not only do projects like this create better visibility and visualizations of existing data, they also give us the opportunity to see where our data may have previously unknown issues. Because of Mr. Wu’s work, we are getting more accurate course listings in the course catalog.” – Matt Winslow, Senior Associate Registrar.

UW-IT Communications

Student projects are taking place within specific technology teams at the grassroots level. The UW-IT Communications team wants to share student technology innovations, experiences and highlight partnerships across the University that leverage technology services and resources provided by UW-IT to advance their work.

The UW-IT Communications team plans to meet quarterly with EIIA to share knowledge of what UW-IT teams are working on and highlight stories.

“We want to highlight how our partners across the University are leveraging technology to advance their work and to enhance resources and services for the entire UW community.” – Cindy Brown, UW-IT Director of Communications.

Interview: Pieter Visser shares how Neo4j helps power enterprise applications

On March 14, 2018, MarTech Advisor featured an interview with UW-IT’s very own Pieter Visser, Solutions Architect in the Enterprise Information, Integration and Analytics (EIIA) unit.

Pieter shares experiences and reasons for choosing Neo4j technology and how it created better impact through a single, integrated, enterprise metadata catalog empowering Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) and Business Intelligence (BI) Platform users.

You can find the full interview on MarTech Advisor’s Interview section here: