CourseMapper documentation

Welcome to the documentation for CourseMapper. Choose from the list of topics below.

Help Topics


The Who and the Why

CourseMapper is software designed for department faculty, curriculum committees, and academic advisors. It allows one to visualize requirements specified in Banner and to experiment (without affecting Banner) with requirements and curriculum flow. Further, the visual output (the map) from CourseMapper can be exported for inclusion on department webpages for viewing by students.

CourseMapper works at the level of an academic program or specialty where the requirements might be quite specific. For example, Mathematics with a Modeling Emphasis or Computer Engineering would be considered programs, but Mathematics and Engineering are too broad to be considered programs.

Examples of how CourseMapper is Useful

Suppose you are designing a very regimented engineering program. You need to ensure that your program satisfies all the requirements from Banner and the Calendar, but you also need to balance the course load across terms and years. Further, you need to know the optimal term to offer each course in your program. CourseMapper automatically keeps track of requirements from Banner and allows you to visually see and rearrange what courses are taken in what years.

Suppose you are a department like English with very few requirements listed in Banner and you value very general requirements since it allows students to pursue their individual interests. However, you notice that every year there is a group of students interested in Victorian Literature. Using CourseMapper, without affecting Banner or the Calendar in any way, you could create a suggested plan of study for these students, explicitly specifying the courses that would be interesting to these students and the optimal order in which they should be taken. CourseMapper will generate a chart that could be used both by students and advisors to help with registration and planning.

Suppose you are a department chair and wish to visualize how your prerequisites flow, where the key courses in your department are, and where the orphaned courses are. With CourseMapper, you can load all courses from a department, and CourseMapper will produce a flowchart including every one of your courses with arrows representing any prerequisites specified in Banner.

Anatomy of a Map

Above you see a very simplified version of a potential map for a Math and Stats program. At its core, the map has one meta component, the program, and three main components: year designations, required courses, and electives. Keep in mind that these designations do not directly correspond to the official university policies and graduation requirements of similar names specified in the Calendar. For example, saying a course is Required in CourseMapper does not mean it is an absolute requirement for graduation.
The Program

Outlining a program is one of the main uses of CourseMapper. A program should be thought of as a potential path to graduation. That is to say, a program does not attempt to illustrate every possible way to graduate with a specific degree (that is the Calendar's job), but instead offers concrete suggestions about what to take and when to take it (perhaps with some choices) in order to finish a degree in four years.

Programs can be more specific than anything on the Calendar and as such can be thought of as what an ideal student with a particular interest actually does while at university. If your department has many, many electives to choose from, you might create several versions of a program, each with different emphasis. Following one of these programs exactly would not be a requirement for graduation, but seeing such a program would help to visualize possible paths to graduation.

Year Designations

The output map from CourseMapper is divided into four columns, one for each year, representing the suggested year in which a course should be taken. These years need not correspond to (but should not contradict) the Calendar. For example, in the map above, MATH 200 is suggested to be taken in second year (since it requires two terms of prerequisites), even though second year standing is not a requirement for MATH 200.

Required Courses

A course being Required in the context of CourseMapper means that it shows up in your map with a black outline. Being required in CourseMapper is distinct from being a university requirement in the Calendar. You should think of a required course in your program in the following way: "A course is required if there are no other reasonable alternatives to graduate via this particular path."


Electives are courses that show on your map grouped by gray boxes. These indicate where there is choice in your program. Electives in CourseMapper need not be called Electives in official graduation requirements as specified by the Calendar (or even have the word elective associated with them on your output map). Instead, in the context of CourseMapper, think of Electives as a technical term meaning there is a choice to be made in your program.

Basic Usage

CourseMapper allows you to create charts showing how an ideal student might progress through a particular major (possibly with specialty). These charts can be used for planning purposes, or they can be embedded on your department webpage to help students navigate their degree program. Charts produced by CourseMapper are meant to give perspective on the flow of a program, but are not meant to include every detail of a particular major or in any way replace the Calendar as the source for university requirements.

Structure of CourseMapper

The CourseMapper application has two main components: Choose courses and Preview map. Choose courses allows you to load and inspect (look at pre-reqs, course descriptions, historical offerings) any courses from the Banner database and then select the courses you wish to include in your program. Preview map is where you see a flow-chart representation of your program with arrows representing prerequisites. In Preview map, you can also adjust which arrows display, make co-requisites, and add extra data about electives (like links to detailed webpage descriptions). Both components of CourseMapper can be accessed via the black menubar at the top of the CourseMapper page.

Changing views as well as loading and saving is done via the black navigation bar at the top of the CourseMapper page. This bar should be used to change between Welcome, Choose courses, and Preview map views instead of the browsers forward and back buttons.

Creating a Chart

To create a chart, go to the Welcome page, enter the title of your program and click Next to proceed to the Choose courses page. If there is already an old course map loaded, click the New button in the top right of the black menubar to clear the current chart and start afresh. On the graphic below, the user has entered Math and Stats as the program title.

In the Subjects to Add textbox, enter subjects or courses from which you wish to choose. You can include multiple subjects or classes by specifying them in a comma-separated list. Next, click Show. If you enter a course subject, for example MATH, then all courses from that subject will be shown. If you enter a full course designation, for example MATH 100, then only that particular course will be displayed. (This means, if you already know exactly which courses belong in your program, you can just enter them in a comma-separated list and only those courses will be loaded). Note: courses loaded here come directly from a clone of the Banner database, so courses that do not exist in Banner cannot be loaded.

After you hit Show, you will see gray courses displayed by year of study in the year chart. Gray courses will not show up in your final graph. Instead, you must mark courses that you want to include as Required.

Marking courses as Required can be done in two ways: double click a course or click a course once and then in the Course Info tab on the right, click the Required button. A course can be made not required similarly, by double clicking or clicking the Not Included button after selecting the course.

After you have selected all the courses required for your program, click the Preview map in the top menubar to be taken to the graphical version of your program.

If you're happy with your program chart, you can click Download map button in the top menubar, or you can click Choose courses to return to editing the courses in your chart.

Course charts are saved in the SVG file format. The SVG file format can be displayed by most web browsers and can be loaded back in CourseMapper for future editing. However, for maximum portability, you can export your SVG to an image or PDF. See Exporting to Other Graphical Formats.

Exporting to Other Graphical Formats

When you save a chart from CourseMapper, it is saved as an SVG image. Embedded in this image is all the data needed to reload and continue working on/editing your chart with CourseMapper in the future. However, you may wish to convert your chart to different file formats for putting on your webpage or distributing.

To convert your chart you will need the free program Inkscape. You can download Inkscape for Mac, Windows, and Linux at

Exporting to Image (PNG) using Inkscape

PNG is a static image format suitable to include on your department webpage. To export your chart to a PNG, first open it in Inkscape. Then, choose File > Export Bitmap from the Inkscape menu.

When the export dialog appears, click Browse to choose a file name for saving the converted file. Make sure you include .png at the end of your filename. Finally, click the Export button, and your image will be saved.

Exporting to PDF using Inkscape

To export your chart to a PDF, open the SVG version in Inkscape, and then select File > Save As from the Inkscape menu. Then, select Portable Document Format from the list of Save-As types in the Save As dialog.

Click Save and when presented with the PDF export options, click OK. Your PDF will now be saved.

Adjusting Your Chart

Outlined are many of the ways you may wish to fine-tune your chart. (Changes made to your chart do not change the data in Banner).

Changing the Year of a Course

By default, courses are sorted into years by their course number. If you wish to change the year in which a course should be taken, go to the Choose courses page and drag and drop that course to the appropriate year in the year chart.

Hiding or Creating Arrows

By default, all arrows that appear are given by prerequisites specified in Banner. You may want to add or hide arrows to clarify the flow of your program. To hide an arrow, go to the Preview map page and click the two courses connected by the arrow you wish to hide. Then click the Remove Arrow button.

To create an arrow, from the Preview map page, select the two courses you wish to create an arrow between from tail to head. That is, if you want an arrow from course A to course B, select course A first, and then select course B. Then, click the Create Arrow button. If you mistakenly create an arrow in the wrong direction, click Remove Arrow, deselect the two courses (by clicking on each of them once more), select them in the opposite order, and click Create Arrow again.

Creating a Co-requisite

By default, all requirements are shown as prerequisites, but your program may have co-requisites. To create a co-requisite, select the two courses you wish to be co-requisite (there must already be an arrow between them or you must create an arrow between them for the next step) and click the Make Corequisite button. The arrow will now be headless and the two courses should be shown in the same column. To return a course to a pre-requisite, select the two co-requisite courses and click Make Prerequisite.

Checking Prereqs

CourseMapper has knowledge of all the prerequisites specified in Banner and gives you two different ways to view this information. It should be noted that CourseMapper interprets every requirement in Banner as a pre-requisite. Co-requisites must be specified manually as explained in the Adjusting section.

Individual Course's Prerequisites

To view an individual course's prerequisites, while on the Choose courses page, click the Course Info tab on the right side. Under the words Pre-requisites will be a list of all the course's prerequisites. Prerequisites are either in a boxed group, which means any of the courses in the box may fulfill the requirement, or they are separated by the word and to signify that a course or block of courses is required. Courses you have already marked as required or elective in your chart are shown as required or elective in the prerequisites list. Courses that are half-grayed out are courses specified as prerequisites in Banner but are no longer offered.

To ensure all prerequisites are included in your chart, either add the course and make it required via the Subjects to Add textbox, or click the course in the Pre-requisites list to have it automatically added. The graphic below shows that our program is missing one of the requirements for MATH342.

Checking a Program's Unmet Prerequisites

Because verifying that every course's prerequisites are satisfied one at a time is tedious, CourseMapper provides a way to look at all unmet prerequisites. From the Choose courses page, clicking the Prerequisites tab on the right-hand side will give a (possibly empty) list of unmet prerequisites. If the list is empty, all prerequisites for all required courses in your program are met. Otherwise, as is the case in the image below, you will see a list of prerequisites that need to be satisfied. Once they are satisfied, they will disappear from this list.

The unmet prerequisites list will dynamically update as you change your program. For example, if we remove MATH100 and MATH101 from our program, we see they appear in the unmet prerequisites list (with MATH101 appearing twice because it is required by both MATH200 and MATH201).

Adding Electives

CourseMapper allows you to add two different types of electives: an electives descriptor and an electives block. An electives descriptor will appear as a gray box displaying the text you specify on your graphical chart. An elective block contains an explicit list of options for courses that satisfy that elective.

Note that Electives is just the word we use to describe an element of your graph where a student has a choice. It may be a requirement of your program, and you need not have the word "elective" appear on your graphical chart.

Elective Descriptors

To create an elective descriptor, from the Choose courses page, click the Electives tab to the right. Then, click on Create New Electives Block. A gray electives box will show up on your year chart.

You may drag and drop this electives box to the desired year and edit the title and required number of units to suit your needs.

Elective descriptors can also include extra descriptions and links to further information. To add these data, go to the Preview map page and click your elective descriptor. On the right you will be presented with a place to enter a description and a link to more information.

Elective Block

The difference between an elective descriptor and an elective block is that an elective block has an explicit list of courses from which to choose. To create an elective block, the procedure is the same: From the Choose courses page, click the Electives tab to the right and click Create New Electives Block.

In the same way as with elective descriptors, you can edit the text and required units of your elective block.

To populate your elective block with courses, drag and drop them into the elective block.

Your electives block will show up in your graphical chart as a gray box enclosing every course you specified. It should be noted that the prerequisites of the courses specified in your elective block will be included in the Prerequisites tab in CourseMapper and prerequisite arrows will appear in the graphical chart. If your course options have complicated prerequisites between each other, CourseMapper will attempt to structure them, but this may result in a strange looking chart.

Deleting Electives

To delete an elective descriptor or an elective block, from the Choose courses page, click the Electives tab and click the trash icon in the upper-right of the elective you wish to delete.


Co-ops are treated differently by CourseMapper than a regular course, since co-op requirement normally span several years and offer great flexibility as to the term in which they are taken. To create a co-op, from the Choose courses page, click the Co-ops tab to the right and then click Create New Co-op

Your co-op will not show up in the list of courses on the Choose courses page, but it will show up in the graphical version of your chart. After creating a co-op, you should specify its label (description), the year-span you wish it to show up for, and a link to more information about that co-op and its requirements.

When you click Preview you will now see a co-op Banner spanning the years you specified.