Running Dinner Planner

Special relations - definition


In a lot of practical Running Dinner cases, meetings between some Participants should be avoided, or perhaps promoted. For example, it is often desirable for spouses (more generally: people that live together) to move independently of each other and, if at all possible, not even meet a single time (unless they host a Course, in which case it is possible to require both Hosts to be present - see step 2). Conversely, it may be desirable - but not an absolute necessity - for some Participants to stick together when they move from Course to Course. 

For this reason, the Planner offers the concept of ‘Special Relations’ between Participants, with a default Special Relation of ‘housemate’. The user is free to define up to 5 Special Relations, although it is advised not to have more than 2. The Planner app will attempt to honour these Special Relations where possible by way of the penalty system (see the penalty section in the Planner screen): any meeting between Participants with a Special Relation will contribute to the overall penalty the seating arrangement (aka solution, aka configuration) receives. Note that this ‘penalty’ can in fact be negative. For example, if the penalty slider is set to the far left, the penalty associated with the Special Relation wil be negative, in which case the Planner’s optimisation routines will try to favour meetings between Participants with this Special Relation..

In this screen the user can define Special Relations, and assign in a qualitative way a penalty to meetings between two such people - be it negative (red) or positive (green). There are 3 ways of inputting this data:

  • by Special Relation
  • as CSV

The information banner

As with all screens, a context-dependent information banner is located at the top of the screen. It features a “back to previous screen” button on the left, and a button for context-dependent help on the right

Input methods

By Special Relation

This screen can be used to create a new Special Relation by pressing the Add ( Square Plus ) button. The Planner needs at least one Special Relation, namely that of housemate - though the name can be changed by the user. Note that this functionality is only used when, in step 8. Participants are assigned (or not) any Special Relations - failing that, the input given on this screen is not used.. The slider on this screen can be used to change the penalty given to seating arrangements (aka solutions, aka configurations) where Participants with a Special Relation meet - it can be either positive or negative (as designated by the color given to the Special Relation).


CSV - the interface

Arguably the easiest way of inputting Special Relatons into the system is by way of the MyPlanner section on the website. To make use of this, the user needs to create and login to an account on, and  copy-paste data from, for example, Excel into the web interface. See also the CSV tutorial on the Tutorials page. That data can subsequently be downloaded from MyPlanner with the click of the cloud ( Cloud Queue ) button. 

The format the data needs to have is that of a Comma-Separated-Value (CSV) list, and can be inspected in the CSV text field. One line should contain:



  • SpecialRelationNumber: the number of the Special Relation, starting with 1,
  • SpecialRelationDescription: unique description of the Special Relation,
  • Penalty: every 'multi-meet' between persons causes a seating-arrangement to receive

a 'penalty'. This number represents how much the penalty should increase when there are multi-meets between people having this Special Relation relative to the same multi-meet happening between people without any Special Relation. The value should lie between -100 (try and promote meetings between people with this special relation) and 100 (try to avoid meetings between people with this special relation).

  • Note 1: Not all Special Relations have to be listed
  • Note 2: Special Relations can appear in random order
  • Note 3: The maximum number of Special Relations is 5
  • Note 4: The first Special Relation is reserved for people associated with the same address
  • Note 5: A single line can only hold data on a single Special Relation

When loaded, the text field will contain the data currently available to the Planner. With the Copy ( Copy ) or Mail ( Envelope ) button, the entire content of the field, plus extra information such as the data format, can be made available outside the App.

CSV - downloading data from the cloud

In MyPlanner data can be stored for all the Steps involved in planning a Running Dinner. While, for each Step, the relevant data can be loaded on its own, the CSV functionality also allows for importing data for more than just 1 Step into the Planner. That is to say: upon pressing the cloud button ( Cloud Queue ), the App retrieves all the data from MyPlanner and allows the user to choose which data to load. Note that it is not enough to download, paste, or manually change the content of the textfield: it will only be made available to the Planner by pressing the Add ( Square Plus ) or Apply button. The App will then report how much of the data could be interpreted and was added to the system.