Introducing UCFormal

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of Castle,

It is my pleasure to announce the launch of UCFormal – our new formal management software that I have developed for the JCR this summer. UCFormal is a major improvement to our previous system; I hope you enjoy it 😉


This is the tab you’ll be looking forward to most. Featuring a state-of-the-art live status system to show formals as they become available, and a live stream of the people signing up, it greatly improves your experience when making a booking for one of Durham’s most historic regular events. You’ll immediately see if you made the Diners list or are still on the Reserves list. A simple image-based, easy-to-read maths CAPTCHA like 5 x 8 = ? is required to stop the previous bots built by other students to auto-signup.



UCFormal lets you save a profile for yourself, where you can easily select your dietary requirements and specify any custom needs you may have. Your requirements are not publicly shown to others, protecting your privacy. You can also save your Liver In/Liver Out status so you don’t have to specify it each time – all of this was not possible before. This process means everyone is treated fairly, and you do not lose seconds if your name is long, or you have dietary requirements to enter.

The Account tab also has some cool statistics about your usage and spending, and lets you control UCFormal notifications, such as a new e-mail notification the system sends when you successfully sign up, or get a message, or invoice.

Security is also very strong, featuring industry-standard cryptography techniques to protect your data and passwords.


This tab elegantly shows you what formals are coming up. It gives details on the date, prices, menu, spaces and signup times for all formals. It also gives you a link to your digital ticket once the signup is complete (“finalised” in UCFormal-speak).


You can now easily see your invoices and spending on UCFormal, and you geta unique 10-digit reference to use when making a bank transfer to the JCR – details of which are provided on the website in an easy-to-view manner. You get invoices e-mailed to you and reminders as well for those that don’t like to pay on time!


A cool new feature – UCFormal brings a dedicated live chat to the JCR where you can chat with other students and the services manager about anything related to signup or formals in general.

A messaging system also exists, where you easily compose a new message to @admins or other students about any questions you have. You’ll get e-mail notifications about new messages you receive too. Messaging also features read-receipts, and the ability to archive messages, and delete them. You’ll get messages and e-mails for important service announcements automatically. You can turn off e-mail notifications for most communications, except important ones like reminders about an unpaid bill. You’ll hopefully find e-mails useful – for example, telling you that you got onto a formal and the delivery of your mandatory digital ticket that is now required.


As promised, this tab gives you insight into some fun stats! You can see the biggest spenders, the biggest inviters, who’s most in love with going to formals, how long people spend on the app, and the total time everyone has spent combined! Please note – you may anonymise yourself if you find you have appeared in the Top 4 on The List – just go the account tab and turn off Participate in The List. UCFormal is very conscious of your privacy.


Hopefully self-explanatory. If you ever do need help, just message me or one of the admins through UCFormal Messaging and we’ll get back to you ASAP! For help during signup, just use the chat and someone will reach out to you.


Other new technology
UCFormal brings its own ticketing system to the party – you’ll get a PDF to show to security staff when you turn up at the Great Hall. You can check out a demo ticket here. These are cryptographically secure items, whereby a scannable QR and datamatrix code let the security team quickly validate your attendance and your guests. This is a big time saver, meaning people now no longer have to queue at the doors of the Great Hall and can just get seated as soon as they are scanned. You can keep your ticket on your smartphone or you can print it off. Please note they cannot be transferred, photocopied or forged as they are matched to you directly on secure UCFormal servers and databases in London.


Custom Sessions
The application is no longer hosted on Durham servers – you can register with any e-mail you like and keep yourself logged in forever,well, technically 1,000,000 days on the system 😉


The whole app now sends relevant e-mails to you for a variety of different events, meaning you don’t have to always check a website for information.


Just like on major social networks, you can choose a username on UCFormal (anything you like if it’s available) and it doesn’t have to be your CIS username.



  1. HTTPS encryption
  2. Blowfish-based cryptography and secure hashing of passwords
  3. Cryptographically-hard to forge tickets
  4. Cryptographically-hard password reset links
  5. Automatic bot detection algorithms and temporary banning