Timelogger app

Posted on 16 January 2013

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I’ve been using my online accounting software for a few years to log my time. The great thing about it is that the hours worked show up immediately in the project overview, next to calculated hours. The bad thing about it was that you’d have to find a computer, login and write it everytime you change doing something. So I found the timelogger app for iphone, as it is on my phone (and also works without internet) it’s a great way to log my hours, even on set or when I’m brushing my teeth at night.

The good

A lot. You can fill in clients, jobs and activities on the fly and export your log to CSV and setup a backup to Icloud (you’ll need the iphone app to import this backup again, there is no other way to access it). There is a nice overview screen which you can filter on activity or client so you can readout immediately how many hours you’ve spent for this job.

The bad

  • The free version only saves 60 days and then starts deleting the first entries. I found out the hard way, loosing 2 months of my timelogs!  This means you may want to buy the software or make a CSV dump at the end of every month.
  • The timer wheels are working pretty bad: if it’s not exactly on the date or hour you want to set it on it will enter the date/time (now) value. This really is annoying and should definitely be fixed!
  • It’s not connected to my accounting software. So I have to enter each client and job into both systems.
  • I also have to import the hours worked back into the accounting software. There is a challenge there to get this done. For now, I just keep the CSV exports for future reference.

Backup

You can use iCloud for daily automatic backup and even keep the old backups to restore them. I have not tested iCloud sync yet.

The strange thing here is that it keeps backups in both the phone’s backup folder but also in the general iCloud Documents and data folder.

Export

How to get the entries from timelogger to my project overviews? Well: the quick fix would be to just choose timelogger -> current entries -> options -> the job you want log and then write down the total timelogger gives you.

But as I said,  I also found that it is pretty easy to make mistakes, so it’s always good to check total hours worked per week. Also, you might want to make other statistics from the log and/or log for whole teams, so doing all this manually is just not good enough. This could be solved by exporting an CSV every month and import this somehow. This is what the CSV looks like:

Start Date & Time End Date & Time Elapsed Time Elapsed in Decimal Category
2012-11-16 08:40 2012-11-16 08:44 7:04 7.07 Meeting

There are a few problems here:

  • There is no automatic e-mail every month option in timelogger, so you’ll forget this pretty easily.
  • It’s not simple to group on dates as they use date/time fields.
  • My european system doesn’t recognize the dot in the decimal time, so it will not add up.

If I want this to work I would have to make a custom CSVtoTOTALS script. For now, I’ll just stick with the overview from timelogger.

Conclusion

It’s really nice but not good enough. It would be great to have a ‘what are you doing now’ field in the homescreen of the iphone, where you can just choose from your previous activities or type in a new one, after which an entry is created, coupled with date/time(now) and fed into the accounting system. Additionally you can add notes or – if this is required for the chosen activity – choose a job from the projects that are in your accounting software.

The advantages: you will not have to select times (just don’t forget to change your ‘status’ all the time: there also has to be an optional ‘Ah shoot, I forgot it, so this is the time I really stopped doing this’ field), you will not have to fill in jobs and you don’t have to select clients (As the jobs are already coupled with clients in the accounting software).

Why does it have to be an app? I like it if it works even if there is no internet connection available, so it will need to have some way of caching your entries until the phone can connect to internet again. My first guess is that an app is the only way to do that. But then I found this article about mobile HTML5 support and this about offline caching.

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Posted in: Iphone, Office