Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Painless Software Schedules - Software Suggestions

I have recently been implementing Joel's Excel spreadsheet idea for software project scheduling as presented at:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000245.html

I got the spread sheet working and it is OK for now.  However, as a typical programmer, my first instinct is to start thinking about how much better this system would be in a software product designed for the task.  My next thought as a (lazy) programmer was, "Someone must have already made such a beast."

So I have gone Googling, Hotfile.com(ing), etc., etc. and can't seem to find anything that would accomplish the same thing with a bit more slickness.  My question is: can anyone point me to some good pieces of software to do this?

Now, I know that there are a LOT of project management and time tracking packages out there but for the most part they are overly complicated, crazy expensive, and generally don't use the same simple approach that Joel outlines in his article.

My wish list would include:

- Allows you to set up tasks and sub tasks, perhaps in a tree view or something like that and set the Priority, Orig Est, Curr Est, Elapsed, Remaining
- Provides easy ways to see totals by project, features or tasks
- Provides a way to actually track the time (a stop-watch sort of thing) on a feature.  That is, I say "OK, now I'm working on the spell checker - GO!"  Then I can press stop or pause as necessary.
- Provides a log of the stop-watch thing so that I can look back over my day and see where I spent my time.

Sooooo, any ideas would be great.  But, please only provide suggestions if they really do follow Joel's simple model without doing too much more than my ideas above.  I find that if a piece of software is too complex for a task I will stop using it because it just becomes another time waster.

If we can't come up with anything close, perhaps some of you folks want to join me in making an open-source, free, "just-for-the-love-of-Joel" type thing :)

- Brett

Brett Kapilik
Tuesday, March 05, 2002

I can not help you locate a tool that does what you want, but I sure can help build it. Let me know if you go ahead with constructing one. I'll help !!

James Ladd
Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Go to

http://www.rik.org

and look around for TaskTracker (I think that's the title). It does most of what you asked for, and it's free for the download.

-Chris

Chris Tavares
Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Quick update - he's got a new version out, and switched to shareware. Still, $25 is pretty cheap.

Chris Tavares
Wednesday, March 06, 2002

I use it too. It works fine.

Philippe Back
Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Thanks for the suggestion.  I downloaded it and it is pretty close to what I am looking for.  Though I may still kick around the idea of making my own for the next while.  Thanks for your help.

- Brett

Brett Kapilik
Wednesday, March 06, 2002

And would you look at this:

http://www.rik.org/articles/fog0000000006.htm

Mark W
Wednesday, March 06, 2002

I also use the Allnetic Working Time Tracker (freeware) to keep track of the time I actually spend doing project work:

http://www.allnetic.com/

I used to estimate at the end of the day how long I had spent doing what. When I started doing this, I found out my numbers were all wrong. Something I thought took "five minutes" took 20, and I would round up something that took 45 minutes to an hour.

I think between these two products I have all the project management tools I need... too bad the corporation I work insists on using MS Project for everything - I've learned not to trust MS Project.

Mark W
Wednesday, March 06, 2002

I've tried using (hand written) time tracking logs in the past, but I'm too lazy to always update my log. I just had an idea for an automatic time tracker. It would run in the background and log on much time each running application spends in the focused, foreground mode. For example, if Outlook.exe is in the foreground for 40 minutes each day, you can probably guess that you are spending about 40 minutes reading email  each day. If Msdev.exe is in the foreground for 12 hours each day (including the weekends), then maybe you should talk to your boss about the unrealistic schedules demands. ;-)

At the end of the day, the auto-time tracker can show you a graph of the foreground apps over time. You can then choose to add more descriptive labels, such as "Word.exe: editing design doc" or "Excel.exe: updating product schedule." As a default hint, the auto time tracker could remember the foreground window title, such as "Microsoft Excel - Product Schedule.xls"

The auto time tracker might need a screensaver-type mode. If you are not typing or using the mouse for N minutes, then maybe you have gone to lunch. The tracker should stop counting then.

I have not used any time tracker programs, so maybe they already do this. I just looked at the Allnetics tracker and it looks more complicated than I need. I don't bill clients for my time, but I might like to how much time I waste on email or Slashdot.

Banana Fred
Wednesday, March 06, 2002

There are programs that do that. I can't reccomend any of them, but here's a breif list:

http://www.activityrecorder.com/

http://download.cnet.com/downloads/0-10023-100-4575109.html?tag=st.dl.10001-103-1.lst-7-2.4575109

http://www.aklabs.com/en/screenshots.php

http://www.alphalink.com.au/~sergeb/Canary.htm

Mark W
Wednesday, March 06, 2002

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home