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Logging tool for Developer Activity

Like many developers, I keep my own records of my developer activity. These are in addition to whatever documentaiton my company requires to be kept, because it's easier to focus if you have your own records.

At the moment, my recording is split across multiple applications, with little formal structure.

General work log, notes to self, observations, etc

To-do list
Forthcoming milestone dates

Working hours, time-tracking

Somebody must have solved this problem before, however because my spec's pretty vague at this point it's unlikely it will do exactly what I want. Has anybody had experience with any programmers utilities which can tie all of this together. Ideally, it could run inside MS Outlook.

Alex Ferrier
Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Over at, Rik wrote something called TaskTracker.

Its super simple, but nice.  Its free too, (i think)...

Michael H. Pryor
Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Perhaps I'm a complete Luddite, but I just use a text file for this kind of thing.  Free-form, can jot notes to self, easy to search, easy to copy, can be used on any platform, over a slow dialup link.  Text editors are universal, and plain ASCII is (pretty close to) universal.

I'll typically keep two files, one for notes, the other for tasks.  Allows me to easily move tasks from day to day, prioritize, show a history (by simply marking them rather than deleting them).

If you wanted to get fancy, most editors have enough of a macro language that you can assign something like "insert time/date stamp" to a key sequence.  Tasks per day is usually enough granularity for me.

James Montebello
Tuesday, January 8, 2002

> If you wanted to get fancy, most editors have enough of a macro language that you can assign something like "insert time/date stamp" to a key sequence.

If your editor is notepad.exe, and the following:


are the 1st letters in the text file, then notepad will append a date/time stamp at the bottom of the file whenever you open it.

So, I use a desktop short-cut to a text-file which has ".LOG" on its first line.

Christopher Wells
Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Isn't that weird?

I mean, notepad is the ultimate in "no features", then it's got that one feature, sticking out like a big zit on the homecoming queen's nose on prom night.

Joel Spolsky
Tuesday, January 8, 2002

That's wacky.  Only you squishers would know that weird .LOG trick.

Michael H. Pryor
Wednesday, January 9, 2002

It uses Java, so take care not to bump your computer.

Roger Hobson
Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Bonsai. from Natara software ( I've been quite taken with the idea of storing all sorts of notes (client contacts, project progress, todo lists) hierarchically, and it syncs nicely with Palms (which is handy when you're travelling, in meetings, etc and need to make short notes or read what's been going on).

Thoroughly recommended.

Tom Hume
Friday, January 11, 2002

But the .LOG trick was there for quite some time if am not mistaken.

Sunday, January 13, 2002

I think .LOG has been in notepad since Windows 1.0. That's right, 1.0. Before youze all were born.

Joel Spolsky
Monday, January 14, 2002

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