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TrackIT: Professional Time Recording On Nokia Smartphones Print E-mail
Written by Richard Bloor   
Thursday, 19 May 2005
For the mobile professional keeping an accurate record of time can be a challenge. TrackIT from Corisoft promises to make it easy to keep track of multiple projects on the go. We take a look at what this package offers for Series 60 and Series 80 devices.

Accurate recording of time can be a challenge. It is not uncommon for today's professional to be working on multiple projects or for multiple clients, often in many locations. In this environment time recording can be a hit-and-miss affair.

French developer Corisoft may have the solution, in its TrackIT time recording application. Company principal and chief developer Eric Sebban should understand the requirements being a IT consultant and project manager himself.

TrackIT comes in two flavors, Series 60 and Series 80. Both applications offer the same basic features but the Series 80 version offers some expanded functionality.

TrackIT for Series 60

TrackIT for Series 60 records time under "Time and Cost" tasks which are grouped by Activities. Each Activity takes a name and no further details. An Activity pane lists all activities along with each one's time and billing values.

Below the Activity each "Time and Cost" task is defined by an icon, from a selection of over 20, given a name, an hourly rate and initial workload.

As entering activities and tasks on a phone keypad can be somewhat laborious TrackIT has a handy duplicate feature. When an Activity is duplicated all the tasks associated with it are also duplicated. Duplication clears any recorded time but retains all other details. Item details are modified with menu command Edit. There are two other edit options, Time Spent, which allows manual adjustments to the recorded time and Remaining Time, which allows the time left on a task to be recorded.

The remaining time record is manual. TrackIT does not calculate a remaining time based on the initial workload minus actual time spend.

Once a structure of activities and tasks has been created time is recorded simply by selecting the required task and clicking the centre jogpad button. The fact that the task is being timed is indicated with a timer icon. The timer icon is also displayed against the Activity the task belongs to. When a timed event finished the timer is stopped either by clicking on the timed task or by starting the timer on a new task.

It is worth noting that TrackIT provides icons, to the left of the task, to indicate its status. It shows a task has not been started with parallel bars, that it is in progress with a progress bar (where blue means progress is under time budget and red means over) or that is has been completed with a tick.

Each timed event updates a time log and creates a history record. The time log shows a summary of the time recorded each day for the task, while the history record shows the individual time periods recorded.

As time is recorded counters on the Activity and Task are updated. The billed value is also updated but interestingly this is done differently on the Activity and Time and Cost task screens. Against an Activity the cost is the actual time multiplied by the billing rate, while on the Time and Cost record it is only the billed value for whole hours worked.

At the end of a day, week or month it will be necessary to transfer the time recorded in TrackIT to another billing or timesheet system. Obviously it is possible to simply copy the details from TrackIT but TrackIT also provides a report option through a Send function. This function creates three text files showing Activity, Log and History details which are replications of the Time and Cost, Log and History panes. These reports can be sent via any of the devices available communications or messaging options. The activity report is most likely to be used, as it shows a summary of time worked and the associated cost. One slight deficiently in the reporting is that it reports on only one Activity at a time, requiring multiple "sends" to get a complete record of all Activities.

Once time has been exported the Duplicate function can be used to create a set of zeroed Activities and Tasks for the next periods reporting.

TrackIT for Series 80

The Series 80 version of TrackIT provides the same basic capabilities as the Series 60 version. The Activity, Task, Log and History details are almost identical.

TrackIT for Series 80 intelligently takes advantage of the additional screen space on the Series 80 to display both the Activity and Task details on one screen. The right hand pane also offers the other views of time log and history as well as a additional feature called Action Plan.

One difference with the core functionality is that while the Series 80 version shows the actively timed task, it does not show a timer icon on the Activity. Also the list views does not include a time and billed cost summary, this can only be seen for each task in its Time log view.

In Series 80 tasks do not have icons but gain an ID, that controls their display order. As with the Series 60 version the hours remaining for a task are not automatically updated by TrackIT.

An Action Plan option is the additional feature in the Series 80 version. This allows individual actions for a task to be defined and tracked, but only to the level of incomplete/complete. Again complete tasks are marked with a tick.

The Send feature provides the same Task, Log and History text files with the addition of an Action Plan export. Again Send only provides reports on one activity at a time.

While the Series 60 version of TrackIT works without any issues the Series 80 version does have a couple of minor faults. Sometime when switching between Activities the displayed list of Tasks is not updated. It also sometime loses track of which list the cursor key actions are intended for . As a result it will not move between the visible items, at least not until all the items in the non-visible list the cursor commands are being sent to has been traversed. Cycling through the right hand pane views fixed both these problems.

Time recording can be a very prescriptive activity and finding a tool that fits to a particular standard for time recording can be hard. TrackIT takes a simple, yet effective, approach to recording time and should be adaptable enough to use in conjunction with almost any time recording standards. While the Series 80 version has some useful additional features it is the Series 60 version which does the best job. It is both easy to use and has a well designed at-a-glance interface, providing all the basic time and cost information. The Series 80 version does its job but the interface is not as well thought out and the list navigation fault can be frustrating, none the less it accurately records time. SymbianOne would however recommend either version of TrackIT as useful additions to any professionals Nokia Smartphone.

TrackIT was successfully run on a Nokia 3650, Nokia 6600 and Sendo X. On a Sendo X there were some minor problems with the user interface display, mainly with the select highlighting, however the functionality worked correctly.

It was also run on a Nokia 9500 and Nokia 9210 Communicator.

TrackIT for either Series 60 or Series 80 (including the 9200 and latest 9300 and Corisoft or Handango. The software comes with a trial version which limits the number of activities and tasks that can be added.



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