Tsheets is powerful and robust and delivers the basics that I need. Coda.io Timesheet Template, powerful but has bugs. I recommend Tsheets.
At the end of my previous post on Free online time sheet programme Toggl (rubbish) and Tsheets (good) with the title indicating my views. I had spent about 4 days using Toggl and when I finally exported information it was trash. I had had a quick play with Tsheets but had not really tested it. So for the last week or so I have been using it. Making up tasks, a mixture of work and other activities like walking the dog just to see how I found using the programme.
It has an app and an online service that you link to with your browser.I’ve discussed that part before, this post I want to talk about the usability of it. You have one free user account. With it you get 2 features, one the “employee” who can use the app & book time and 2/ the “administrator” who can approve and also make changes to the time.
My objective, at the end of the exercise, is to have time-sheet data collected that I can invoice against. All I’m looking for is a time log against activities. This I can then use with an hourly rate to do my billing. Anything more is a bonus.
The Tsheet App
So, the app I downloaded on Google Store. It was easy to install. Below are 6 screenshots of my mobile phone.
The top image, left hand side is the one that you use the most. It took me a while to get used to switching my tasks and selecting the next activity I wanted to work on.
The app is good. It allows you to create another project or sub-task extremely easily in the App. Also adding notes is useful too to define what you are working on. I did not find it too intrusive and it is a pleasure to use. I did not notice any particular drain on my battery having it open a lot of the time.
Also no “shouty shouty” adds or pop ups. Very gentlemanly. Let the product speak for itself. (Which I find a bit in your face from the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress (although not surprising really for an SEO) & Grammarly which I will shortly be uninstalling (Free version buggy with wordpress)
An interesting feature is it sends you an email in the morning suggesting you log in ( at 8.00am) and out (5.00pm) :
This is your friendly 5:00pm clock out reminder. If you’re no longer working, go to xxxxxxxxx.tsheets.com to clock out.…”
Not too in your face and helpful. I think it only does it if you haven’t logged in/out at the appropriate times. I have not gone looking for where the start/end times are set up but I’m sure they are not too hard to find (maybe to do with scheduled times (that I am not using)).
The Desktop Browser Programme
When logging in to the browser, I think I am in the “Administrator” mode, as it has permissions on the account and also looks as if it has overviews on other accounts (if they existed).
The top interface looks similar with the “My Time Card” which is reading what the app is reading. It tells who is on-line (clocking time) and also has a map. Since the only info I gave to the map was “Timezone” it has zoomed in on New Zealand. I may explore the map feature later when walking the dog.
The next useful part is the Time Entries. There are 3 tabs, Timesheet List, Manual Time Card, Time slider.
In the first, you can edit an entry to adjust times. I think I also tested adjusting times on the App and that worked too. So great for when you forgot to logon/off at a specific time. You can retrospectively adjust. I’m sure there will be further controls on this for big organizations but on the single version easy.
The Basic time weekly timesheet is also good, just tracking the essentials. You wouldn’t need to use the app. The app does give you richer information though.
The time slider is more of a comparative tool for a number of employees and possibly for scheduling shifts. No use to me but an interesting feature.
I did try to create an invoice but I think the payroll and employee rates and overtime info are all paid features or add-ons. Fair enough.
This gives the overview, on a specific time period say Weekly or a specific time range with hours. Then you can download a CSV. So this is done by Employee, so total time for the week. This exports to a CSV.
Exactly what I need. Times against projects and activities. From this I can make my own invoices.
But wait, there’s more…..
Overall project report so you can see, for a specific duration, which projects/activities you’ve been working on.
So you can just push out a timesheet based on a specific project. The Pie chart was interesting…
Hovering on a portion of the pie chart it shows you the activity/project. And if it’s a “parent” project with “children” then clicking on it…
Takes you to the “Child” activities, and clicking on one of those…
Gives you specific times and other data about that activity. And you can just export that to a CSV. Cool.
But wait, there’s more…
I found where you can schedule time for “employees” against an activity/project..
So a cool tool that more than meets my current requirements, and just on 5.00pm I’ve got an email reminder to clock out. Time to walk the dog shortly.
Coda.io Time sheet Template
I started to have a play with this by saving a copy to my Docs. The concept is great, the structure is great.
The front end is helpful and tells you the process
Start/ Lunch/Stop button & Add another row for more activities and also having notes too. Very logical and a simple interface. I like it.
There is a page with weekly timesheet which can be posted off, good.
Some stats and charts. This is helpful to explore what you have been working on, a good idea. And I like visual. I’m sure there are some filters there somewhere for “drilling down” into the data.
An interface for setting up who you will email timesheet to. Simple and clean.
A historic table/calendar showing what you have done. This is good for filtering too.
Some basic automation so that it sets itself up for the next day, ready to go.
And here we get to the rub!!!
When I opened this up it was about 11am on Monday 10th Dec 2018. But the Date on the Today panel was for Sunday 9th Dec 2018. So the timesheet is structured around time in California, USA.
I had several tries at this, and could see their work around using a pull down tab at the bottom of the today page to allow for a “Timezone”. Based in USA, +/- 3 hours I think between the two coasts , so this can work within a curtain “Time Zone band “.
When I looked into this further:
the Now() formula is based on US Pacific time zone. See image below. So I would need to develop a more complex formula to be able to adjust the Today() function to be correct in NZ in relation to the Now() function that is running on US Pacific time zone.
So I stand by what I said in my opening statement, “Coda.io Time-sheet Template, powerful but has bugs.”
The appeal for Coda.io is it is spreadsheety and intelligent but you do not need to be a fully blown programmer to get some leverage out of it. This particular instance needs a lot more thinking to make it more “worldly” (I was going to say “Universal” but that was not appropriate).
I really like Tsheets. It does what it says on the box. I read a comment that they thought the interface was a bit dated. I have no problems with that. It is a tool fit for purpose and does it well. It is also quite logical and easy to navigate through.
I really like the mobile app. It is also easy to use. The email reminders are unobtrusive too.
At work I’d set an alarm (usually vibrate only) for about 15 minutes before when I would wish to leave. I think putting my own alarms on my mobile would help remind me to “Switch” to another activity if timing was important. As it is it is a habit I’d need to cultivate to switch between activities also so I could more accurately capture information about specific tasks I was doing.
I think the app can gather some quite rich information on how I use my time if I use it more frequently.
Coda.io Time-sheet Template
There is some smart stuff happening, but its not quite there. I think the time/date function Now() needs some smart coding to make it more versatile. But I’m impressed with the structure and layout of it. It would take some time to build an app that would do these functions. I’m actually thinking of something like App Inventor or something similar. I had used it to try and build a survey app. I think Coda.io is trying to be an advanced spreadsheet with automation functions, more open and accessible than programming. I want to explore some other Templates that they have to see if I can find a practical use for them. Project management one next I think.
Combining Tsheets with Coda.io
Creating a Knime process from Tsheets time data where the data can be modified into displaying the information like the Coda Timesheet Graphs and ordering it in a specific manner for invoicing. Or maybe I just import from Google Sheets to Coda.io to do some of the graphics and filtering. That may be a better workflow as it has the potential to automate it.
Tsheets captures the information elegantly, maybe a workflow where Coda manipulates, reformat, filters and displays the information, also potentially being able to make invoices.
An explore to see if I can automate a PDF print via some process. Tsheets -to Google Sheets- To Coda- to Google Sheets – to PDF? I’ll need to mull that over. An alternative similar path would be Tsheets -to Excel- To Microsoft Flow-to Excel – to PDF. I’ll need to think about that one too.
These workflows are more about things talking to each other and automation and seeing if they work. Too many steps though, could break quite easily. But a good exercise for another method of data manipulation.Rather than straight programming in something like Python.
End note. I will continue to use and explore Tsheets. Its robust and useful.