Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog

Time-Tracking Software: Lapsus

Ray Drainville

First of all, happy new year! Let’s hope that 2011 will be better than 2010.

Longtime visitors to the blog may possibly remember that Ian released a freeware time-tracker called MateWatch—software that helped track your time when using the text editor TextMate. As you might have guessed, it’s now pretty much abandonware, although with Nick’s advice you may well be able to get it up and running again. But you should question whether the effort is worth it: it really is dead, unless someone is interested in picking it up & maintaining it.

I’m mentioning this because I noted in the web stats a few days ago a visitor from a website that’s selling a new time-tracking app for the Mac. Lapsus takes a very novel approach, and from a user’s perspective, it’s a model of orderliness: it polls the currently-opened window every 3 seconds & logs it. You can “train” it to recognise open windows in a given directory as associated with a given project. This is a really nice take on the idea, since set-up/maintenance is usually one of the most frustrating aspects of time-tracking packages. And Lapsus’ programmer, John Gallagher, claims that people have a tendency to a) forget to turn on the time-tracking software; and b) forget to turn it off. I’m certainly guilty of this & I’m certainly not alone.

Being shiny new software, it’s got its share of bugs. At first I couldn’t create a project for love or money, as Lapsus kept crashing. However, today it has magically allowed me to create some projects, so I’m off on my evaluation. Also, it appears that an open document in Photoshop CS5 wasn’t being recognised as being, well, open. And it could do with the ability to sort one’s projects in alphabetical order, rather than in the order by which one arbitrarily created them.

But, as I said, it’s new. What’s important here is that Lapsus is a very refreshing take on a perpetual problem & may well help you be more careful with your time-tracking. I’ll be curious to see how it polls when I’m just playing about on the computer—perhaps I should have a project called “Faffing”. Well done, John!

Update (24 January 2011): I’ve just received a message from John that version 1.0 of Lapsus is out & it addresses all the bugs I mentioned here. It’s now time to evaluate it in earnest :)