Hamster applet – probably the best time tracking application

And I could say this in both a regretful and joyful voice.

In the last couple of days I was very eagerly looking for a time tracking application to replace the old pen & paper version, which I used in the last 6 months. There where only few requirements for it: simple interface, intuitive and unobtrusive towards my desktop (but that wasn’t a strict requirement). Along with some common sense features for a time tracker:

  • task tracking (doh!) stop and start timer
  • continue and pause task
  • time reports day, week and month
  • overviews of most time consuming tasks, or other features that make you feel warm and fuzzy

Of course before deciding on a single application I did test quite a few alternatives.

Baralga

Baralga was the first time tracker I came to test. While it has most of the features one would request in a time tracker, it’s interface is counter-intuitive and has bad response times when invoking from the tray. An interface facelift would make it more agreeable, and maybe more easily adopted.

Klok

Klok is a time tracking application written in Adobe Air. While it has a slow startup time, once it is up it works rather well. However I did not find out how to add tasks to project, and track the time spent on tasks and not on the whole project. I managed to add time entries into the time entries table, but that was all I could dig up.

The interface is not helpful at all. First thing that personally annoyed me was the dark theme of the application and small font sized blue text, they should have used a light theme similar to the ones used for reports.

Almost forgot. The application has a drop area where it states Drop here to work on, but time entries cannot be droped there, which would be a logic move from my point of view; especially if you work in a place like I do, where you switch constantly between tasks.

Fanurio

I didn’t found much to complain about it, except that it costs $59… And that for features I don’t require, like billing, project management and the sort. Maybe if I would still have worked as a freelancer, but under current circumstances I’ll have to put it aside and move forward.

GnoTime

In spite of all the good reviews you may read about it I do beg to differ. Firstly, Gnome Time Tracker is not a time tracker. It is more of a project management tool that has the ability to track time per project. It has a bagful of reports it can generate, and other well organized things it can do; but as I said it is not a time tracking software and makes it not that easy to do the one thing that I was looking for.

Hamster applet

After going to all that hassle it was proven once again that simple is better. While most of the users who are reading this article and share the same point of view as mine about the previous time trackers, might get disappointed in this last part because Hamster applet is a Gnome applet, thus not available on Windows.

It misses only one feature pointed out at the start of the article (mainly the possibility to pause, continue a task), but otherwise it accomplishes all my needs. It’s well integrated into the desktop (being an applet for the panel), and it is worth a try.

Hamster applet competitor

I have, till now, found only one true competitor to Hamster applet, and that is Toggl-desktop. It has a more colorful interface, multiple skins, but lacks built in time reports, which are only available if you log in on their website.


Filed under Review

  • http://smileychris.tactful.co.nz SmileyChris

    Thanks, a good summary — and I agree that hamster seems to be the best option.

    The one feature I miss is being able to sync my time between two machines (even if I only worked on a single one, having it backed up to some offsite repository would be nice).

    Pausing an app and continuing it pretty easy in hamster. Just stop the task, then double click it when you start again!

    • http://activedeveloper.info mhitza

      Mostly my fault for not being very clear. I wanted to refer to a way of pausing a task, working on others meanwhile, and then return to a previous tasks; and all the measured time be merged in one.

      Example, because otherwise I will be misread:
      -> start task A
      -> switch to task B (task A is stopped/paused)
      -> return to task A

      This type of switching I do it constantly so it would be neat to have the same tasks grouped togheter. Like you never would have switched from them.

      It would be also practical for me because I don’t want to sum up the hours every day for the grouped tasks. But with this type of functionality there would not be the clear top-bottom ordering of tasks.

      • http://smileychris.tactful.co.nz SmileyChris

        Ah, right – I see what you’re saying. It’d be a pretty fundamental change but I’ve thought the same sometimes (on days when I’ve switched contexts too much too ;)

        Now I don’t worry about it too much if I have a huge list of tasks per day, and just use the overview page to look at my summary per category.