varmil9

Project time/clicks application

6 posts in this topic

Hello guys, I have made a few simple scripts in Autoit before, but I'm fairly new here, and also in this forum, so please forgive me if I repeated the question or misplaced the topic! :)

So, my question:

I'm an architect in a small family office: four of us, and four employees. I need a software that tracks our mouse clicks or in some other way, the time we worked on each project. As a result there should be a monthly graph which shows total number of daily clicks and also in which application (possibly which exact file, so we know roughly how many days/hours each project took). We tried making both us and employees write what we do each day in excel sheets, but sooner or later, in a hurry, we just skip doing it, and also, determining total times for each project was nearly impossible (sometimes each of us works on 3 or even more different projects on the same day, since we do a lot of really small projects, often while doing the big ones which take months).

So, lets sum it up, the results should show this:
-Regarding the clicks (working time): Monthly graph showing total number of clicks for each day. When selecting a day, see a graph which shows a daily timeline with number of clicks for each hour.
-When selecting a day, you can see how many clicks/minutes was spent in each file (or at least each application).
-A script that sums up the total work time for each file.
 

 

I would try to make the application on my own, but I would first like if someone with more experience could tell me if all this is possible and is it very hard or not really that hard, before I go all in. I know only Autoit basics, and I will have to learn to be able to make this.

I'm aware there's already a few applications that do similar things, but I couldn't find any that is nearly as good as my idea, for this exact purpose. Please recommend if you know any.

 

Thanks in advance!

Milan V

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In answer to your questions:

  • Yes, it is possible
  • In short, yes it will be difficult to write. For a longer explanation on why:
    • According to your written requirements, you would need to keep a running list of all open applications/windows, and then monitor the time that each window is active.
    • You mention tracking mouseclicks, but I don't see what that is going to buy you - you could pull the screen location of the click, and the active window at the time, but the information you would get back would be something along the lines of what is below. You would then need to convert the timestamp to some measurement of time spent "working"
Quote

Clicked at 506, 161 at 12/15/2016 8:51:31 AM. Active Windows was C:\Users\JLogan\Desktop\Test4.au3 - SciTE [5 of 7]

  • All of this information you would need to output to an external source (I would suggest a sqlite database due to the sheer amount of data you'll be collecting throughout the day.
  • Once written to the database, you'll need to parse the "time spent with window active" field, and use that to quantify how long the user spent working.

All in all, I guess in my mind it would come down to the question of how badly to you mistrust your employees to have to go to this level. It would be much more standard practice to implement some form where they put in their relative time every week (there are a couple of online time-tracking systems that will send reminders) and then manage the users who are not filling them out as they should. Before you spend too many hours on a script like this, I would look at systems such as Kimai or TSheets.


√-1 2^3 ∑ π, and it was delicious!

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Thank you for your answer :)

Although I am an architect, programming and PCs generally (and games, of course), have always been my main interest, so I suppose I may try to make this one, more as a hobby than necessity. Its not all about distrust towards employees, I have a strong passion for numbers: for example, I always loved the moment when I complete the GTA or any other game,  when it gives me the sheet with numbers showing how many steps I made, how many bullets I fired etc.

The difference here is that these statistics could give us valuable information which, in the end, could improve estimation of some values, like our project pricing, employee bonuses for effort, rescheduling or adding more smaller break times, etc. I know that part with click surveillance sounds like a bad thing, but much bigger problems appear out of disorder and unaware delaying of projects, since discipline of making working diary is hard to maintain. It would be a breakthrough if we had a table for all of us which automatically shows who is working on which file and total times for each project. So, I guess this is my chance to learn advanced Autoit coding while making something useful.

All this is a long shot though. Ill check the software you linked and see if wasting time coding and living through misery while failing is worth it :D

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Basing bonuses for effort and break times on a click counter? Well, I hope no one ever finds out that algorithm :) That would be extremely easy to cheat in many ways.

Whether it's hard or not is of course purely based on your own proficiency. I wouldn't say it's all that hard, certainly not if you simply start with a POC that does nothing more than gathering the data in question. And I would suggest starting with that (if anything) because chances are you will find out that you can't draw that much information from these data, but if you do, then chances are your employees are not going to be happy with the scrutinization.

I mean, I wouldn't be... If my boss would think he has to big brother me like that, I would complain against it, and if he insisted I would probably be quite unhappy and go look for another boss. An architect office - it's not exactly prison labor, is it? :) But maybe it's me. Anyway, it's certainly doable, maybe a couple of hours for an initial skeleton project and a couple of days to really make something more complete.

Good luck anyway!


Roses are FF0000, violets are 0000FF... All my base are belong to you.

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I didnt mean to use it for exploiting employees, like you put it, even though it does sound that way. It would make it easier for all of us in means of eventually filling spreadsheets and sending warnings when some project gets neglected. I would like to use it for myself, even if there was no employees. Im using this one for months now, but it doesnt really do the trick with files http://www.digitaction.com/index.php/products/mouse-and-key-counter.html . Its also too simple and I think I cant extract the information in any way.

Number of clicks wouldnt really mean anything except some fun for me, but the time spent without any clicks would, and also the total time spent "clicking" in a single file (not sure if clicks and time sum have to be related). Its a simplified way to automatically examine overall effort for each project.

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I'm certainly not saying you'd mean any harm by it, not at all. But it is still the kind of monitoring that slightly raises my neck hair, no matter the intentions :) 

But hey, as I said, that's just me. You can code whatever you want unless you break the law :) Be sure to check in how far you'd have to inform the employees about what you are exactly tracking about their activity (no idea how the law is in your country). Anyway, it's certainly doable.


Roses are FF0000, violets are 0000FF... All my base are belong to you.

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