STOPTHAT - Rationale

I tried to find an existing piece of software that would do what I wanted, honestly. I wanted something that was open source, was simple, worked on Windows and Linux, had a simple database format, and had support for projects.

My Previous Solution

Prior to STOPTHAT, I used a pen and notebook to keep track of time spent working on a project. When it was invoice time, I would go through the notebook, and transfer the data into a spreadsheet, which did the work of calculating how much time had been spent. Then I transferred the time measurements to a second spreadsheet to create an invoice. In retrospect, this process is ridiculously time-consuming.

This was a solution that I had put in place immediately when I started working under my own banner, based on what my previous employer had done. But as time went on, I started to notice how much time I was spending scanning through the notebook and filling out the spreadsheets. Couldn't software do this job more efficiently?

In March of 2011 I finally said, “I want these spreadsheets gone by next week.”

Trying Out Other Solutions

I looked at worklog , which is interesting. It’s like a full-screen ncurses stopwatch program for named projects. But it is not cross-platform with Windows, which was a requirement.

I looked at org-mode for Emacs, since I use that editor on both Windows and Linux. After testing out org-mode, I realized that it was more suited to getting organized, and the ability to track time was kind of tacked on to it.

The closest thing I found to what I wanted was GTimeLog. GTimeLog is open source, simple, cross-platform, with a plain-text database. The only thing it didn't have, that I wanted, was support for projects. And I had trouble running it on Windows.

Roll Your Own

I was all set to try GTimeLog, but I had trouble getting it running on Windows. When I couldn't get GTimeLog running on Windows, I started to ask the fatal question: how long will it take to roll out my own time tracking software?

The other reasons I wanted to make my own were so I could use my own personal date format , and have support for projects.

Anyway, that’s the exciting story of why I started writing STOPTHAT.