Towards the end of November last year, I started mulling over the idea of a time-stamped checklist. The idea was inspired by the day job, which, on occasions, requires tracking the completion time of certain tasks to ensure an audit trail in the event of a delay. I looked unsuccessfully on the app store for a tool that would meet my requirements. Whilst to-do lists are plentiful, habit trackers numerous, and short term timers and project planners abundant, I could find nothing suited to the task of short term task tracking, in a time auditable fashion. Hence, TimeTick, as it later became known, was born.
I was keen that TimeTick would be well suited to it’s raison d’etre, but would equally lend itself effectively to other time based tasks. With this in mind the design allowed for the creation of templates for different types of task, but based on a common structure. Each template would be usable as the basis for multiple checklists of that type, and each completed checklist had to be able to be emailed as a report to meet the auditing requirement.
With the design determined, coding started in December, and by early April I had a working app, comprising four main views plus some help screens, all internally tested on iPhone and iPad. At this point I recruited some volunteer external testers and released the app into the wild for testing. Gratifyingly, the app appeared relatively stable and feedback was generally positive. However, as a result of some of the feedback received, I decided to add some preferences to the templates to highlight and enhance some of the secondary features such as the time-bank.
In the short-term this was a mistake, as it proved far more involved than expected and by the time I had tamed the coloured toolbar and notification system, that I ended up incorporating, I was at the point of tearing out my rapidly greying hair. Added to this, I quickly realised that the help screens, as built, were going to be an ongoing headache to update, so the entire help system was ripped out and rewritten as a PDF file accessible through an in-app PDF reader. Full credit to @twostraws for a very useful tutorial and code snippet on his website which made the implementation of the latter relatively straight forward.
In the longer term, however, I feel that the extra time was worthwhile. By mid May, as I write this, the app has been submitted to Apple for app store approval and I am confident that the extra benefit of the background notifications will prove invaluable to those who download and use TimeTick.
I hope that this short article will encourage some of my readers to download TimeTick once it is released, or even take a look at PilotCalc which is already available on the app store. If you do and you like the app, I would very much appreciate a rating, and ideally a review on the App Store as this really helps small indie app developers. If you have any comments, suggestions or questions about my apps, please send me an email and I will do my best to help.