Set Activities based on Document Location or folder

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  • Updated 6 years ago
I would like to be able to say something like "When I am working in a document that is within the path /Users/John/awesome/project/ then attribute my time to the activity Awesome Project."
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John B

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Posted 7 years ago

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ethomaz, Official Rep

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Thanks for the feedback. That might be tough to do, but it's an interesting idea. We will keep it in mind.
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John B

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It would be extremely useful for me.

I am a web designer/programmer, and almost all websites I work on have files called, for example, style.css, index.php, utilities.php, header.php ... you get the picture. So, title matching isn't much use here when I want to keep track of how much time I am spending on each project, but since all of the files for a project generally live in one place on my hard drive, if I could assign an activity based on that place, (like how I can assign an activity based on the title bar now), that would be excellent.
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ethomaz, Official Rep

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Yeah, it's a really great idea, I like it.
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Sam D

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on 10.5 one could probably use FSEventSubscriptions or the UKKQueue on 10.4 to watch for changes in folders it would catch most saves and renames, but from what i have seen they don't really watch for 'open' events some apps you might be able to query them with appleEvents or scriptingBridge to get lists of open documents...

Just some thoughts
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John B

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It would have to take the whole path into account, since, for example, I often use folders with the same names, (every website has a "style" folder), but if it I could attach, for example, /Users/John/specialproject to an activity that would be useful.

I guess you could offer regex matching here too, but it wouldn't be as useful as in document titles.
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ethomaz, Official Rep

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@Sam D, thanks for the ideas... We need to do some more extensive research to see what we can do. Unfortunately I don't think there's an "easy" way to do it.
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Sam D

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good ideas are often not easy to implement, though they are easy to think of sometimes ;) Keep up the cool work
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John B

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So true Sam D. It's nice having the easy job sometimes...
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I am a graphic designer and I use Slife to track my time per client. I think that if Slife could follow and assign activity within a specified project folder, that would be awesome. It would really make billing easy and reliable.

(I just upgraded to Slife 2.0. I know it's a work in progress, but so far...nice job! Thanks.)
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ethomaz, Official Rep

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Hey kd, thanks for your support. Yes, we want to make Slife better and better, with the feedback from everyone here in the forum. After all, we are building it for you!
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Chuck Vose

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Can we get something like a regex engine for this? We should be able to track activity based on file path, page title, file type, time of day, etc. Frankly, everything you can think of I would like to regex on.
I would like to know how much time I spend during the period of 10-3pm on processes that have PIDs less than 1024.
I would like to know how much time I work on files that end in .css and live in a certain client's folder.
I would like to know how much time I spend on a particular subdomain or domain folder as well as how much time I spend on the entire domain.

You have all this info but no tools for us to use this data. If you let us play we'll do your work for you but you have to give us the tools or the access to do so.

Aren't developers wonderful? Simultaneously pushing you in new directions and wanting to do work for you because we realize that you will never have the same values as us. We have to make our own creation to truly be happy.
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ethomaz, Official Rep

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There's another discussion about adding support for Regex in Slife here:

http://getsatisfaction.com/slifelabs/...

We are seriously considering this option - the goal is to make it easy to track these patterns.

It's not true that we have access to all the information you mention all the time, especifically the file path. Some applications make that information available easily, others don't. Another thread:

http://getsatisfaction.com/slifelabs/...
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I'm a graphic designer too, and I save each of my files with job numbers. If I could enter *8065* as an activity, and if Slife could record time spent on ANY file with that job number (quark document, pdf etc), that would make my life so much easier!
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Danielle - You can do that today!

Say the job number for client ABC is 8065 and you include the number in the filename of any document you are working on for ABC. You can create an activity and call it "Client ABC", for example. Then, create an item for "Web & Documents" and set its name to 8065. That's it. Slife will now associate all the 8065 documents with client ABC automatically.

Does that make sense?
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Well the problem is, none of my documents are named just "8065." They have 8065 in the name, but the file name is something like "Client_flyer_v1_8065.pdf" - so I would need the software to find just the job number within the longer file name, and from my experiments, it doesn't. Am I missing something?
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Slife should be able to automatically categorize the document even if it's not called just "8065". If it has '8065' in the filename, that should be enough.
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^^
Wow I didn't know this, very useful.

Could Slife pick up spotlight comments in addition to filenames? If so, it would be straightforward to tag files (including all files in a folder via Automator) with '8065' or whatever, and assign the tag to an Activity.
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Ok, we have an idea for implementing the tracking folder feature. I thought I would post it here first to get some feedback from all of you.

In the activity editor window, we would add another tab for 'folders'. You will be able to pick a folder and add them to the folder tracking list. For each folder, Slife would add a small tracking code to the filenames in that folder. So if a file is called "index.html", Slife would rename it to "index-sl001.html". Once you remove the folder from the folder tracking list, Slife would remove the tracking code from the filenames as well.

Slife identifies files based on their filenames. The tracking code would be a way to associate them with a particular folder, which in turn could be linked to an activity.

One potential problem with changing filenames is that it would interfere with version control systems. There might be some other issues as well.

What do you think?
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saramichelef

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1) the tracking a whole folder thing is KEY for me.
2) the changing filename wouldn't be a huge deal for me, but JohnB (below) makes important points about problems it could cause.
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This is exactly the feature I've been looking for! I'd love it.
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John B

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Yeah, I'm not down with changing the filenames. Other than messing with subversion, (my version control system), it would also mess with how the files interact with each other. For example, it would break all links and includes in a website that I am working on.

Edit: I realize that this folder thing is going to be really hard to do, but when you pull it off it'll really set slife apart from other time tracking apps, (imo).
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Jeremy Bechtold

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and if you pull this off... it becomes an app I'd pay for in a heartbeat... as it stands right now, I still have to do all the work to compile my time and add it all up, because it's impossible to track all individual files... I would spend more time doing that than actually working on those files... don't touch the filenames (would kill links in files for all web and print designers for sure)... but perhaps log them by multi-level paths in the Slife db, that way "... /about/index.php" is not the same as "... /contact-us/index.asp" and if they go back 2 or 3 levels in the structure, then those same pagenames from two different project would be unique in the tracking.

Seriously, get the folder thing and you got an app worth $50. I know we all like Slife because it's free to begin with, but in the money it will make back by saving our time, it'd be worth it. [but keep it free if you can ;) ]
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ethomaz, Official Rep

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I agree. The way I see it, the issue with version control is a bigger problem than the links. In addition to changing the filenames, Slife could go into the files and do a quick find/replace on all the links.
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John B

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Doing a find/replace could get tricky. You'd have to search for more than just links - also images, any type of embed or object, any filesystem operation in PHP, and so on. I think it could get pretty complicated.

I was wondering if there's a way to add metadata to a file, so I popped open the Get Info window. Could you do it by adding spotlight comments? That wouldn't mess with the actual files, and may work.
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ethomaz, Official Rep

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Hmmm. That's an idea. We will look into it.

Here's the issue. Most times, all Slife knows is the name of the file you are working on, say "report.doc". That's it. No metadata about the file or anything. Slife could ask Spotlight for metadata about "report.doc", but what if there's more than one "report.doc" in the file system? Then it becomes really hard to distinguish them.
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Sorry for chiming in here late in the discussions, but I am just about to ditch the 3 copies of JobCapture I have bought about a year ago (I'll explain maybe in another thread).

Basically, I would need the folder watching too, and to be honest, filename changing will be a no go! I will try the activity naming feature to see how far that will get me. I any event, I would need the folder watching feature to work also if I open files directly on my local file server across the LAN. It has a RAID card (and RAID 5 setup) and 4 big drives and backup software running. So please don't jump at me about working on server directly...
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OK, after a bit more thought, I just realised that if I want to track files that don't have an automatic job number that is part of all the files belonging to that project (e.g. a large number of images supplied), then only a watched folder will work. And to make it even more fun, any sub folders would need to be tracked as well...

Would be very happy to test some concepts here on my server for you and keep a log of errors etc. if that helps.
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Thanks tinti. When we come up with something that works we will definitely let everybody here knows. The feedback here has been really great.
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Chuck Vose

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Man, you guys have complicated needs. I would be happy with a provisional fix that allows me to track based on whether a file ends in .rb. Hell, I'm surprised that you guys can even know that.

So lets get some provisional stuff in and see how it goes over. Something simple like tracking by file extension would be a start and we can work our way up to regexs, metadata, etc.

Seems like most people can track based on filename or directory name if I'm reading the thread correctly?
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John B

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We can track by filename, but not yet directory. I'm really wanting directory, (or, actually, full path if the Slife folks can find a way).
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ethomaz, Official Rep

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Definitely, Slife can track by filename keyword. All you have to do is create a new activity and then create a new item with, say, ".doc" or "report", under Web & Documents (in the Activity editor window).
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Fonant

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Luckily several of the tools I use include the full file path in the window title bar. I think this means I can include part of the path in my activity definition.
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ethomaz, Official Rep

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That is correct. It looks like it would work out perfectly in your case. And you can do that today, what's even better.