New Release (Data Collectors, Document Support, & Search Filters)

Update: First batch of Document / Activity collecting applications is now switched on. Read about it here.

Last night we pushed out a big release for RescueTime, though it might take you a while to notice the changes given that we’ll be rolling them out slowly over the next week or two.

The three big changes to RescueTime this week are ground-up-rebuilt Data Collectors for Mac and Windows, document tracking (our most popular feature request!),  and Search filter functionality.  I’ll run through them below in a bit more detail.

New Data Collectors

The original RescueTime Data Collectors were built as prototypes.  We continued to develop and improve them as best we could, but we were never happy with the foundation of these applications.  So our scrappy Data Collector team set out to rebuild them with the goal of decreasing the memory/CPU footprint and increasing reliability and accuracy.  After months of hard work, they came through in spades.  The new Data Collectors are going out in a phased release.  We’ve been testing it with volunteers (via this post) and are now officially linking to it from our download page, which means that all new users will enjoy the new Data Collectors.  We will push out a software update to our beloved existing users once we’re confident that it performs “in the wild” as well as we’re expecting it to.  Highlights of the new Data Collectors:

  • A simplified user interface – most settings will now be managed from the RescueTime.com website, and for teams and businesses using RescueTime, settings can be shared account wide, greatly simplifying installation for a large number of users
  • More accurate time recording – the new RescueTime client was built from the ground up with accuracy being our key objective. Network issues, non-responsive external applications, and other issues should no longer affect the time recording functionality of RescueTime.
  • More intelligent idle, sleep, and hibernation detection
  • Faster updates sent to your RescueTime.com dashboard (approximately every 3 minutes!)
  • A common code base between OS X and Windows – bug fixes and new features are much easier to implement
  • Enhancements for enterprise wide deployments, silent installation with response files and the ability to pass configuration information at the command line
  • Automated background updates – allow uninterrupted updates of the RescueTime client so you don’t lose any of your productive time
  • RescueTime should now use significantly less CPU and memory than the 1.0 client version
  • (Windows)RescueTime no longer depends on the Microsoft .Net 2.0 framework – which means a much simpler installation process especially in the enterprise environment
  • (Windows) Support for IE8 Google Chrome 2 web browsers

Document Tracking

RescueTime has always had difficulties with vague/general applications like Microsoft Word or IM clients.  When you see that you spent 20 hours in the last month in Word, it’s sometimes challenging to understand what that means.  Were you writing a letter to your mom?  Or writing up a complex RFP document for work?  When you see that you spent 15 hours in your IM client, were you chatting with co-workers or your old college drinking buddies?

As of today (with the new Data Collectors ONLY), RescueTime supports the collection of sub-entities.  But you aren’t going to see them– yet.  Due to how Windows and Mac OS X handle windows, we can’t turn this on in a global way.  Each application requires a little bit of TLC to make it happily work with documents/sub-entities.  We’ll be phasing in visualizations of documents over the next week or two in big batches.  If there are particular apps that you’d really love to see document tracking for, please make noise in the comments or drop us a line— we’ll try to get your apps to the top of the list.  Otherwise, we obviously have a pretty good understanding of the most popular apps without or userbase and we’ll be working our way down from the top of that list.

Search Filters

We’ve added a powerful index and search capability to RescueTime which allows you to filter any report you see in RescueTime by keyword.  This is a early version of what search can do and we have several enhancements planned for the future.  The goal with search is twofold.  First, we want to allow you to get to the data that you want to see quicker– one search can often replace several click-and-wait actions.  We also feel that search is an important part of document tracking.  Once we start tracking documents, it’s going to increase the size of each persons dataset dramatically.  You can imagine how much data a manager might have at a 500-person company using RescueTime.  We want to make sure that people are able to navigate through this data easily– and we think search is a big part of this equation.

The search filter functionality we pushed last night allows to you filter any report you are viewing by keyword.  RescueTime will present a dynamically generated report of all time in that report which matches your keyword(s) in application name, document name (if supported for that app), tag, and category.


3 Comments on “New Release (Data Collectors, Document Support, & Search Filters)”

  1. jorgefsb says:

    “We’ll be phasing in visualizations of documents over the next week or two in big batches. If there are particular apps that you’d really love to see document tracking for, please make noise in the comments or drop us a line– we’ll try to get your apps to the top of the list. ”

    Guys… Guys!!! You rock!
    Ok… lets give a round of applause for this apps in order to have them first!

    – 3dmax
    – Photoshop
    – Maya
    – Windows Explorer
    – Msnmsgr
    – Spreadsheets.google.com
    – zbrush3
    – mail.google.com/a/
    – sites.google.com
    – dopus
    – bodypaint3d
    – Firefox
    – word
    – excel
    – power point

    Thanks you guys!

    Keep up the great work!

    Jorge Suarez Basañez

  2. Timo says:

    Well, here is my “noise” for the document tracking apps:
    – Visual Studio 2008
    – Visual Studio 2005
    – Visual Studio 2003
    – Delphi 5
    – Notepad++
    – Firefox
    – OpenOffice
    – TotalCommander (folder)

    (though I would prefer a more generic approach, at least as a fall-back option, where one could just use the window title with some kind of regular expression to grab the relevant part)

    “… please make noise in the comments or drop us a line– we’ll try to get your apps to the top of the list. Otherwise, we obviously have a pretty good understanding of the most popular apps without or userbase and we’ll be working our way down from the top of that list.”

    Not sure if this is the right approach, because at the moment RescueTime is not very useful for the people that you are trying to reach with that new feature, so they might not be using RT at all. At least that is what I am doing: I will use RT as soon as it can track the project that I am working on in Visual Studio, but at the moment I do not use RT because it does not really give me the information that I need.

  3. EK says:

    Apps for noise:
    – Windows Explorer
    – MS Excel
    – MS Word
    – VLC media plyer
    – skype
    – notepad

    Thanks