A New Report and Search / Key Word Filtering Improvements

tldr; We’ve added a “Activity Details” report, that presents your normal graph views of rank, over time, and productivity of all your “detailed” activities, or documents. This view is particularly useful combined with the Search word filtering tool, which now has improved results matching.

Search Improvements: Foundation for Our New Report

Our previously announced search improvements were primarily targeted at dramatic speed gains and increased reliability. As this new infrastructure stabilized, we took a careful look at how key word filtering was working for users, and considered the great feedback our users provided in conjunction with our own analysis. Then, over the last few weeks, we’ve been tuning how we can better and more intuitively match against user’s requested search parameters– for example, if you are in Word and have a long file path for the current document you are editing, the ability to search by directory, filename, file type, application type, etc. We’ve arrived now at what seems like an effective general solution for smart indexing– but we will continue to examine the results and take feedback on how it can be further improved. All together, the much improved speed combined with the more accurate results provided us the opportunity to integrate a new report into our offering, one that makes keyword reports particularly useful for exploring how you spend your life on the computer.

A side note about terms: I use both the terms “search” and “key word filtering” due to the dual purposes of this capability. We find that predominantly users use this feature (and it’s persisted cousin, Custom Reports) for the purpose of generated reports filtered against desired match results: we call this use “key word filtering” because rather than trying to find something, you are trying to generate a filtered report with a sort of ad hoc grouping. However, users also sometimes use this feature simply to aggregate / locate time for a specific item: this is the “search” use. Finally, there is a semantic case to be made that, in general, web app users are more inclined to understand at first glance what goes in this field when it is labeled “Search”, despite that not really being its primary purpose.

A New Report: The Activity Details Report for Premium Users

A much asked for feature, our new Activity Details report provides an immediate view into the time you spend on your most urgent items, no matter what application or site you are on. If you are tracking your time in a project or for a customer, or want to understand, for example, how email time figures against your favorite design or engineering tool, this is a great resource. You can filter it with keywords to narrow down the view, and you’ll get reports that graph the top documents or pages, and a table that lets you see your app/site plus its documents. Critically, before it was impossible to see all the results of search filters in one view: you could never see matching documents/details from different apps and sites expanded together, and now you can. The old activity report is now called the Activity Summary report if you want a less noisy summary.

Navigation Changes: Integrating Search / Key Word Filtering into Regular Use

In conjunction with the above changes, we’ve rationalized how the site navigation responds to your searches and key word filtering. Again, this is an attempt to combine our own analysis with your feedback, and may be tweaked over time.

  • From any report view, a new search (as in, clicking the search button) lands you on the Activity Details page. This provides you with immediate feedback for quality of your search results. Non-premium users still land on the Activities Summary page.
  • Clicking search on the dashboard leaves you on the dashboard, with filtered results
  • Once a search is active, it becomes sticky: if you navigate to Time reports using the side navigation, or click the “view complete report” links on dashboard widgets, your current search filter is preserved
  • When viewing Activity reports, the search filter is preserved for Application or Site items linked in the table results. For example, if you search for keywords like “Seattle Atlanta”, you get a list of all apps and sites that have either of those words in their name or document details; if GMail was in the results, and you clicked the item “GMail” anywhere it occurs in the app/site column, you would get a report of all GMail items with the same keywords in its subjects and details.
  • To clear out a search filter from affecting your Time Report browsing, simply click “Clear Search Filter [x]” and your screen is reloaded with the filter applied, and it is removed from all navigation points.
  • Note: at this time links click *inside* the graphs themselves are not preserving the keywords, we’re continuing to explore sensible behavior for this case.

Thanks for your patience and feedback as we improve RescueTime!