Mac Time Tracking with TrackRecord for Basecamp

With the Mac being the go-to choice for many web developers and readers of this blog, I wanted to mention a gorgeous application for making sure no billable hour goes undocumented – TrackRecord. Sure, there are tons of applications for freelancers to track their time spent on different programs (RescueTime), time spent working (Billings/OnTheJob), but none of these apps offer the ability to sync your time recorded to the popular web app Basecamp.

TrackRecord does just that, and today we’ll be taking a closer look at what it has to offer users of 37signals’ Basecamp web application. Read on to find out more!

What’s Basecamp?

For those who haven’t heard, Basecamp is a collaborative web based project management application from the company 37signals. It’s a fantastic way to track large scale projects with colleagues across the room or across the globe.

Basecamp

Basecamp

One of the features rolled out to their premium plans is time tracking. However, to enter this information, workers must record their time separately and then enter in their billable hours on the website.

Basecamp's Timer view

Basecamp's Timer view

Bridging the Gap

TrackRecord aims to connect working on your Mac to tracking with your Basecamp account. It works like any native Mac time tracking application, placing both a timer in the menu bar and a larger application to manage the tracked time.

Sitting in Your Menu Bar

Sitting in Your Menu Bar

TrackRecord skips over the normal User Interface design standards on the Mac, opting instead for a classic, wooden feel. This is a nice change to other applications that make time tracking feel futuristic – but it definitely doesn’t match the rest of the Mac experience.

The Main Window

The Main Window

You can view all of your projects on the sidebar within the application. This way, you can focus on current projects and hide what you don’t need to see.

The Sidebar

The Sidebar

TrackRecord will import your projects from Basecamp and allow you to start adding billable time in seconds. You can do this either manually or through their built-in timer. However, there are a few other features that help TrackRecord stand out.

TrackRecord’s Best Lap Times

Syncing back and forth with Basecamp was seamless. I could easily add times to specific To Dos or projects on a whole. The application utilizes a Local-copy vs a Server-copy system. You can track time within the application and then post the times to Basecamp. This way, you aren’t accidentally posting too few or too many hours spent on certain projects.

Afterwards, the application keeps a local log of times that it has posted, and even changes the posted times without having to log into the Basecamp web app.

When you open the application, you can easily just press the giant Play button and the Flip Clock begins counting. You can get to work and deal with organizing your time slips later. TrackRecord also continues to work when you’ve left your computer. When you return, you have the option to omit it, say if you were on your coffee break, or continue to count it.

Finally, TrackRecord allows you to run multiple timers at once, and all can be controlled by the menu bar applet.

The Big, Beautiful Clock

The Big, Beautiful Clock

Things That Could Be Improved

I enjoyed using TrackRecord a lot, but some of the application’s features aren’t necessarily perfect. When you open up TrackRecord, it presents a read-only “Timer Filters” mode – listing just the time you have recorded within the app. However, it does not display time that has been entered manually on the Basecamp website.

Read Only Mode

Read Only Mode

The user interface isn’t very consistent either. The wood accents are interesting and very different, but do clash with the normal Aqua frame. There are a few different UI schemes for the different row headers as well as varying theming within the sidebar.

For instance, to add a manual time to a project, you can hover over the project and click a plus button. However, that button doesn’t match any of the UI elements. Finally, when the application is syncing, it throws an odd grey opacity layer over the sidebar with a Basecamp logo and an information phrase. Again, it just doesn’t fit into an application with such organic accents.

Syncing

Syncing

Why TrackRecord?

The main feature that will either make or break your thoughts on this app is Basecamp integration. TrackRecord requires a Basecamp account that has a time tracking feature available. If you are using the lower Solo or Basic Basecamp plans (which are also not free), you will not have the ability to record time into Basecamp and as such can’t utilize TrackRecord at all.

The minimum Basecamp plan that will allow time tracking costs $49 per month. This is pretty steep if you’re not using Basecamp on a team wide basis. However, if you are already using Basecamp for project and time tracking, then TrackRecord would completely make sense.

Basecamp doesn’t offer any sort of Mac or web based stopwatch or timer. Plus, with a monthly fee of at least $49, TrackRecord’s one time fee of $20 makes it feel like a great deal!


Summary

TrackRecord is a native Mac application for tracking time in your Basecamp account.

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