If you are like me, you work on various projects and tasks, often bouncing back-and-forth, trying to meet multiple deadlines. When the dust settles, how do you know where your time went?
CadTempo takes time keeping “into a new realm of time tracking, logging, and reporting of the engineering activities of your users.”. It provides an easy mechanism for tracking time spent on a task, a file, and within an application and provides tools to review the data in graphs and charts. CadTempo integrates into just about any CAD related system, including AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit, SolidWorks, Proe/E, Sketchup, and more… and don’t let the “Cad” in the name mislead you… it truly integrates into any application on your system.
Created by Patrick Hughes, a machine designer, and owner of Engineered Design Solutions. He has been working with AutoCAD since 1991 and over the years he has developed a number of software solutions to automate his workflows and increase his productivity. This includes his time tracking tools which became CadTempo. He’s also famous for his CAD Dinosaurs Journey series, which he wrote for Cadalyst.
The key feature of CadTempo? The CadTempo Logger. It automatically records your time, and it starts immediately when you log into your computer. No program to launch, and no timer to start. The recorded time is not the “open” time, but the actual edit time.
During installation (or after in the options) you specify the file types, applications, and folder locations you want to track.Because it starts automatically and already knows what to track (based on your selections) it is completely unobtrusive and honestly, at times, I completely forgot it was even running.
When you want to track an activity, independent of a particular file or application, you can launch the Task Timer. After specifying the task name and additional information click Begin to start tracking time. I was impressed by this feature as when I left my computer and forgot to stop the timer, it had automatically paused itself, prompting me to resume tracking time when I returned.
Similar in process to the Task Timer is the Activity Timer. Use the Activity Timer to account (backfill) for unanticipated time away from your computer.
Want a quick peek of your current activity? CADTempo has you covered with the Timer Display, that shows the current document and the currently collected time data.
Viewing the Data
The CadTempo Viewer is the tool to review the recorded time and activities. This will collect the time from all users on the computer. It is a bit rough around the edges, as it is not the most elegant application I’ve used. I ran into a couple of instances where I could not resize the dialog as I wanted, but it was nothing I could repeat. A switch between tabs or a shutdown and restart of the application resolved the issue. Let’s remember that appearances are not everything, and this application provides a lot of data in an easy to digest manner.
Starting with the Files tab you can view the editing and elapsed time on a folder, a collection of files, or a single file. In the image shown below, I can quickly identify that I spent 3.19 hours on the “ACAD” folder between April 30th and May 7th, with the most time with Civil Base.dwg (1.23 hours). By selecting a file and a calendar date range I can see the specific times I worked with the document.
The Session view provides summary and detail information for a selected date range. This provides a timesheet type view so you can see the days you worked, the hours you worked each day, and see when you worked those hours. This view can quickly be switched between the Session Report (shown below), Task Report, and the Activity Report.
With the time tracked, you can use the various options to view the data in different charts and analytical views. The raw data can be exported to an Excel spreadsheet.
At US$$79.95 / license CadTempo provides an inexpensive means for tracking time. As it starts & stops automatically there is no forgetting to track time and it also means you get a true look into your time spent, no estimates. Installation and setup is straightforward and easy to accomplish. The analytics and chart features will be great, especially if you are reviewing time spent by others.
I found that I needed to “play” a bit with the CadTempo Viewer features and options, not because it was difficult to use or hard to understand, but just to get a sense of what it was presenting. The help is a bit lacking when it comes to explaining the various tabs, the features, and all the options.
Overall this is a great product, especially in that it can track time for any application on the system, not just CAD related. I love the fact that it is invisible, but silently tracking time in the background.
You can try the product for 30-days before you decide to buy. Although it is available in the Autodesk Exchange I’d recommend downloading it straight from the CadTempo website to ensure you are on the current version.
Feature image credit: Macro Diesel Watch via photopin (license)