zondag 14 juni 2020

Developing new look for mobile phone apps

The past week or so I worked on setting up new mobile phone apps for Project Hours. Again it will be a Xamarin Forms project with a shared library with UI pages and business logic, and an Android app and a iPhone (iOS) app that use that shared library. I created a new page UI design that is going to replace the old header.  Thanks to  Andrew Hoefling's Xamarin Blog with a good explanation on how to design page headers.

Old look and feel (currently in the app stores):

New look and feel (better release this asap..) Looks so much better..

Above new code currently runs on Android, must test this on iOS now.
To be continued,

zaterdag 16 mei 2020

Received useful feedback from customers

A product must be improved continuously, and beyond that it is fun to add new features! I believe that it is best to add something that customers and reviewers asked for. So in the coming period Project Hours will be updated with a few things that users requested.

Notification feature 
Nobody likes filling in hours in a time-tracking tool. It is something on the side that has to be done. It is often forgotten which leads to huge backlogs of time-tracking to do. To help prevent this, a daily or weekly reminder to fill in your hours will help. The Project Hours mobile apps will be updated so users can schedule reminders that will appear as notifications on their phones. I am not sure yet how to display reminders on laptops and PC's. Email reminders? Something to consider.

I will also add warnings for timers that run longer than a day. Usually these timers were started to measure time on a tasks but the user forgot the stop the timer. Perhaps a reminder every hour is useful..

Easy sign-up from mobile phones
Currently, if you are interested to start using Project Hours, you have to sign-up via the web site. But I think it would help finding new customers if companies can sign up up and organise their projects and team directly in the Project Hours iPhone or Android app. It will also help to advertise Project Hours on app listing sites like https://getapp.com

Enough to do, to be continued..

vrijdag 27 maart 2020

Working on new landing page for potential customers

Project Hours is always looking for new customers and it is important to provide an easy entry path for interested companies. At the moment the Project Hours landing pages looks like this:

Works reasonably well. Unfortunately many people try out the demo but do not sign up for the free trial. Missed opportunity for both sides. So I am going to combine these buttons to one button that will say 'Try it out now'. User that try out Project Hours will go through a short wizard to setup a demo account. In this way, everybody that tries out the system, basically gets a free trial immediately.

To be continued..

vrijdag 20 september 2019

Integration with Google Calendar

On request of customer I am working on integrating Project Hours with Google Calendar. Work has been progressing nicely and a fully functional demo is available on the project hours test site: Google Calendar in Project Hours. What it does is that every time hours are saved in Project Hours via  the web interface or mobile app, an entry is created in a specified Google Calender. Only one (company) calendar per organisation can be specified.

In this way, a dashboard with work items is created that can be used for planning for example.

I am thinking of adding a feature where users can specify their own Google calendar for a per user overview.  Or an integration the other way around: use Google Calendar to register hour entries in Project Hours. I have investigated this and it looks like the only way to do this is to create a Chrome plug-in that adds Project Hours menu items to the Google Calendar web page. But first we are going to do some testing and release this to the Project Hours production environment. To be continued..

vrijdag 1 februari 2019

New Project Hours UI banner and landing page design live!

Today I published the new Project Hours look and feel to the live site
For a while I had felt that the design of the web site had become somewhat stale, no colours, only white and gray. To change that, the company banner on every page has been brought in line with the design of the landing pages (see image below). Thanks to Vanessa Lappenschaar-Berg for design tips!
I hope that the new design will lead to a higher conversion rate on the Google Ads.

There are no functional changes in this release. I did make a change to the way caching of data is handled, there has been a case of session data mix-up between two users of different organisations (very scary, should never happen again!)

For those interested: I added the setting 'OutputCacheLocation.None' to the MVC outputcache attribute on every MVC controller to make sure no pages are cached server-side that could cause data mix-up between users:
  [OutputCache(NoStore = true, Duration = 0, Location = System.Web.UI.OutputCacheLocation.None, VaryByParam = "*")]

The NoStore = true and Duration is 0 settings were already there, but apparently that was not enough.
More background info : StackOverflow Sessions Mixed ASP.NET and MVC Output cache set to None

Planned for the next release: add an auditing function to all changes to time entries so it is always possible to see what the entire history of a time entry has been. (Currently this must be done by restoring database backups, a lot of hassle).

That's all for now,

zondag 9 december 2018

Moved to Let's Encrypt certificates

Panic. Google Chrome gave certificate errors on https:projecthours.net Turns out Chrome is not accepting certain ssl certificates any longer. See: https://knowledge.digicert.com/alerts/ALERT2562.html

So I updated the Project Hours web site  to use a free Let's Encrypt certificate. Turns out it was quite easy to configure on Azure following this tutorial: https://www.tecklyfe.com/how-to-setup-lets-encrypt-ssl-certificates-for-an-azure-web-app/. And it there is an automated proces to renew the certificate every 90 days, which is great.

zondag 26 augustus 2018

Started on a new project: StudentSign

Last year, my son spent a year abroad on a highschool in Canada. We had to sign many documents that were emailed to us, especially because he was 16 at the time he went to Canada, so his parents' consent was needed often, for instance for a weekend trip around Canada, or a school canoeing trip.

Signing documents was a tedious process: print the document, sign on paper, scan the signed document and send an email back. It must be very time-consuming for student exchange organisations in this way, having to deal with all the emails with documents from students, parents and schools. It occured to me that there must be an easier way: digital signatures on documents stored in the cloud!

After a little bit of investigation I decided to build a platform on top of an existing digital signature platform. In this way, it is easier to get started and I can focus on the use case for signing documents for exchange students instead of reinventing the wheel by developing a new digital signature platform.

Current state of the project is that a sandbox experimental environment exists and that I am going to conduct interviews with organisations to validate the idea and find out if organisations really need this solution.  We can use the sandbox to experiment with documents, work flow and signatures.

A landing page with an overview of the project has been created:  https://studentsign.net