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Issue 3.1


OfficeTime 0.20

Issue: 3.1 (September/October 2004)
Author: Toby Rush
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,162
Starting Page Number: 9
Article Number: 3105
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Full text of article...

Getting paid by the hour means keeping track of how much time you spend on each task... one of those administrative tasks that seems like it ought to be simpler than it is. If your hourly job is computer related, an electronic billing clock can be a huge help.

OfficeTime is one of several such utilities available for Mac users. For the most part, these programs work the same way; you select which client or task you are currently working on, and click a button to start the clock ticking. When you are finished with the task at hand (or ready for a break, at least), you click a button to stop the clock. The program records how much time you've spent on each job, allowing you to easily add up your hours when the time comes to send the bill.

The differences in billing clocks show up in the extra features, though -- and after you've used one for a while, the extra features become pretty important.

OfficeTime's basic interface consists of a window for each job; the window shows a list of work sessions done for the job, and a big button in the upper left-hand corner to start or stop the clock. You can set up different categories of work, each with a different pay rate, and OfficeTime will show the billable amount alongside each session.

When it comes time to send out bills, OfficeTime offers the capability to create reports of any type: by job, by category, or for any span of dates. The program will automatically generate a grand total for the hours, as well as subtotals by month or week, according to your preference. Once hours have been billed, they can be hidden so they no longer factor into future totals and subtotals. Any report can be exported in tab-delimited format for importing into a database program, spreadsheet, or word processor.

Some of OfficeTime's sexier features include the capability to quickly grab a client name from your Address Book file. Also, it has the capability to publish any job's work history into iCal, giving you a quick way to see how you've been spending your time.

One of the chief limitations of OfficeTime is that the program must be running (and, therefore, the computer must be on and awake) during the entire work session. If you restart your computer while OfficeTime is running, you must re-launch OfficeTime and start the clock again. If the computer crashes or suffers a power failure, all record of the current session will be lost.

Most of the other limitations that come to mind when using OfficeTime have to do with invoicing: the lack of formatting tools to create nice looking bills, the lack of a feature for tracking client payments, and so forth. These seem like obvious omissions, but they are actually outside of OfficeTime's intended scope; in all fairness, the documentation points out the fact that OfficeTime assumes you already have a separate system in place for invoicing.

With the exception of sessions not surviving system restarts, OfficeTime does its job quite nicely. And, being only at version 0.20, we can certainly look forward to an extremely well-polished version 1.0 sometime soon.

End of article.