Who it's for
Anyone stuck at home having trouble staying productive! That includes people working from home, learning from home, or anyone just trying to keep busy.
With the COVID-19 Pandemic, more people than ever are working from home. Personally, we’ve noticed it increasingly hard to stay focused on our daily work, and have heard the same from friends and family. HourGlass aims to solve this unproductivity by putting our user’s time into their own hands, giving them a real sense of how they spend time online.
Once the global pandemic started, we noticed our friends and family who were now working remotely spending an incredible amount of time on their computer. This was because they were unable to separate work life and home life and it became muddled into one. Seeing that the main issue was the sheer amount of online distractions and nuances of the web, we set out to create a tool to help manage their productivity online and see exactly where their time online went.
What it does
Find out where you spend your time on Chrome! HourGlass breaks down your website usage and lets you see where your time goes. Know exactly which sites you spend time on the most, over days, weeks, and years! It also gives detailed analytics on when you are most active on chrome and even on the specific sites you visit. Chrome users can finally know how much time they waste online.
How we built it
We built the client side of the product using HTML, JS, CSS, and Bootstrap. There were also numerous local chrome APIs we had to integrate to make our extension work on chrome. On the server-side, we used Firebase ontop of a JS stack. This makes for an extremely scalable system.
Challenges we ran into
One of the main challenges we ran into was reducing the number of reads made to our server. Initially, we were writing the server anytime a user switched to a new site and this caused way too many reads for the number of test users we had. We then switched to a much more read efficient model where we would cache their tracking data, and only send it to the server during specified times and events.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
When we released the extension to our beta users, we were amazed to see that they immediately took into account the statistics that the extension gave them. They started to be more aware of the time the spent online, and in time started to spend more time with families. This fueled us evermore to continue with this project.
What we learned
There's a saying that carpenters use, "measure twice, cut once". We learned the hard way to "think twice, code once". Initially, we did not properly draw/map out how we wanted our extension to function and look. We ended up making many unnecessary revisions and ultimately went back to one of our initial designs. Thankfully we notice this early on in our development, so we had a Zoom meeting where we mapped out every feature we wanted and its execution. This enabled each of us to develop with a clear cut view of what we had in mind.
What's next for HourGlass
The team behind HourGlass truly believes that this is an essential productivity app for all chrome users. We would like to add features that enable us to accurately give productivity statistics based on the websites they browse and empower all computer users across the world to take control of their time again.
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