Wrapping Up the Week

2009-03-19 20:00:00 -0400


The last two weeks have seen a ton of development work here at Zetetic. We’ve been working to cut over one of our bigger client’s single-sign-on systems to a new location, we’ve built new features into the Strip beta (update coming soon, promise!), and we’ve completed a pile of performance, stability, and maintenance improvements for Tempo, our time tracker.

I should say that a lot of this work was made possible by an extra pair of hands; we’ve recently brought Bret Morgan onto our team as a developer. He’s been doing a lot of great Rails development work on Tempo and helping out with testing and Q&A for Strip.

Without going into all the changes we’ve made in Tempo, there are two I’d like to highlight:

Message Handler Stability

Tempo provides our customers with various ways to log time remotely and start timers, and our message handler is responsible for scooping up email and Twitter messages. We did some tweaking that dramatically improves its ability to handle the unexpected (you wouldn’t believe the weird stuff that comes in from MS Exchanges and Outlook systems), touches up its ability to respond to erroneous messages, and ensures that Message Handler keeps it up. We had some older daemonizing code in there, and ripped it out in favor of the Looper module we posted to Github recently. We’ve been using Looper in PingMe’s handlers for quite some time now, it was time to gemify it and use it in Tempo.

Tag Operations Improved ++bajillion

Sometimes you need to re-name your tags in Tempo, sometimes you need to add a tag like ‘oracle’ to everything tagged ‘apex’, and sometimes you just need to delete a tag from all of the entries in the current report. To provide this capability we added the Batch Tag interface, and it got the job done, but it was horribly slow. We got down and dirty with the SQL and updated our tag caching strategy to get it right. Operations on hundreds and hundreds of entries that used to take really long times (often leading to time-outs, I’m sad to say) are now complete within a second or two.

The batch tags interface still needs work, I will concede. We’re not entirely happy with the UI itself and expect to overhaul it soon.

We are planning to roll out these updates and more on Monday night EDT, and we’ll publish a full list of improvements made once it’s complete.

So let’s talk Strip. A number of people are already finding that the simple Categories → Entries navigation can be a little restrictive. We’re working on a number of features to allow for easy re-categorization of Entries, but there are two new features that will make accessing your data a lot easier:

Recents

Simple idea, extremely convenient, a tab displaying the most recent entries you’ve opened up:

I use this more than the Categories → Entries navigation already.

Search

Sometimes I just don’t remember where I put something, and I don’t really want to figure it out, I just need the information, and I need it now. I also tend to think that perfect taxonomies are a thing of fantasy, and I get annoyed at software that expects me to be a perfect person. Accordingly, the new Search interface allows me to start typing the name of an Entry, or any data I’ve stored in Strip and it will pull up any matching Entries:

I think you can expect to see these new features among others in the next version of the Strip beta early next week. Thanks for all the great feedback, and keep it coming. If you’ve recently e-mailed us about joining the beta, or you’d like to join the beta, be sure to send us your device’s UDID to support@zetetic.net. The Ad Hoc Helper app (free) will actually take care of the details for you.


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