Category: Startups

Kimai – Open Source Time Tracking Tool

So far, I’ve always used “good old” spreadsheets for time tracking on projects. Custom ones I pimped up with some nifty formulae, but still just spreadsheets. Advantage: I can easily adjust them to any special needs anytime – be it the inclusion or exclusion of specific work or just a customization of the sheet’s design or layout. The price for this flexibility is the generally higher effort to track the time “manually” rather than using a specialized time tracking tool – which makes time tracking a tedious task.

Of course I’ve evaluated many proprietary and open source time tracking tools over the years, but so far, none of them managed to fully convince me.

Today, I’ve just stumbled over Kimai – an open source, web-based time tracking tool written in PHP. And so far, Kimai looks promising. Installation is dead easy – just make sure you’ve compiled PDO support into PHP (Gentooers: enable the PDO flag for dev-lang/php and remerge php), else the nice web-based installation wizard will abort without printing any error message.

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be presented a very clean, intuitive GUI where you can setup customers, projects and tasks. On the top-right there’s a big push-button to start/stop/pause the time tracking.

During my quick evaluation, I haven’t found the functionality yet to export the timesheets, but as far as I know, such functionality will be provided by extensions that can be installed. Let’s see. [Addition 20091009: There’s a stats extension quick-hack for Kimai 0.8.x that can be used to list and print selected reports. To use it, simply download it, extract it in the extensions folder and navigate to {Kimai install folder}/extensions/stats/]

Here’s a screenshot of Kimai 0.8.1.890:

Kimai 0.8.1.890 Screenshot
Kimai 0.8.1.890 Screenshot

With the currently still very limited feature-set, Kimai doesn’t compete with full-grown project management solutions (I’ve recently seen a quick demo of a very sophisticated and cool, Django-based project management solution I’m not allowed to tell any details about yet). But it looks like a promising start. I hope the Kimai project will gain momentum, grow and mature as there’s definitely a need for open source time tracking tools – particularly web-based ones.

P.S. I haven’t had the time yet to audit Kimai’s source code, but if the orderly, clean GUI is any indication, it can’t be too bad.

Gentoo ebuild for Lx-Office ERP 2.6.0 beta 1

Finally, I’ve created Gentoo ebuilds for Lx-Office ERP 2.6.0 beta 1 and its dependencies. Lx-Office is a fork of the server-based open source accounting solution SQL-Ledger and customized for the German market (and to some extent, the Swiss and Austrian markets).

A screenshot of Lx-Office ERP 2.6.0 beta 1 showing the XUL menu:

Screenshot of Lx-Office ERP 2.6.0 beta 1 using the XUL menu

And here’s a flash video of Lx-Office ERP 2.6.0 beta 1 showing the XUL menu in action.

Lx-System (the company backing Lx-Office ERP) and LINET Services host a public demo of Lx-Office ERP 2.4.3 (user: demo, password: demo).

To install Lx-Office ERP 2.6.0 beta 1 on Gentoo, follow these steps:

1) Set up a local portage overlay (e.g. at /usr/local/portage), if you haven’t done so already.

# mkdir -p /usr/local/portage

In /etc/make.conf, set

PORTDIR_OVERLAY=/usr/local/portage

2) Download lx-office-erp-2.6.0_beta_p1-r1_plus_dependencies.tgz and extract it to your local portage overlay

# cd /usr/local/portage
# tar xzvf lx-office-erp-2.6.0_beta_p1-r1_plus_dependencies.tgz

3) In /etc/portage/package.keywords, add the line

www-apps/lx-office-erp ~amd64

(or ‘www-apps/lx-office-erp ~x86‘, depending on the architecture of your machine)

4) In /etc/portage/package.use, add the line

www-apps/lx-office-erp vhosts

5) Install Lx-Office ERP on your system by executing

# emerge -av lx-office-erp

Depending on your current portage settings and installed ebuilds, you may need to unmask additional ebuilds.

6) Use webapp-config to link your Lx-Office ERP installation to a specific host, e.g. by executing

# webapp-config -I -h localhost -d lx-erp lx-office-erp 2.6.0_beta_p1-r1

7) Follow the steps displayed on the screen to setup and configure Lx-Office ERP. Some of these steps might be automated in a later release of the ebuild.

8) Have fun using Lx-Office ERP on Gentoo! :)

(These ebuilds are sponsored by my company Printscreen GmbH, dedicated to the developers of Lx-Office ERP and Gentoo and released for free use under the terms and conditions of the GNU GPLv2 license.)

Ready, steady, go!

Refreshing. Innovative. New. Creative. The sky is the limit. Startup fever. Brian Haven:

This new job is ambiguous. I don’t have a job title. The company doesn’t have a name. At the moment, there are only three of us. We don’t know what this will become, we only have a general direction. My office will be at my house… in Austin… and in cyberspace on IM, Twitter, Facebook… To many, this recipe might spell fear. To me, it’s comfortable. I thrive in the unknown–no rules, no baggage, no momentum to pull us into mediocrity. We get to build this from scratch in a thoughtful and disciplined manner. It’s my opportunity to bring my engagement ideas to life and the perfect time to leverage my background to apply a design thinking approach to the way we, and our clients, do business.

I had the joy to experience the reviving entrepreneurial spirit at yesterday’s public beta launch party at the Wuala office in Zurich. And I experience it daily when working for my own company – Printscreen GmbH. A great feeling indeed, and inspiring others, too.

Aug 29, 2008: BlogCamp Switzerland 3.0 in Zurich

Note that this year’s Swiss BlogCamp, the BlogCamp Switzerland 3.0, will take place on the same date (August 29, 2008) as the Tag der Informatik (informatica08) and the tweakGrill, and at the same location (Technopark in Zurich), too! Of course, this is no coincidence :) No matter whether you’re a blogger or not (or plan to be, have been, are interested in the Swiss blogging scene, the web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, whatever etc. ;): Be there, I’m sure it will be an interesting event, again! (And attending the “Tag der Informatik” is a point of honor anyway :)

(Bloggy Friday will start at 8 PM, guess where ;)

BlogCamp Switzerland 3.0

[UPDATE 20080802: I probably can’t be there due to military service :( At rather short notice as they managed to send the march order to an address that doesn’t exist. No comment.]

August 29, 2008: tweakGrill @ informatica08

The innovative guys from tweakfest.ch will present what they call The first digital BBQ in Switzerland, aka the tweakGrill. It will take place on August 29, 2008, starting at 6 PM on the Turbinenplatz (that’s Zurich’s biggest place (*cough*) right in front of the Technopark building (which some call the “Swiss Silicon Valley” ;) in Zurich-West/entertainment).

According to the newsletter they’ll have several multimedia performances, serve sausages from USB-Grills (I wonder how that will scale ;) and open source beer brought to you by [project 21].

tweakfest group on Facebook

Flyer (PDF)

More information in German in this post on the tweakfest home page..

[UPDATE 20080802: I probably can’t be there due to military service :( At rather short notice as they managed to send the march order to an address that doesn’t exist. No comment.]

TechCrunch Meetup Zurich

Well, there are quite a few blog posts with reviews of the recent TechCrunch Europe Tour Meetup in Zurich already. Instead of writing an extensive review about it, I’ll thus try to keep it short.

Personally, I highly enjoyed the TechCrunch Meetup in the Bluewin Tower in Zurich West and the gathering in the “Besame Mucho” lounge afterwards and met many interesting people. I wasn’t quite ready for releasing news about my company Printscreen GmbH (iG) yet, but it was nonetheless a great opportunity to network and chat with other entrepreneurs, organizer Mike Butcher, some of the co-organizers and media people. All in all I had the impression that a lot is going on again in the Swiss IT/web startup community (not limited to the roughly 40 startups officially presenting).

So, many thanks to the organizers (TechCrunchUK, Wuala, Doodle, NewsCred, Sandbox) and sponsors who made this all possible! Of course I hope there will be a second edition of the TechCrunch Meetup Zurich soon (it was so well organized and such a nice event, I’d like it to become a recurring, regular event in the Swiss IT and startup scene).

Links to some other posts about the meetup (incomplete and in no particular order):

Citizen Space Zurich – home page up and more details

[UPDATE 20080720: See also the comment from Chris Messina (the co-founder of Citizen Agency, LLC (blog) and one of the two master minds behind the original Citizen Space in San Francisco)].

By now, the home page of the new coworking location “citizen space Zürich” (see my previous post) is up and gives some more details about the (currently) planned offers and pricing [1]:

An excerpt (in German):

[…] citizen space vermietet Arbeitsplätze an unabhängig arbeitende Menschen in den vier Meter hohen Räumen der ehemaligen Steinfelsfabrik in Zürich West. Tageweise, wochenweise oder unbefristet. Allein oder in Gruppen arbeiten? An fixen oder mobilen Tischen? In der Lounge? Alles ist möglich. citizen space ist von Montag bis Freitag von 9 bis 19 Uhr offen, ab 19 Uhr Barbetrieb oder Events, Infos auf www.citizen-space.ch
Tarife: Tagesticket für 30 Franken, Wochenticket für 170 Franken, flexible Monatsmiete für 450 Franken, fixe Monatsmiete mit Schlüssel für 680 Franken, Friendshipticket für 15 Franken pro Tag und Person.
Verpflegung: Kaffee, Getränke und Snacks im Haus. Take-outs, Restaurants und Bars in unmittelbarer Nähe. Zur Josefwiese oder zum Unteren Letten sind es drei Minuten zu Fuss. Öffentlicher Verkehr: Bahnhof Hardbrücke und Escher-Wyss-Platz befinden sich in drei Minuten Gehdistanz. […]

So basically, this boils down to:

  • Opening hours: Monday to Friday daily from 9 AM to 7 PM for work, after 7 PM, the bar opens or events are taking place
  • Offers and pricing:
    Day pass: 30 CHF (in about 30 USD, 19 EUR)
    Week pass: 170 CHF (167 USD, 105 EUR)
    Flexible monthly ticket: 450 CHF (441 USD, 279 EUR)
    Fix monthly ticket with an office key: 680 CHF (667 USD, 421 EUR)
    Friendship ticket: 15 CHF (15 USD, 9 EUR) per day and person
  • Coffee, drinks and snacks in-house (but there’s no hint whether these are included in the price of a pass)

At first sight, this looks quite pricey (more than double the price) compared to its namesake in San Francisco (citizenspace.us). Further, there doesn’t seem to be any “24h access”[2] option (not even for keyholders?) and whether coffee, drinks and snacks are included remains to be seen. Conceptually, there’s also a difference in that there are no free drop-ins (it costs 30 CHF for random drop-ins and 15 CHF for friends), but in addition to monthly tickets there are also weekly tickets. I wonder particularly what influence the “no free drop-ins” policy will have on the idea of mingling people (well, the mingling will probably be less spontaneous and less heterogeneous and coworkers likely more commercially oriented and less willing to contribute to the idea of coworking or do things for free. Which might well cost more in the end [3]).

BTW, office space in Zurich West isn’t as cheap as in less central and less trendy districts, but this also applies to many areas in SF. The thing that’s generally somewhat more expensive in Zurich is food and beverages.

Let’s see how this develops.. my guess is that these offers and prices aren’t carved in stone and will probably also depend on the feedback they get (i.e. on supply and demand). Will ask them ASAP..

Thumbs up for starting it, in the first place :)

[1] Please note that these figures have not been officially announced or confirmed yet. They’re just published on the public web site (which has not been announced yet either).

[2] Some coworking space providers even guarantee 24/7 access and are open for public access on Saturdays, too

[3] I’m currently reading a great book that, among others, deals with the very thin line between social norms and market norms. And it also discusses the (predictably irrational) appeal of anything that’s for “free” (knowledge that can be leveraged for marketing purposes and profit, of course). (Book: “Predictably irrational” by Dan Ariely; 2008; HarperCollins. I’ll probably post about it in more detail later..)

Citizen Space Zürich for Digital Nomads soon to arrive?

Finally, Zurich starts catching up with its partner city San Francisco (and other Californian cities like Berkeley, Stanford/Palo Alto etc.) in regard to shared workspace for so called “Digital Nomadsand the like: According to these great news, a “citizen space” will soon be opened at Heinrichstr. 267 in Zurich:

11.07.2008 13:19: Ich bin daran ein solches zu eröffnen:
NEW: citizen space zurich. start: 18. Juli 2008
Auf 150m2 und einer Raumhöhe von 4 Metern völlig flexibel arbeiten.
Mietpreise ab CHF 30.-. Freie oder fixe Plätze. Komplette Infrastruktur.
Reingehen – arbeiten, besprechen, relaxen.
Im Steinfelsareal, Heinrichstrasse 267, 8005 Zürich

and

16.07.2008 11:36: Hallo
Das citizen space Zürich eröffnet am 24.7.08, wer Interesse an weiteren Informationen hat, kann ein E-Mail an [see below] senden, die Informationen sind natürlich kostenlos. Gruss in die Stadt. JR

The e-Mail is info at type and more remove spaces dot ch. The homepage of type’n more: typeandmore.ch

I really like this new groove here in “my” neighborhood.

Looking forward to it! :)

P.S. The domain citizenspace.ch is registered already, I don’t know though whether this is related to the citizen space to be opened in Zurich. Let’s see..

(Source: Ronorp.net)

“Realising Dreams – strategies for deep design” by William Gosling

One of the about 30 something new books on my bookshelf – and a truly great one I just finished reading. Gosling gives a systematic insight into the matter of design and innovation. A very inspiring and useful, yet very concise framework!

“Realising Dreams – strategies for deep design” by William Gosling