technology

Dream Calendar App: Visualizing Time

The main area of improvement I see for current calendar apps is the visualization of time. In my previous sketch, I’m representing my schedule with two clocks (one for AM and PM). The problem with this is that it doesn’t do a good job of communicating the continuity of time. There are a lot of things to consider. I found an excellent post by Doug McCune with lots of nuggets about this topic. . He begins by identifying two main challenges: continuity and personal context. Both of these are quite applicable to designing a good calendar app. He wraps up this section, saying:

He goes on to discuss various representations like line charts, circular charts, spiral charts, and more. He specifically addresses using two clocks to show a day’s worth of data and brings up its problems:

The biggest problem with the chart is the incorrect continuity. A single clock on its own isn’t a continuous range, it’s really only half a range. So the clock on the left is showing 12am – 12pm, but when you reach the end of the circle the data doesn’t continue on like the representation shows. Instead you need to jump over to the second clock and continue on around. It’s difficult to see the ranges right around both 12pm and 12am, since you lose context in one direction or another (and worse, you get the incorrect context from the bordering bubbles).

I recognize this, but I’m still on the fence as to whether this is enough to throw out the clock metaphor entirely. Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating read with great insights. Although his goals are different from mine, there are many things I can learn from his piece.

I also found a gallery of time-oriented visualizations that will hopefully spark some ideas as I continue to explore this calendar app idea.

Standard
technology

Dream Calendar App (Sketch)

Here’s a doodle of some ideas I’ve had in my head, based on my rant of current calendar apps. I’m exploring the use of clocks to show my busyness landscape. Although it gets a little awkward at the AM-to-PM transition, clocks are ubiquitous and easily interpreted. I’m using clocks also to show duration, which, by stacking, I can save space. So, each line on the grid represents up to two hours. Events with zero duration and all-day events should be treated differently.

20140313-134726.jpg

Standard
technology

Coffee Log Followup

Jeff Mueller wrote an amazing piece explaining the technical details of my use of MultiMarkdown tables, Launch Center Pro, and Day One. He even wrote an application that helps with the encoding. Check it out.

These kind of logs can be expanded to apply to anything that you want to track: books, movies, beer, meals, etc. Josiah Wiebe has a pretty good list of actions.

Now that Publish by Day One has been released, you may see more of these entries on display on that platform. Day One has done a spectacular job of reducing the friction of putting content online with beautiful presentation. Here’s a slightly cropped version of my first coffee log post:

coffeelog

Shawn Blanc beat me to the punch, which is slightly unfair because he was a beta tester:). I did adapt some of the changes he made into my Coffee log action, including adding a title to the entry, adding a “Roaster” row, and moving the tags to the bottom.

Standard

20140301-154758.jpg

photography

Plane and building

Image
technology

Day One Templates Using Launch Center Pro

Day One is a great system for journaling and note-taking. One of things I use it for is to keep track of the different coffees I buy and brew. Since this is something I track regularly, I’ve developed a method to pre-populate a Day One entry with a standard structure for my coffee journal. Here’s what it looks like:

Coffee Log

Day One Templates

Using an action to launch Day One with some pre-populated text, combined with prompts and the new list prompts, makes for an easy way to enter some structured content in your journal. Let me explain.

The structure for the entry is stored in a Launch Center Pro action. Here’s what that looks like:

dayone://post?entry=%23coffee%20%23log%0A%0A%7CCoffee%7C%7C%0A%7C%3A---%7C%3A---%7C%0A%7COrigin/Name%7C[prompt:Origin/Name]%7C%0A%7CBrew%20method%7C[list:Brew Method|AeroPress|Chemex|Drip|Espresso|French Press|Pour Over|Other]%7C%0A%7CBrewer%7C[prompt:Who brewed it?]%7C%0A%7CRating%7C[list:Rating|★☆☆|★★☆|★★★]%7C%0A%7CNotes%7C[prompt:Notes]%7C

Each field in the table is a prompt, so when I’m ready to log my coffee, I launch this action, answer brief survey, and voila!

Origin Entry Method List Brewer Rating Notes Raw Markup

 

You’ll notice for the brew method and rating, I’ve used a list prompt. This works well since the answers come from a limited set. And the final frame shows the raw markup, which renders as a tidy table in Day One.

This concept can be applied for any type of entry you’re creating on a regular basis that has a defined structure. The new Launch Center Pro prompts afford a nice front-end for text input. You can extend this idea for other notes you want to put into your journal, using Launch Center Pro as the mechanism for polling and input. For example, I have another action which is scheduled to launch every evening that asks me what I had for each meal of the day.

Standard