New Release Today – Drag and Drop Dashboards and More!

Today we’ve launched a brand new release for RescueTime.  Much of what we’ve done since the last release is “under the hood” – with a focus on making the site faster and more robust.  But there are a few bits that are worth reporting that might give you a glimpse into what we have in store for you soon.

  • Drag and Drop Dashboard: Every time we’ve added anything to the dashboard or shifted anything around, there has always been a vocal minority of folks who complained– and with good reason.  Everyone has a different idea of what a dashboard should contain and how it should be organized.  As of today, you now have drag and droppable elements on your dashboard.  Just grab the header of any graph block and move it around to wherever you want.  Or, if you don’t care to see it– minimize the graph using the “-” button in the upper right of the graph.This is an important step for our next release that will allow you to add literally any graph/visualization in RescueTime to your dashboard.  Is the most important thing for you to know how much time you spend in Email?  You can add email time for you or your group to your dashboard.  Would you rather know how much time you spend in all design tools?  You can add that graph to your dashboard.  As we add new and interesting ways to look at your RescueTime data, we hope to give people the ability to focus on the data that is most critical to them!
  • Data Export (a popular feature request!) – This feature is available to premium (paid) accounts only and can be accessed from the list view.  We’ve added the ability to export your RescueTime data for a given period in CSV format.  This can allow you data junkies out there to grab all of your data for a day, month, or year and visualize it any way you like.   Right now it just exports app/site name and duration– let us know if you’d like to have other data (like tags/categories).
  • SPEED – A huge priority of this release was making the app FASTER.  Sometimes it’s not gratifying shaving tenths of a second off here and there, but there is an armada of studies showing that when an app gets faster, users get happier.  (note: the last few days before the release were actually unusually slow due to a large influx of new traffic/users– for those of you who have experienced this, we apologize).

The next release is going to focus very heavily on our business/team customers (but will certainly benefit individual users as well).  With that in mind, please don’t be shy about dropping us a line and letting us know how we could better serve your team or (if your team isn’t using RescueTime) what features we could offer that would be valuable.  We have a feature suggestion/discussion area here or you can always use our contact form.

6 Comments on “New Release Today – Drag and Drop Dashboards and More!”

  1. Balaji Dutt says:

    Interestingly, you haven’t spoken about the new “Summary” on the dashboard.

    I do like it but am wondering if I could get some more control over it. For example I initially had my top Tag flagged as going down since I had clocked 5 hr 40 mins this week instead of 5 hr 46 mins for the same period last week. Honestly, that’s not a big enough difference for me that I want to see it on the summary. Or maybe you guys had a different view on the summary block in which sorry for approaching it the wrong way.

  2. Marty Alchin says:

    Boo. I guess I’m glad to hear that you guys finally added a data export feature, but it seems you’re missing the point. The data generated by the desktop app should be *my* data, like it says on the dashboard screen. I was willing to tolerate it when data export was simply an unwritten feature, but by making it available only to paid subscribers, you’re literally holding my data ransom: I can’t get at the data I generate unless I pay you for the privilege.

    That’s more a high-level philosophical point, though. My own frustration boils down to this: I need to pay you in order to do things with my data that your software isn’t capable of. People should be paying for services beyond what they can do for themselves, not the other way around. RescueTime has plenty of features that most people can’t accomplish on their own, and charging for those is perfectly fine, but why should I have to pay in order to do for myself what you guys can’t do for me? And I don’t mean that I just want better graphs and things. I’d like to be able to tie my app usage data into other data I collect about my daily life. I shouldn’t have to pay for RescueTime in order to do something that has nothing to do with its services.

    Of course, this is all moot anyway, since I’m assuming (based on previous correspondence with RescueTime staff) that the CSV export is actually just the same aggregate data available on the app list view anyway. Raw data would include start and stop times for each app used (which is what I’m really after), but I expect the CSV export only contains totals for the given timeframe. If you’re going to charge people for their own data, you should at least be selling them the data they actually generated. Your aggregations are convenient, but the insight to be gained from them is limited because data gets lost in the process.

    Pardon my frustration, but what I’d love more than anything else is a desktop app like yours that simply dumps out raw data for me to work with. In the absence of an equivalent, RescueTime is the next best option. Unfortunately, obstacles like these still make it difficult to get real value out of th eservice. I know it’s too much to ask for you to open the source to your data collector, but if you could at least provide *real* data for *everybody*, it’d be great.

  3. Tony Wright says:


    Thanks for the insightful comment!

    First of all, we do want to make full/raw data available in an easily consumable way instead of the CSV of the summary data we show (for premium customers). There is a TON of data here, obviously– we’re already pushing the limits of the data processing we can do with the hardware we have. If we add more, it costs more (irrespective of the time it’d take to actually code up the data processing and expose the feature).

    Depending on how geeky you are, you might consider fiddling with the raw log files stored on your computer. They are YML (similar to XML)– not quite importable into Excel, but if you had some light coding skills, you could probably do some magical things with it.

    I’m not sure that I buy into the idea that we’re holding your data hostage. There are tons of apps out there (web and client) that can’t export some/all of their data or make it really really hard (webmail & photosharing being notable example). What percentage of customers could successfully move from Hotmail to Gmail? From SnapFish to Flickr? This (for most, I think) is less of a decision of whether we share data and more of a decision around whether the feature is valuable enough for majority of our users to prioritize building it before improving the product/business in other ways. Add to that the fact that the raw data is sitting on your computer and the fact that we’re providing you a free service…. I dunno.

    Regarding the more philosophical point– that we’re charging you to do something that we aren’t able to do… That’s a good point. The unfortunately business reality of any freemium/software-as-a-service app like ours is that we have to put up a “pay-wall”. Some apps have 30-day free trials, after which the software stops working. Some have free “lite” versions. Any way you slice it, it’s the business owners making decisions to hold the RIGHT number of things from the free users so that 1-5% of them are incented to upgrade. Any time a new feature comes up, we discuss whether it should be a free feature… The discussion centers around whether the feature provides immediate value for the new user, whether it’s a “power user” feature, and whether paying customers would want it enough to further incentivize them to buy the product. For these reasons, data export does not seem like a free feature to us.

    The reality for our particular business is that we’re a funded startup. We’ve been 3 people up until a month ago, when we hired a 4th (a 5th will come on in January). We have some funding in the bank and our revenue is growing at a fabulous rate (yay, especially in these gloomy economic times). But we are not profitable (we are spending more than we’re making– almost entirely on salaries) and the founders are currently making dramatically less than they’ve ever made (or could make) at any “real” job. Our foremost responsibility (to ourselves, our investors, and our customers) is to get to the point where our company is making more than it’s spending. That means prioritizing features that are exciting/important for people who are willing to pay, it means withholding stuff from free customers, and it means NOT prioritizing features that don’t “move the needle” for a big slice of our customers. If we thought we could give everything away and put out a digital tip jar and make a living, we’d do it!

    All that being said, expect us to (hopefully only occasionally) make wrong decisions! 🙂

    You may or may not agree with any of the above, but I wanted to give you some insight into our thinking/company. Thanks for the thoughts, sorry for the longwindedness on my part, and (If you’re in the States) have a good holiday!

  4. Gene says:

    > I’m not sure that I buy into the idea that we’re holding
    > your data hostage. There are tons of apps out there that
    > can’t export some/all of their data or make it really really
    > hard (webmail & photosharing being notable example).

    While I agree with your main point, I don’t think these examples support your argument. For photosharing I’m using a service to “mirror” my local pictures in a place and UI more convenient for sharing. I have all my photos on my camera/computer/etc so the same need doesn’t exist for the user.

    And with webmail, I can export every single Gmail msg in my account to a local computer in a few mintutes.

    > Add to that the fact that the raw data is sitting on your
    > computer and the fact that we’re providing you a free
    > service…. I dunno.

    Free you say? You don’t value our usage data? We also give you pageviews, unique visits, and rows in your user table.

    I see both sides of this argument. I would like to be able to pull my own dataset in RT too, but if its an expensive service then you can’t expect to be a charity.

    However, I do think that you leave yourselves open to a competitor if you put up a pay wall between users and “their” usage data. I think it would be more appropriate for the wall to be placed in front of the group/enterprise features and try to keep the single-user offering as flexible as possible to encourage growth.

  5. Tony Wright says:


    Heh, if you notice, I didn’t say “you can’t get your data out of gmail/snapfish/etc”. I asked how many users could move between one or the other. If you’re geeky enough, you can. If you set it up right (a la your mirror), you’re golden. Do 99% of the users have a hope of easy portability? Nope. RescueTime is not dissimilar– the raw data files are on your drive in kinda-readable and VERY-parsable YML files. Help yourself! It’s your data.

    Regarding valuing our free users– of course we do. Sure, it pads our numbers. We get great feedback from free users. But in the value equation, I think avid RescueTime users (free AND paid) are getting a pretty damn good deal. I think free users of any service have some basic rights, but I’m not sure super-easy data portability is among them. I prefer to let capitalism sort it out. We offer X (raw data files to do with what you want), we don’t offer Y (1-click data export of all data), and the price is Z (free or cheap).

    “However, I do think that you leave yourselves open to a competitor if you put up a pay wall between users and “their” usage data.” True, though I think history shows that data portability is a burning issue for VERY few people. IPods/ITunes are doing just fine. Facebook is doing just fine. As a business, we’re trying to be responsive to our customers rather than guessing what they want… I can count the number of people who have requested data portability on 1 hand. Once I gave them the location of their local log files, most of ’em we’re satisfied (coincidentally, most of them were either hackers themselves or had a software-dev department at their disposal– either way, parsing YML files was no problem).

  6. Gene says:

    I guess my comments were more limited to data extract rather than about portability, sorry if I veered from the point of this discussion. (But FYI it’s very easy for a layman to migrate mail on/off gmail from other accounts via IMAP access)

    Also I think I phrased it awkwardly, I was trying to say that with Flickr who cares if I can’t easily get my data back out? I put it there in the first place so I assume I already have it.

    > though I think history shows that data portability is a
    > burning issue for VERY few people.

    My guess is that RT’s user base is much more concerned about this issue than Facebook’s or iTunes’, but from your experience it sounds like I could be guessing wrong. And I get your point that if RT is the next big player in this space you can afford to lose a few powerusers here and there to niche products that serve their specific needs better.

    And to clarify: I enjoy the free RT service, it offers everything I need and most of what I want. This product rocks. My opinion is that the export feature is something that should be free, especially if limited to just app/duration, but IANASE*.

    From what I’ve seen on the intertubes Joe has been talking up a plug-in architecture, and with other folks already hacking Applescripts and Linux shell scripts for RT I’m sure the user community will be able to fill in any gaps.

    * se=successful entrepreneur