Thoughts on Tracking

As part of our development we want to produce a template that both stands alone as an application but that can also be taken apart, modified, and used in pieces to enhance your own applications. As part of that we are introducing new ideas and techniques we hope will be of use to you in one of those models.

Tracking is a new concept we have been working with and we want your feedback on our thinking so far. In our template you can choose to personally track any document and by doing so you will be able to see that document and its updates in a filtered “tracking” view. This could also be used with notifications.

How is this different from “favorites”, which we also have in the template and can also be set on a document by document basis? Well, favourites are a “toggle”. I mark a document as a favorite because I want to continually go back and revisit it, I don’t usually “unfavorite” a document once favorited. I favorite it because I want to permanently be able to go back to it. We do have a favorites view in the template that shows all favorited documents but favoriting can soon become a thing that has to be managed by itself.

Tracking is different in a few ways but primarily because we will have timers on tracked documents allowing you to track them for a week, a month, or indefinitely, for example. That way documents will automatically stop tracking after a set period without you having to go in and manage them. The thinking behind “tracking” and “favoriting” a document is also different.

I might want to follow a document for a short period of time or just stay aware of updates to it but it’s not actually a favorite document. Some examples:

  • Someone posts a question and I’m interested in the upcoming answers but only for a few days so I would track that document for a week. I don’t want to favorite it since by itself it’s not useful and I don’t yet know if the responses will be useful.
  • I have a project launch coming up and I want to track the task list that has been published for that launch but just for the launch period, then I want to stop tracking it. It’s only of higher priority to me for the period of time that the launch is happening.
  • There is a long ongoing thread that has been running for some time. I’d like to be able to check it regularly to see if there are updates but it’s not a “favorite” in the sense that I find it valuable enough to continually revisit, I just don’t want it lost.

These are all examples where tracking differs from favoriting. In the survey at the bottom of this blog we are asking questions about tracking and our intended approach. Technically it’s quite a challenge and we want to make sure our understanding of its usefulness is right.

Next we come to behaviour. How do you choose to track for a period of time. Our original idea was to have one click for “one week”, two clicks for “one month”, and three clicks for “permanently on”. Sample icon images that will change as you click are shown below.

The alternative to a one-click, two-click, three-click toggle is to have the one click display a option choice with the “one week”, “one month” , “forever” options which avoids having to click multiple times but requires more precise selection of an option which is often difficult on the iPhone.

Please go here to take our brief 6 question survey and give us your feedback on “Tracking”

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