English

Project and Time Reporting with Freedcamp and Power BI

There are many project management applications which you can use. Probably the best known is Microsoft Project, the very sophisticated business application which is used by big corporations with many ongoing projects and employees. However, Microsoft Project has so many features that a user needs tens of hours to manage it fully. This means that the app is too complicated (and also too expensive) for small business or personal projects. In addition, it is a desktop app and it cannot be used on mobile devices. Most users nowadays prefer web apps which do not need to be installed and updated on their devices.

To make things easier, many overviews of these apps have been written. I did some research on these articles two years ago to find the best application for my personal projects (like blogging, tutoring, language studying etc.). First I tried Trello. Despite being the most recommended application on the market, I had missed some features there (especially a time tracking) so I decided to delete my account and to try something else. My second choice was Freedcamp and I have been using this app since then. (Just a small note here: I do not want to say that Trello is a bad app, on the contrary, I admit that it has a very nice and intuitive user interface. It just is, like any other app, not ideal for everybody.)

This Spring, developers on Freedcamp have released a beta version of API which allows you to connect Freedcamp to another application. This brings a huge amount of new possibilities of using Freedcamp. In this article, I would like to show you how to use API to get data from Freedcamp and present them in another app. I have selected Power BI, a popular analytics app. Of course, you can select any front-end app you want (such as Tableau, Qlik, Microsoft Excel etc.)

To present data in a Power BI report, I have developed a simple .NET app. The app loads data from Freedcamp and stores them in an SQL database (hosted in Azure). You can see an example of one report in a picture below.

freedcamp-powerbi-1

There are two charts in the picture. The one on the top shows time spent on different projects this year (the columns show months and colours projects). The left down picture presents how many tasks of the projects have been closed this year. The table contains a list of recently finished tasks with an information if the task was closed in time or not.

And one more example. I created a customized Eisenhower matrix with three fields: the Do First field, the Schedule field and the In Case of Free Time. I also added the pie chart with a count of open tasks by project. As you can see, this article is one of two Do First tasks.

freedcamp-powerbi-2.PNG

As you can see, I use both tasks and time in my projects so I need to load projects, tasks and time records data.

Let’s look at the app. I will share the code of the app with a brief explanation.

Though I have experience with T SQL language, I used Entity Framework in the code (mostly to gain more experience with it). Entity Framework creates database structures (mostly tables, but indexes as well) and arranges data loading and saving as the application loads and saves objects instances. (In my opinion, Entity Framework allows extensive usage of LINQ and makes the code shorter and easier to read. On the other hand, it can make debugging much more challenging.)

Freedcamp uses an API key and an API secret to secure your data. If a user wants to have the API key with no expiration date, the API key with a current timestamp hashed with API secret has to be provided. The timestamp is generated by the GetTimestamp function and then encoded by Encode function. Both key and secret are loaded from the app.config file.

Summer Trip to Scotland

I made a summer trip to Scotland last year with a group of people. We made about 9 bike trips across Scotland. Here you can see a map of all our trips. You can see all my photos in my Flickr album.

The first trip was from Tinwald through Ae Forrest to Beattock. This locality is known for a lot of winter power plants, which have been built there recently.

Ae

Another beautiful place was Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.

Queen Elizabeth Forest Park

Scotland has a lot of very stylish stone churches. This one is in Kilmarnock.

The Church of Kilmaronock

The Beginning of Spring on Chlum Mountain

We had very sunny (but a little cold) weather last weekend. Here you can see some photos from Chlum Mountain (651 meters) that I took. Maybe you will like it.

Here you can see Manětín Brook. You can also check my photos from The Valley of the Manětín Brook from last year.

DSC04308

This used to be a nice log cabin. Unfortunately, it has been damaged. I do not know when or by whom.

DSC04313

DSC04318

Trip to the USA – part II

As I promised to you, I am presenting the rest of my photos from my USA trip. I hope you will like it.

The Statue of Liberty is maybe the most famous symbol of New York. Maybe not so many people know that it was built in France. It was a gift for Americans from Frenchmen. The statue is on Liberty Island and you can go there easily by a ferry. You can buy tickets to a pedestal of the statue and it is also possible to go on a top of the statue but it is necessary to buy a ticket in a several months advance.

DSC03693

This is a view from the pedestal. If you think that a wind is cold and strong on the ferry, it is nothing comparing to the wind on the pedestal. But of course, it is 40 meters high. Then you can go the Ellis Island to Museum of Immigration. You can there, for example, check if some of your ancestors immigrated to America.

DSC03711

Manhattan is connected with Long Island by two beautiful bridges – Brooklyn Bridge (the closer one on the photo) and Manhattan Bridge. You can walk across both of them.

DSC03723

First time I walked over Brooklyn Bridge. There is a nice walk path over it. This is a view of Manhattan from the beginning of the path.

DSC03732

This is little further. You can see iron ropes which are parts of the construction of the bridge.

DSC03736

This photo is really from New York, despite it looks like a photo of Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It is Washington Square Arch.

DSC03741

The next day I went from Brooklyn to Manhattan over the Manhattan Bridge. The view of Manhattan from this bridge is really amazing.

DSC03755

That was the last photo from New York because I went to Washington in the afternoon. It is a shame that I didn’t have time to see many interesting places – National Museum of Mathematics for example. But I take it as a reason to visit New York once more.

Washington also has an amazing park close to the centre. It is called Rock Creek Park. It is far less famous than Central Park. I must admit that I hadn’t heard about it before my trip. But it’s also really beautiful.

DSC03770

DSC03771

This is a monument in front of Union Station – the main railway and bus station of Washington.

DSC03778

The United States Capitol is (with White House) symbol of Washington. An almost every time we see a reporter in news speaking from Washington, he has The Caption in the background. The building is really extremely large and impressive.

DSC03788

DSC03790

If you want to see the Supreme Court of the United States, just cross a road in front of the Capitol. Just make sure you are crossing over a zebra crossing. Otherwise, you will be admonished by a policeman as I was.

DSC03792

This is how a typical Washington street look likes – I really liked lines of trees between houses and roads.

DSC03830

Quotations of Martin Luther King on black notices are very common in Washington – plenty people have them in gardens in front of their houses.

DSC03836

The Washington Monument had been wor’s tallest structure till 1889. It is 169 meters high and also very impressive.

DSC03866

Another building with large and tall grey columns National Gallery of Art. There are a lot of beautiful painting in the gallery and entrance is for free.

DSC03871

I would recommend you to visit the National World War II Memorial at night. Lights, a fountain and columns in the background create a very unique experience.

DSC03900

This place reminds another important American presient – it is the Lincoln Memorial.

DSC03906

And, of course, this is the White House.

DSC03920

And finally, few photos from Philadelphia. This is the City Hall.

DSC03936

And here is rest of my photos. I’ve planned extremely little time to spend in Philadelphia. I am definitely planning to visit this amazing city once more because this time I missed a lot of interesting and important places.

DSC03946

DSC03948

DSC03951

DSC03956