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Posts by Shawn Liu:

The New Harvest Timesheet

After months of hard work, we are thrilled to finally unveil the new Harvest Timesheet.

This new timesheet is a giant step forward from the previous version. The interface is redesigned from the ground up. We sweated over every pixel and interaction, down to the timer animation on the “Stop” button. The codebase has been rewritten from scratch, and the new timesheet now has a stronger and more reliable engine that will serve us well for years to come. We think you’re going to be pleased with the resulting product – a faster, simpler, smoother, and more powerful new Harvest Timesheet:

Continue reading…

New Harvest Timesheet – Coming Next Week!

There’s a brand new Harvest Timesheet coming your way next week. It’s faster, simpler, roomier, and better designed. Here’s a quick video demo of the new day view:

The new timesheet is completely re-written and re-imagined, driven by one goal: to make it faster and easier to track time.

From our customer research, we found that most people love the simplicity of our current timesheet. But there are a few fundamental problems: the project and task selectors can get long and make it hard to find things once you have too many projects, the timesheet becomes “stale” if you leave it open in your browser without manually refreshing, and if you use the day view (like most of us here), it’s a hassle to review your progress for the week. The new timesheet design solves these problems, and we believe you will be pleased with the new experience.

From a technical standpoint, the new timesheet is a necessary fresh start for our team. The code behind the current timesheet has served us well for the past six years, but it has become difficult to maintain and nearly impossible to enhance. We applied everything we learned from our new mobile timesheet to create fast, approachable code. The experience for customers is markedly improved, and the robustness of the code will allow future improvements to be delivered much more quickly.

We cannot wait to show you the fruits of our labor next week. We believe you are going to love how snappy everything feels, and we hope the faster timesheet means that you can spend less time tracking time, and more time on the important things.

9/26 Update: A couple of notes to clear up some confusion:

  • There will be a new timesheet week view. The new week view has been redesigned and rewritten from scratch, and will be just as fast and easy as the new day view.
  • Timestamps will be supported. The new timesheet is not taking away any feature you’ve grown used to. For those who prefer to track time based on start and end times, not only will you be able to continue doing so, we have made a couple of small but useful improvements to the interaction.

The New Harvest Mobile Timesheet

The new Harvest Mobile Timesheet is now ready for everyone! Here’s a short and sweet video to show you the highlights:

New Features: Team Status & Recent Tasks

There are many tweaks and improvements to the interface. The two most significant features are:

  • Team Status. This feature is built for project managers who are constantly asking, “what’s the team working on?” This page automatically refreshes itself with the latest information, a little touch that busy project managers would surely appreciate. Note: for this first version, you’ll need to be an admin to see Team Status.
  • Recent Tasks. Instead of choosing from a list of projects and tasks, you can now quickly select from a list of five most recent tasks. Once you start using it, you’ll be amazed at how much faster it is to start a timer in Harvest.

And a tip: you can use the new mobile timesheet from your computer or iPad by going to

Continue reading…

Harvest Mobile Timesheet, Beta

Since the beginning of this year, we have been working on an ambitious project to re-think and re-imagine the most critical part of Harvest: the timesheet. We’re close to having something to show you. The first piece that will be ready is the new mobile view, which you can now sign up for beta testing.

Overhauling Six Years of Technology

The Harvest timesheet you use today went through a redesign over two years ago. The code is about six years old (as old as our business), improved and patched up over the years. This time we are building a completely new timesheet from scratch.

There aren’t any major problems with the timesheet today. In fact, the most common feedback we hear from our customers is that they love Harvest’s simple and beautiful design. But we’re not satisfied with it. We, as designers and developers, have evolved over the years, so has the web as a platform, and its technology. We are not improving the timesheet just to make it new. We believe we can create an even simpler and faster experience.

Why Mobile?

For the new timesheet, we decided to start mobile. To us, it’s also the most interesting platform to design against: with its small screen and natural restrictions, we are forced to be more disciplined with what we can show and do on screen. We also believe that timesheet should be mobile; it’s an activity that should not be chained to your desktop, and the information should be simple, succinct and clear, at a glance, on a tiny screen.

Mobile is the least intrusive way to experiment with a new technology without affecting our customers. We’re using a radically different way of building the new mobile timesheet (based on Backbone.js) – Dee, our main developer for the new timesheet, will write a more in-depth article about how the new timesheet is built. There is a lot going on behind the timesheet’s deceptively simple user interface. The goal here is to make it super fast and responsive (by that, I don’t mean being responsive with the layout, but responsive in terms of feedback to the users).

Looking Ahead

The plan is to launch the new mobile beta, to test out the new design and technology. Our hope is that once you start using it, you won’t really notice the difference. It should be smooth and mostly familiar. The changes are subtle: lighter, simpler, clearer, with a couple of tweaks to make time entry even faster. The big changes are all happening behind the scenes. We will be writing a few blog posts to share with you what we did and learned.

We are excited about this project and cannot wait to share it with you.

Harvest Playback, Apr 21st Edition

We quietly launched the new WalkaboutNYC site this week. This will be our third year hosting this technology company walking tour. This time there’s going to be a RSVP system for you to plan a walking schedule (coming soon). A huge thank-you to our Walkabout team: Karen, Naama, Kim and Joschka for their good work!

This past week, we refined a project that will be open for beta sign-up this coming week. T.J. published a blog post about the lessons from our recent upgrade to Ruby 1.9.3 and it’s making the rounds in the Ruby community.

Links from the past week, on Co-op:

  • This Ruby Certification looks totally lagit.
  • Our good friend, Saha, launched his new project, CollabFinder this week!
  • I haven’t read it yet, but Patrick said this is a must-read: Forest Service may blow up frozen cows in cabin.
  • Some of us parents at Harvest thoroughly enjoyed this: Planet Earth – Narrated by Kids.
  • We’re not sure what to make of these new Siri commericials with celebrities.
  • And: animated gif of the week.

There you have it. Hope you have a wonderful week ahead, and see you soon!

Harvest Playback, April 14th Edition

Things got done this week: Barry and T.J. pushed through an important system update; Warwick doubled the memory for our primary database servers; Dee, Patrick, Matthew and Samara made great progress for a project that will launch for beta soon; Kim and Joschka are making the final push for WalkaboutNYC‘s new site (coming this week!). On top of all that, our new junior devs are getting started on an important integration. Phew…

Discussed this week on Co-op:

  • Warwick urges us to take 15 minutes to watch this fascinating video about Caine’s Arcade.
  • Our latest project requires testing on several platforms. I count six.
  • Do you like cats?
  • Doug Fales talks about his first program on Tech Time: drawing a clown face on a 40×80 grid using AppleSoft BASIC.
  • Google as a BBS, built with Javascript, HTML and CSS. (via Jon)
  • “Potholes fill themselves when Cory Booker walks by. #CoryBookerStories” Our new, favorite Twitter meme, after Mayor Booker’s heroic act of rescuing a woman from fire. (via Patrick)
  • Our Rdio playlist this week: “The Movies”.
  • We can’t decide which should be the animated gif of the week: Tyson vs Evan.

There you have it. Here’s to a fun and fruitful week ahead. See you soon!

Harvest Playback, April 7th Edition

This was an unusual week. On Wednesday we had a film crew over at Harvest HQ all morning. We were filmed for a video customer story for Voxel, the awesome hosting company Harvest depends on. Work went on as usual, except that we had cameras following us as if we’re in a reality TV show.

Our product team made great progress this week: an important system security update will be deployed this upcoming Wednesday, the Backbone.js project I mentioned last week is going strong (hope to have a beta release this month), and we’re about to begin an exciting integration, which you’ll be hearing soon.

A week’s worth of random findings, from our Co-op stream:

Friday was an important day for Jonathan Lane, who checks into Harvest each day from Mayne Island, BC, Canada (if you plan to visit, he asks that you first watch this video). Jon was a happy Harvest customer, and joined our support team one year ago. These days he leads up the Fireteam and diagnose potential bugs reported by our customers. We’re lucky to have the amazing Jon on our team!

There you have it. Hope your coming week is smooth, interesting and productive. See you soon.

Harvest Playback, March 30th Edition

We know. We’ve been a little sparse on the blog lately. Aside from taking a needed break last week to hack, we have been busy improving Harvest. Our product folks are split into three teams: one working on a big feature that is ready for an internal alpha next week, one pushing through a couple of big system updates (the recent Ruby upgrade and an upcoming security patch), and one team dedicated to squashing bugs and improving minor interactions in Harvest. We believe in continuously improving the application – so you, the customers, can have a smoother and better experience.

One little tidbit to share about the big project we’re working on: it’s using CoffeeScript and Backbone.js, both created by our fellow NYCers. It’s going to be cool, we promise.

Now, a roundup of the curious and interesting from Co-op:

There you have it. We had another fun, interesting and rewarding week. Looking forward to the next! Talk to you soon.

Harvest Playback, March 24th Edition (Hack Week)!

This past week was our first Harvest Hack Week of 2012. Our team took three days off from the normal project schedule to hack on side projects and experiment with new technology. On Friday, we had a one-and-a-half hour presentation on the projects: two mobile web apps using Backbone.js, one Rdio integration, a Chrome extension, an embeddable JS tool, and an experiment with our system logs and stats. We also had a few people who took the opportunity to learn programming on Code Academy.

We’re super excited about the Hack Week projects! In the coming weeks, some of these will be released to the public, some will be in open source form, and some will become “core” projects (as in, made into the Harvest application). We will share some of the lessons learned on Tech Time, our recently released engineering blog.

In between the hacking and fixing small bugs from the recent big Ruby upgrade (for a faster, more stable and secured Harvest), we bantered on Co-op:

There you have it. We’ve had an exhilarating and productive week at Harvest! See you next week.

Harvest Playback, March 16th Edition

March Madness is upon us and we made a special Rdio playlist to go with it!

This week, a bunch of Harvesters travelled back from SXSW, and we have a few more cool comic strips to share with you (by our designer, Kim Ku). Barry, T.J. and Warwick have been working hard to prepare for the big Ruby upgrade this Saturday. Oh, and Harvest for Mac is now the number 1 top free app (in the Business category) in the Apple App Store, and received a 9/10 review on AppStorm!

A roundup of Co-op musings from the past week:

There you have it. Another productive and crazy week at Harvest. Have a great weekend and see you next week!