timedot format

Timedot - hledger’s human-friendly time logging format

Timedot is a plain text format for logging dated, categorised quantities (of time, usually), supported by hledger. It is convenient for approximate and retroactive time logging, eg when the real-time clock-in/out required with a timeclock file is too precise or too interruptive. It can be formatted like a bar chart, making clear at a glance where time was spent.

Though called “timedot”, this format is read by hledger as commodityless quantities, so it could be used to represent dated quantities other than time. In the docs below we’ll assume it’s time.

A timedot file contains a series of day entries. A day entry begins with a non-indented hledger-style simple date (Y-M-D, Y/M/D, Y.M.D..) Any additional text on the same line is used as a transaction description for this day.

This is followed by optionally-indented timelog items for that day, one per line. Each timelog item is a note, usually a hledger:style:account:name representing a time category, followed by two or more spaces, and a quantity. Each timelog item generates a hledger transaction.

Quantities can be written as:

  • dots: a sequence of dots (.) representing quarter hours. Spaces may optionally be used for grouping. Eg: …. ..

  • an integral or decimal number, representing hours. Eg: 1.5

  • an integral or decimal number immediately followed by a unit symbol s, m, h, d, w, mo, or y, representing seconds, minutes, hours, days weeks, months or years respectively. Eg: 90m. The following equivalencies are assumed, currently: 1m = 60s, 1h = 60m, 1d = 24h, 1w = 7d, 1mo = 30d, 1y=365d.

There is some flexibility allowing notes and todo lists to be kept right in the time log, if needed:

  • Blank lines and lines beginning with # or ; are ignored.

  • Lines not ending with a double-space and quantity are parsed as items taking no time, which will not appear in balance reports by default. (Add -E to see them.)

  • Org mode headlines (lines beginning with one or more * followed by a space) can be used as date lines or timelog items (the stars are ignored). Also all org headlines before the first date line are ignored. This means org users can manage their timelog as an org outline (eg using org-mode/orgstruct-mode in Emacs), for organisation, faster navigation, controlling visibility etc.

Examples:

# on this day, 6h was spent on client work, 1.5h on haskell FOSS work, etc.
2016/2/1
inc:client1   .... .... .... .... .... ....
fos:haskell   .... ..
biz:research  .

2016/2/2
inc:client1   .... ....
biz:research  .
2016/2/3
inc:client1   4
fos:hledger   3
biz:research  1
* Time log
** 2020-01-01
*** adm:time  .
*** adm:finance  .
* 2020 Work Diary
** Q1
*** 2020-02-29
**** DONE
0700 yoga
**** UNPLANNED
**** BEGUN
hom:chores
 cleaning  ...
 water plants
  outdoor - one full watering can
  indoor - light watering
**** TODO
adm:planning: trip
*** LATER

Reporting:

$ hledger -f t.timedot print date:2016/2/2
2016-02-02 *
    (inc:client1)          2.00

2016-02-02 *
    (biz:research)          0.25
$ hledger -f t.timedot bal --daily --tree
Balance changes in 2016-02-01-2016-02-03:

            ||  2016-02-01d  2016-02-02d  2016-02-03d 
============++========================================
 biz        ||         0.25         0.25         1.00 
   research ||         0.25         0.25         1.00 
 fos        ||         1.50            0         3.00 
   haskell  ||         1.50            0            0 
   hledger  ||            0            0         3.00 
 inc        ||         6.00         2.00         4.00 
   client1  ||         6.00         2.00         4.00 
------------++----------------------------------------
            ||         7.75         2.25         8.00 

I prefer to use period for separating account components. We can make this work with an account alias:

2016/2/4
fos.hledger.timedot  4
fos.ledger           ..
$ hledger -f t.timedot --alias /\\./=: bal date:2016/2/4
                4.50  fos
                4.00    hledger:timedot
                0.50    ledger
--------------------
                4.50

Here is a sample.timedot.