Fuel Collective – Eon review

time tracking software for the Macintosh
Photo of Fuel Collective – Eon
$29.95

Freelances who routinely bill by the hour know that it’s no longer good enough to try to get by with back-of-an-envelope guestimates of how much time they’ve spent on a particular project; especially when time is quite literally money.

There’s no shortage of time-tracking applications, but in our experience most of these have followed the money and are now geared more towards large companies or groups of freelances working together on complex projects. Eon, a Mac-based time-tracking program from Fuel Collective, handles things a little differently and is able to work as a standalone timer or integrate with a range of popular project management, time tracking and invoicing web services, making it suitable for everyone.

For solo freelances who need to track the time they spend on a project, Eon appears as a little bedside clock-style display in the Finder’s title bar, or in its own dedicated window. To get started just add a project, give it a name and then start the clock. You can pause the timer, round it up or down, re-set to the start, and if you step away from the machine and it goes into hibernation, when it wakes again, Eon will give you the option of winding back the clock to when the system started to sleep or continuing from where you are (come on, you know which one you should choose, right?).

You can add more projects and switch between them: Eon will stop the clock automatically but it’s up to you to re-start it. You can set up a shortcut key combination to toggle the timer on and off (there’s even an option to toggle it by shaking the computer, a bit of fun which we don’t entirely understand) and you can also set it to ask for an admin password when starting and stopping the timer.

But there’s another side to Eon courtesy of the way it can post information to a range of online services. Seventeen different ones are supported including Basecamp, Billings, Freshbooks, Free Agent and Unfuddle. Confident users won’t have too much trouble negotiating the setup, which differs depending on the service you’re using.

We signed up for a free Harvest account (www.getharvest.com) and although temporarily foxed by whether or not to include the ‘www’ in the setup, eventually worked it out (you don’t). Other services ask for more complex information – API keys for example – which casual users will find more difficult to work out. Once Eon is ‘talking’ with your chosen service, just click the timer in the status bar and choose Post To from the drop-down menu to send the time for the current job into the relevant project.

This lack of help isn’t a problem with the standalone version because it’s so intuitive. However, when you come to make Eon work with one of the online services, things get a bit sketchy and the fact that there’s no help and no manual makes the process frustrating. Sort that out, and Fuel Collective will have a smart time-tracking product that will appeal across the board to individuals working on their own or those collaborating via an online service.

Company: Fuel Collective


Verdict
Eon is a simple, neat, standalone time-tracking program that allows you to keep on top of multiple projects and switch quickly and easily between them. The ability to interface with various popular online time tracking, project management and web services is attractive, but until there's some solid documentation describing how the process works for each one, it'll continue to frustrate anyone who's not technically confident.