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TrackRecord is a Ruby On Rails application which lets users enter and analyse timesheets, based around a framework of customers, projects and tasks. It may be useful for sole traders and small businesses.

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README.rdoc

Welcome to TrackRecord v2.30

TrackRecord is a timesheet system written for the Ruby On Rails web development framework. More information, including a link to the most recent live source repository, is available at:

This software is released under a BSD License. See the LICENSE file for details along with:

Detailed lists of changes in each version are in 'CHANGELOG.rdoc'. Technical documentation can be found via 'doc/README_FOR_APP.rdoc'.

Requirements, new installations and upgrades

Requirements for all users

TrackRecord was developed upon and is optimised for the PostgreSQL database. In particular its report generator will run fastest on this platform. Other Rails-supported databases should work, but only PostgreSQL has been tested extensively under development. PostgreSQL 8.4 or later is required if using that database engine.

The installation and upgrade guides below assume you are familiar with the general procedure for installing Rails applications, with an environment set up already for Ruby On Rails. If not, then I strong recommend you begin with “RVM”, the Ruby Version Manager:

…and use this to establish a Ruby 1.9 installation. TrackRecord assumes Ruby 1.9 patch level 392 or later. It is not tested on Ruby 2.0 and will not work on Ruby 1.8.

Installation for new users

Download either a source archive from the Pond's Place web site (see above), from GitHub directly, or glone the repository as per GitHub instructions. Then:

Make a secret key

Edit file config/initializers/secret_token.rb as per the instructions in the file; comment out the raise statement, uncomment the secret_token assignment underneath and type in or otherwise randomly generate a long token string. Running command rake secret is a good way to do this.

Never make your modified file public anywhere! Keep it a secret always.

Configure TrackRecord for your database

Copy a template database configuration file:

PostgreSQL 8.4 or later

config/database_blank.yml

SQLite 3

config/database_sqlite.yml

Other databases

Roll your own config/database.yml file

…as file config/database.yml and modify to suit your database configuration. You then need to say what database access gem you want to use. Edit file Gemfile at the top level of the TrackRecord distribution:

PostgreSQL 8.4 or later

No changes are necessary

SQLite 3

Comment out the line gem 'pg', '>=0.16' and add underneath it the line gem 'sqlite3'

Other databases

Comment out the line gem 'pg', '>=0.16' and add underneath it gem line(s) specifying whatever is needed for your chosen database; you may need to do a web search to determine the required gem(s)

Make sure you have all installed gems available

Issue the command bundle install. This can be a bit fraught as Ruby and Rails gems can be finniky things, especially database adapter gems; these often need native components compiling which in turn require a working native compiler and supporting files on your system. If you get an error, try doing a web search for it as often the answer can be found there. If all else fails see trackrecord.pond.org.uk for contact details.

If you get warnings about something called Nokogiri and LibXML versions at run-time, please see the later section about the Nokogiri gem.

Finally, set up your database

Issue the following commands to set up all database structures. These assume a Unix-like environment. Windows users will need to adapt them.

rake db:create:all
RAILS_ENV=production rake db:migrate
RAILS_ENV=development rake db:migrate

If you get an error, it's likely that your database configuration isn't correct - check the steps above are OK.

Check it works in development mode

Depending on where you're deploying, you may have wider web server issues to consider. For a local machine, you can test with the Rails built in web server:

This will test the server in development mode, so changes made here will not affect your production environment database unless you configured them to be the same in config/database.yml.

Possibly 'precompile assets' for production mode

Asset precompilation is rather convoluted Rails-ism aimed at performance improvements in production mode. If you run a production server you may already be familiar with this and have made your own environment settings inside config/environments/production.rb, but in any case it is likely that you will have to issue this command:

RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake assets:precompile

For more, please see guides.rubyonrails.org/asset_pipeline.html and section “Notes on asset precompilation” below.

Running formal tests

To make sure your database is suitable for TrackRecord, run the tests with the command rake test. This will take a long time to complete. No test failures are expected.

If you get warnings about something called Nokogiri and LibXML versions at run-time, please see the later section about the Nokogiri gem.

Optional configuration

You may want to look at files config/initializers/email_config.rb and config/initializers/general_config.rb once you've verified that the software is running, to see what other things can be changed. In general, the other files in config/initializers should not be modified.

Upgrading for existing users

Upgrading from version 1.x

If you are updating from a version earlier than v2.0, please see the CHANGELOG file's information about v2.0 for details as this is a major update from Rails 2 to Rails 3.

Upgrading from version 2.00 to 2.11 inclusive

You will need to update config/production.rb with a path prefix if you deploy in a subdirectory rather than you server's document root. This step is required because of a very long standing Rails bug.

See the comments above the “config.relative_url_root” line for details. This is vital for anyone running TrackRecord in a non-root location, even if you use something like Phusion Passenger and normally expect to need no such configuration changes.

You must then also follow the steps shown in the next section.

Upgrading for all version 2.00 or later users

Otherwise, whenever you update a version 2.x installation, please do the following things:

Make sure gems are up to date

(Re-)issue command bundle install (then optionally, bundle update).

If you get warnings about something called Nokogiri and LibXML versions at run-time, please see the later section about the Nokogiri gem.

Make sure your databases are up to date

Issue the following commands to update all database structures. These assume a Unix-like environment. Windows users will need to adapt them.

RAILS_ENV=production rake db:migrate
RAILS_ENV=development rake db:migrate
Possibly recompile assets for production mode

TrackRecord as a Rails 3 application requires asset precompilation for production mode, unless you changed config/environments/production.rb so that this wasn't needed. A new release of TrackRecord means updated assets so you need to issue:

RAILS_ENV=production rake assets:clean
RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake assets:precompile

For more, please see guides.rubyonrails.org/asset_pipeline.html and section “Notes on asset precompilation” below.

Re-run the formal tests

To make sure your database is still suitable for TrackRecord, it is advisable (though not strictly necessary) to re-run the formal tests with the command rake test. This will take a long time to complete. No test failures are expected.

Notes on asset precompilation

Deploying in a subdirectory

Rails asset precompilation is somewhat broken in that it doesn't understand applications deployed into subdirectories. If you are not using Heroku, you can fix this by adding the following into config/environments/production.rb:

config.assets.initialize_on_precompile = true
config.relative_url_root = '/<your-app-subdir>'

…then precompile the assets. If already compiled, delete the folder 'public/assets' then precompile again (see earlier for the command).

Deploying on Heroku

On Heroku, the 'initialize' flag must be 'false'. The following link may provide some insight about what to do:

https://github.com/rails/rails/issues/8941

I apologise for the inconvenience, but I can't do much about a bug like this that's been in Rails for at least two years, especially now that (at the time of writing) Rails 4 is out so a Rails 3 fix is even more unlikely.

Warnings from Nokogiri

From version 2.25, TrackRecord's test suite uses something called Capybara for integration tests. This has an unavoidable but somewhat unfortunate reliance on Nokogiri, an XML parser. It's a capable, but very big gem that has a huge native extension which can take a long time to build and install.

Installing Nokogiri in earlier days used to be quite a fragile process with a high chance of error (in my experience) but it's got a lot better since. If you do encounter errors, though, you'll need to search the web for help.

A common run-time warning however is a complaint that the LibXML version used for building the gem differs from that being used at run-time. I got this on OS X Mavericks with a clean installation of the gem via bundle. Advice online included things like uninstalling and reinstalling the gem with simple commands that just didn't make any difference. In the end, I installed it with explicit pointers to the libraries it would end up using at run-time.

gem uninstall nokogiri     (...and answer "y" to everything)
gem install nokogiri -- --with-xml2-include=/usr/include/libxml2/libxml --with-xml2-lib=/usr/lib/ --with-sxlt-include=/usr/include/libxslt --with-xslt-lib=/usr/lib/

Yes, there really is meant to be that “ -- ” after nokogiri.

You might have to adapt that for different systems; for example, on a 64-bit Linux, you'd probably need /usr/lib64/ instead of /usr/lib. If you don't need the documentation for Nokogiri installed locally - it takes ages! - then add --no-rdoc --no-ri just after gem install nokogiri, before the “ -- ”. This does mean you'd need to go online to read documentation rather than being able to browse it via likes of gem server or the ri command.

You might need to repeat the above process if you upgrade your system and your libraries change.

If this doesn't solve your warning problems, I'm afraid you'll have to start searching the web for clues.

TrackRecord Quick Start User Guide

First time setup

The first time you use TrackRecord you'll be asked to provide an Open ID for the person that'll become the first system administrator. More details about OpenID are provided on the welcome page.

Adding other users

To add new users to the system:

  • The new user tells the admin what their preferred Open ID is

  • The admin uses the “Manage users” link on their Home page control panel to add a new User entry with the required permissions and Open ID set

  • The admin tells the new user that they're set up

  • The new user can now log in

Only permitted Open IDs added by an administrator in this way will be able to sign into the system.

Customers, projects and tasks

A customer has many projects and a project has many tasks. Only admins are able to create any of these entities.

Adding one at a time

When adding new customers etc. to the system, start with the customer, then add the projects, then add the tasks. Always take care to assign the correct task->project->customer ownership; you don't have to assign a task to a project, for example, but users can't add that task to a row in their timesheet unti you do.

Bulk task import

It is possible to import tasks en masse from XML files exported by software such as OpenProj or Microsoft Project. Use the “Bulk task import” link from the Home page control panel and follow the instructions presented.

If your workflow is based around creating project plans before setting up the timesheet system, this can be really useful as the project plan may be used as the import data source.

Permissions

Administrator users can do just about anything. Manager users can read almost all data on the system, but can only edit their own data or the timesheets of other users (so they can make corrections or adjustments if necessary). Restricted users can only read data that they have created, or that they are given explicit permission to see. An administrator must edit the user's account and add a task list to it, so that the user is able to do things with that task list - in particular, they can't add task rows to their timesheets unless the admin has given them permission to “see” those tasks.

Users can make temporary, or permanently saved reports. These can be marked as “shared”, in which case other users can see them. For managers and admins it makes little difference as they can read any report anyway, but for restricted users, a report made by someone else is only visible if it is marked as shared.

Timesheet committing

Timesheets are editable until committed, then they become frozen. This leads to the notion of comitted versus non-committed hours in reports and so forth. The idea is that at the end of a week, a user finishes editing their timesheet and commits it using the relevant pop-up menu in the timesheet editor. Thereafter, “history cannot be rewritten” - important if you've used timesheet data in reports sent to clients.

For some workflows, you might want to commit less often, or you might find that some users don't remember to commit timesheets when you expect them to. Consequently, it's possible for admins to bulk commit timesheets that lie between two given dates. Use the “Bulk timesheet commit” link on the Home page control panel and follow the instructions provided.

Audit trail

Changes to “important” objects like customers or timesheets are recorded in detail in the audit trail. Admins can examine this if they need to see who modified something and when. It's unlikely that you will need it, but should anything unexpectedly change in a way that might be a problem for a report or client, you do at least have this fallback to help work out what happened. Follow the “Raw audit data” link on the Home Page control panel.

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