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Time tracking in Inventor

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Recently started new job using Autodesk Inventor, and my manager is keen to find some sort of time tracker to record the actual active usage time spent by the various operators on the program. It really needs to be something that will run automatically in behind, and does not rely on the operator clicking a 'start' and 'stop' button.

Also it needs to not simply run as long as the CAD program is open, but only track it when it is actively being used.

Not sure if this is right forum to try, but figured its worth a go! :)

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There is a fundemental problem with trying to do this with computer programmes.


You can log when the programme is opened and when it is closed.

You can log how long it spends processing commands.


But you can't reliably log how long it takes a user to input the commands.

And of course there is more involved with drawing something with cad than constantly entering commands.


There is no reliable way to tell if a user is typing a command (or any other) string, or moving the mouse, or calculating a value before entering it, or looking at a reference drawing (or indeed reading the drawing on screen), or thinking about the design, or gone away to make a coffee/have a chat/watch TV.


Typically you can have a programme open for a few hours, and be sat using it all the time, but the command processing time will only be in the minutes.

You spend a lot longer between each command than the computer does processing each.


You could maybe check that there has been some command activity at least once every 5 or 10 minutes?


You could probably do something with facial recognition to make sure the user is sat at the workstation, or with eye tracking to make sure that they are looking at the screen.

But even that will not tell you if they are actually using any particular programme, they could be watching youtube.


In the end it comes down to trusting your employees to be working and logging their time correctly, rather than trying to be Big Brother.


Ok I know there are other reasons for logging usage, eg. to check if you are getting value for what the package cost you, but if you start monitoring things like this then your employees are going to suspect that they are being spied on. (And the temptation is there for managment to spy).

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nukecad have a look at what I posted, it logs commands, so is the guy who did 100 commands better than the guy who did 200 but used undo 50 times.





HMMM management to spy

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Hi Bigal,


That's fine but as I say there is a lot more to working on design/draughting than just entering commands into a CAD programme.


Typically I would start CAD, enter some commands and do some drawing, do a stress or other calculation, or look up some flange tables, or pipe tables, enter some more CAD commands, look up a component from a manufacturer, more CAD commands, etc., etc.


I guess it's semantics of when the CAD programme is 'in use' rather than 'being used', or any other term.


Is your computer 'in use' while it is turned on or only when you are inputing commands? Is your pen 'in use' when it is in your hand or only when you are writing with it?

(An e-book is 'in use' even though you are reading it and not inputting any command other than the occasional scroll).


So while logging the number of commands entered tells part of the story, it doesn't tell the full story.

I might be able to do a geometry transformation using only 4 commands, whereas a colleague with less experience may use 10 or so different commands to achieve the same transformation.

We see tips for working more efficently like that all the time on the forum.


To paraphrase your question above who is better, the guy who used 4 commands or the guy who used 10 to do the same job?

(And isn't that spying on your employees, for whatever reason?)


And what about macros, scripts, and lisps?

Only one command entered, many commands excecuted. OK you could log all the excecutions rather than just the one entered command.


Again I've no argument here against automatic logging.

I'm just pointing out that there is a lot to think about when proposing to use automatic logging, and even more to think about interpreting the results of any such logging.


It's going to depend on just why you want to log actvity in the first place.

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