We are working on the next evolution step in TimeTune: Templates.
Templates are a new feature that will replace routines and the programmer 🙀
Don’t worry! Templates are very similar to routines. In that regard, it’s like a change of name.
However, templates will be more powerful than routines and the programmer combined 💪
But why this change?
PROBLEMS WITH ROUTINES
Since the beginning, routines in TimeTune presented several drawbacks with no easy solutions:
Confusion with the concept
For most people, the common definition of a routine is ‘a series of actions done in sequence’. For example, a morning routine that contains several steps.
However, routines in TimeTune have a different, unintuitive definition: ‘a group of days (containing actions) that repeat in a cycle’.
This confusion is one of the main reasons many users find the app difficult to understand at first. We’re asking them to forget their definition of routine and adapt to our artificial one.
‘Templates‘, on the other hand, is a more intuitive term that everybody understands. And it better reflects what the feature is: a template for a day.
So far, TimeTune allows to create routines with 1 day up to 15 days.
The original idea was that your routine should reflect your work/rest cycle. So, if you followed a weekly cycle, you had to use a 7-day routine. That would be the most common case.
But routines with multiple days have a big disadvantage: they create unnecessary repetition. On a 7-day routine, for example, it’s more than probable that some days end up being exactly the same.
That leads to errors and unnecessary work. If we want to modify one slot, we need to manually transfer that modification to the other days were the slot repeats.
That’s why templates will only have 1 day. But you’ll be able to apply them in a huge variety of ways! ✨
Not enough flexibility
Routines don’t allow for the creation of complex patterns. And although you can create routines with up to 15 days, that’s not enough for all use cases.
For example, some users have working cycles that repeat after 28, 72 or more days. However, most of those days are identical, so using a routine that long would lead to an insane amount of repetition.
The problem is that routines in TimeTune embed the repetition pattern in their definition (the amount of days in a routine defines its repetition cycle).
Templates, on the other hand, won’t have that problem. Separating the repetition cycle from the template will allow us to create very powerful patterns.
Atypical routines are confusing
Atypical routines (i.e. routines with more than 1 day, except 7) have their own set of particular problems:
- If you want to change the dates where they are applied, you need to explicitly restart their cycle.
- You cannot apply them to specific days of the week (and although that wasn’t the original purpose, the current implementation leads many users to believe it’s possible).
- They don’t play well with the programmer.
That’s another reason to extract the repetition pattern from routines and use 1-day templates instead.
PROBLEMS WITH THE PROGRAMMER
Originally, the purpose of the programmer was to automate the switch to a different routine on a specific calendar date.
But this feature brought with it a new series of problems:
Confusion with the concept
If you ask several people what a ‘programmer’ is, they will give you different explanations.
Our particular meaning was something like a ‘thermostat programmer’: a tool that lets you ‘program’ specific configurations to use on specific dates (in our case, routines instead of temperatures).
But our definition was so ambiguous that the confusion was almost guaranteed (and it’s even worse in other languages).
With templates you’ll be able to do what the programmer does, but there’s no need for the term ‘programmer’.
Manual mode / Programmer mode
If you want to use the programmer, you need to explicitly enable it. Then the app switches from ‘manual mode’ (where you can enable routines manually) to ‘programmer mode’ (where you tell the app to enable routines on specific dates, but can’t enable them manually).
The implementation only allows to use the app in one mode or the other. It’s not technically possible to use both at the same time.
That’s annoying, because you need to constantly switch between one mode or the other depending on your needs.
With templates, there are no different ‘app modes’. There are only templates that you apply to the days you need.
We frequently receive emails asking us to implement repetition patterns for programs (for example: ‘use this routine once a month’).
But the current implementation doesn’t allow that. You can only set specific dates. To make this possible, we would need to rebuild the programmer from the ground up.
Templates, on the other hand, will allow repetition patterns 🥳
Atypical routines and the programmer
As we pointed out before, atypical routines don’t play well with the programmer. As they keep track of their cycle internally, there’s no way to know which day of the routine will be used when a program enables them.
If we kept routines as they were, the solutions to this problem implied complicating the user interface even more.
Like before, the problem happens because the repetition pattern is embedded into routines. As templates are independent from their repetition pattern, they won’t have this problem.
The current version of the app (TimeTune 3.1 at the time of this writing) is a mixed bag of features that don’t fit well together: daily, weekly or atypical routines mixed with a programmer mode that you need to enable or disable depending on your needs.
It’s no wonder first-time users have a hard time trying to understand how the app works. The implementation is not intuitive.
Templates will solve all those problems while enabling new powers at the same time.
This change may be a bit disorienting at first, but bear with us. After using the new templates for a while, you won’t look back.
QUESTIONS & FEEDBACK
If you have any doubts or questions about the new feature, you can leave a comment in this article or ask through Facebook, Reddit or Twitter. Or you can send an email to email@example.com if you prefer.
And if you want to be the first to try the new templates, remember to opt in for the beta program in our page in Google Play. Your feedback will be much appreciated 👍
Stay tuned for this new exciting feature! 🙂