Under consideration

:bulb:

Manual tracking, or adding numbers to custom tags

An official suggestion to be able to manually track a numeric value that you created yourself. One way would be to augment “custom tags” somehow so that each tag could have an associated value, like “meditation (20)”. Or perhaps we’d separate tags and manual numbers into different areas.

To be clear, this is not something we’re officially planning right now, but we’re happy to gauge the popularity of the idea and have a discussion about it here.

142 votes

Tagged as New feature

Created 16 August 2017 by Josh Sharp

Moved into Under consideration 20 November

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  • avatar

    Excited that you are looking into it! Thank you!

    17 August 2017
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    I would love this so much. Second idea sounds much cleaner to me.

    17 August 2017
  • 17 August 2017
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    Yeah, that idea sounds great !

    19 August 2017
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    This would make custom tracking truly useful. It could just add an extra key/value for count, which could easily be used for either quantity or duration, or that could be 2 separate data points. I’d love to be able to increment things throughout the day by just tapping a tag again, like cups of coffee for example. But being able to add a duration (E.g. meditation) would also be awesome, and wouldn’t necessarily work with the “tally counter” UI. looking forward to any version of it, though!

    02 September 2017
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    This would truly round out Exist into its full potential and solve a lot of problems. For example, the inability to track mood more than once a day, the inability to easily track word count, time spent reading, time spent on work (not through RescueTime), time spent on social media, etc. etc. I have been tracking custom data points manually in a spreadsheet for years. I’m loving Exist, but if I had this capability, I’d be able to ditch the spreadsheet and just use Exist and it’s connected apps. Thanks!

    05 September 2017
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    I love this idea. I’ve been using a kludge right now by creating separate tags like “Coffee1”, “Coffee2” and “Coffee3” to track how much coffee I have in a given day. (I use a similar method for sleep - tracking whether or not I got above 7 hours. But this would add a bunch of usability for me.

    06 September 2017
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    Yes, especially if we could update the custom attribute via API.

    12 September 2017
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    Yes!! 👍

    18 September 2017
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    I would love this

    28 September 2017
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    Also very much in favor of this. Seconding the coffee idea as a particularly simple but useful example. Each day I tag “coffee” but that doesn’t really tell me much, when number of coffees really would.

    11 November 2017
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    This is really the last step for me, in terms of making Exist genuinely powerful. If I had the ability to track custom attributes like “words written” or “coffees” or “minutes spent meditating”, I could use Exist to dial-in on what makes for a productive, happy day. Tags are great, but they’re too coarse-grained to handle a lot of the things I want to be optimising.

    06 December 2017
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    Galen, funnily enough for those specific attributes you can already use the API if you are determined! We have attributes already for words_written, coffees, and meditation_min that just don’t have any sources we yet integrate, but are ready to take data.

    I get your broader point though. There’s always more to do.

    06 December 2017
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    This is exactly the feature I was looking for while applying to the 30 days trial (a few hours ago). Is this going to be implemented in a near future (a few months) ?

    If not, I don’t really know yet if I am going to maintain my subscription (but maybe I will).

    03 January
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    Hey Maxime! This is only a suggestion, and as mentioned in the description, not officially planned, so that’s a negative.

    04 January
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    I’m enthusiastic for this one to hit the API! This could open the door to a lot of simple custom, less-conventional integrations. (I’m prototyping a simple PagerDuty integration that tracks when you’re “on call”; with numbered tracking, it could be used to track number of times alerted.)

    04 January
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    This seems essential. There is no way that you (the app developers) could possibly stay up to date on all possible things that people might want to add. I’ve had direct personal experience with people who are desperate for solutions, e.g., pain management. Some of them use hand drawn heat maps to attempt to correlate multiple variables and their values. If you seriously consider doing this, I’d be happy to provide a full design including schema and UML diagram that would be compatible with statistical analysis and handle additional needs such as raw values from source data.

    12 January
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    This would be nice for pomodoro users, to log in some exercises, and so on.

    10 February
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    That is very good. If you can make the tags have multi-level will solve it. ex: a tag called “Productivity” can have numeric level which can be custimized the unit by user.

    16 March
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    This and time of day for tags are at the top of my ask list. Thanks for considering.

    18 March
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    I found myself wanting exactly this as well! I want to do a variation of time tracking where I time the number of hours per day on a specific project. That’s different from “productive time”, since time on this project may or may not be considered productive. I was thinking about doing the “custom1,custom2,custom3” hack but that seems really ugly. I would much rather have native support for custom tracking!

    20 March
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    This would be the perfect solution to being able to track my Peak Expiratory Flow (L/min) for Asthma.

    30 March
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    I would love to see this happen as well.

    10 April
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    this would be great to track how many times in a day you take migraine meds, the pain level of a migraine, as well as what everyone else has mentioned!

    13 April
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    I’ve got a work in progress web app up and running which aims to provide an interface to all Exist data along with converting custom tags into usable values. My main goal was to generate charts for my doctor, which I’ve now accomplished, and being an open source developer I thought I’d share my work so far.

    All the app really does at the moment is spit out charts (because that was the point), but basically, it can detect custom tags which specify numeric values, and group together string values. The format is “(tag) (value) (label)”

    Examples: pef 500 = numeric value ‘500’ for ‘pef’ pain 3 high = numeric value ‘3’ for ‘pain’ labelled ‘high’ symptom insomnia = string value for ‘symptom’ labelled ‘insomnia’ event all nighter = string value for ‘event’ labelled ‘all nighter’

    Currently, I’m just using the Exist app to update my tags according to this format, though once I get to writing the editor there will be a proper interface to rate a day in a more traditional fashion.

    URL: https://exist.redeclipse.net/ GitHub: https://github.com/exist-sense/core

    Feel free to play around with it, watch the repo for updates, or submit an issue on GitHub to make feature requests. If there’s enough interest I’ll look at expanding this further as needed.

    14 April
  • avatar

    Nice work, Quiton! You should share this in the forum.

    One caveat with using tags this way is that you won’t always get useful correlations from them — because pain 1, pain 2, pain 3 etc. are all separate tags, we can only correlate one at a time, so we won’t be able to combine them to compare pain levels against other attributes. Obviously this gets worse for the different number of tags you have — if the numeric value is between 1 and 500, correlations for any one of these tags will be only 1/500th as useful. This might be an acceptable compromise for you, but it’s one you should make knowing the tradeoffs.

    14 April
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    Yeah, I realised early on the correlations wouldn’t work right, but I’m relying more on the graphs for comparisons with the custom values (they’re for experiments anyway!).

    And sure, I’ll cross post my announcement to the forum. Wanted to ping those who want custom values in order to get further input on it.

    14 April
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    I’m going to go a little crazy and say – make sure to support negative numbers… I currently pretend “negative” tags with an “x” so they all sort separate and I immediately get a feel for the intuitive impact I expected from that tag on my day.

    But, if the numbers went negative, then I would just use the negatives for perceived “negative” impactors. It would be interesting to see correlations that flew in the face of my expectations, like thinking that FB time was bad, but it turned out to be a good thing in terms of how it correlated with other things.

    I know we try to stick with hard data, but I think it’s good to allow for some tracking of expectations so we can later see more plainly how the data shows patterns that run counter to our expectations. Without this, I think we can miss the significance of particular correlations (we tend to mis-remember things when staring data in the face, and rationalize what we thought before to conform with the hard facts). When we do this, we miss the opportunity to improve/adapt that these offer.

    28 May
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    What are some examples of tags you’d track that require a negative value?

    28 May
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    Anything I considered a negative attribute: coffee drank, times on Social Media, news articles read, TV watched, fear, anger(not a lot of these last two, but I like to track anyway), dense carbs eaten, busy-stress, headaches…

    I would replace my current two-tier tag system with this. It might also do to simply mark a tag as “positive” or “negative” leaning, but I’m not sure how much that would complicated the UI. Just allowing for negative numbers might not require any tweaks other than how we declare the counter variables, and make the feature available to power users without complicating the interface for new users… food for thought anyway.

    28 May
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    Ah, I’m glad I asked. This isn’t how counting values for tags would work, and more importantly how correlations work. A negative value for an attribute doesn’t imply the attribute is something negative.

    29 May
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    Is there another use for negative values? My point is more about allowing us to indicate ahead of time if we feel a tag is positive or negative. The negative values seems like an elegant possible vehicle.

    It’s much nicer for me to keep my tags sorted this way instead of all mashed up, so I have more of an intuitive feel for how well the day went as I captured my journal entry (before I see the weekly/daily correlation reports)

    29 May
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    I’m open to supporting negative values as people may want to track something like temperature where a negative is valid. The initial use case will be quantities, though, so that may come later.

    Tags wouldn’t be sorted by value but by name as they are now, so I’m not sure what you mean about sorting. You can always rename tags to better group them together.

    30 May
  • avatar

    Thanks for investing the time to explore this further with me.

    Perhaps the use case is too specific, but I just like to know my bias on how I expect a tag to affect things (positively or negatively) as I’m looking at the correlations and when I write my journal. I currently do this by prepending all the negative tags with a “z” to sort them down to the bottom.

    It just seemed like having a way to show how negative of an impact I expect (e.g. using negative numbers for the amount is coffee drank) would be useful. But, I can see where some people would think that some coffee is good and a lot bad, so that use case gets muddy.

    If you did make negatives available, then I would use them as a way to separate those I expect to have negative impacts versus positive impacts.

    The question I have in my mind is: how big of an impact does a expected negative influencer (like coffee) have on my other activities during the day. This process of identifying the influences I think are positive and negative helps motivate me towards positive activities and more away from the negatives. Exist helps me see what’s actually correlating so I can validate or challenge these pre-conceptions. I try to always keep the axiom about correlation not causation in mind as I think through the results and what I should change as a result.

    PS – Sorry to pick on coffee, I’m just not much of a fan based on the books I’ve read.

    30 May
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    Sorry if this is too out there – I tend to think of Exist as a service that helps people make improvements in their life versus the nuts and bolts cool correlation engine that shows us all kinds of connections we did or didn’t expect. I realize it’s a little of both and you must make the touch choices for what to add (and also subtract) to keep the approach elegant.

    30 May
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    I totally get what you’re aiming for, but I think your method of categorising names of tags is the correct one here, you’ve already found the solution 😄 A negative integer does not denote a negative effect on the user, that’s confusing quantity (“I had ‘negative three’ coffees”) with correlation outcome (“I have a worse day when I drink more coffee”).

    31 May
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    No worries – I started my professional career as a white hat hacker for global 1000 companies, so I tend to think outside the norms for how we usually use things as a habit. As always, please use the interesting bits and ignore the rest. 🙏

    I mostly enjoy seeing the process for how you’re choosing your development path, as I’m gearing up to do my own timer/pomodoro style app.

    31 May
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    Maybe I’ve missed something, but: a) wouldn’t an easy way to do this be to simply to do the same thing as the Mood attribute but let the user choose the name for it (although this limits the range of values to 1-5 its better than nothing); b) this would also be a solution to the Suggestion to rate Energy level, so any votes for Energy level can be added to this, giving it the highest vote! Since you have already done all the code for the Mood attribute, isn’t it easy for you to do this? So don’t understand why you have not plans to do it....

    12 June
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    While porting the Mood rating to Energy level might work, it’s going to be useful for the range of values I suspect most people might have in mind. It’s also (in my opinion) clunkier than the value ranges available for temperature or email. I find it more useful to know the value goes up with certain tags than to know value(X) happens more with certain tags.

    12 June
  • avatar

    It’s very easy to proclaim something easy from the outside 🙂 there’s a lot more to it than you suggest Strahan. Also, as Linden mentioned, a 1-5 scale would work for few other custom attributes, so it’d still be a lot of work for a rather inadequate solution. Better to work up to doing it properly.

    13 June
  • avatar

    My thoughts were along these lines as well Josh… round peg, square hole feeling – especially from a UI perspective.

    As a slight aside, I wondered if it would be easy to make that when we enter our journal and tags, we don’t have to hit save on both tabs separately (iPhone). It’s a petty thing, but would make things just a touch more convenient every evening when I do this.

    Cheers!

    13 June
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    I think the “double save” thing is more for the average user, who don’t necessarily make use of tags and just rate their day then back out of the process. I don’t think it is feasible to save upon backing out because the general expectation is that would cancel without saving.

    I had the same thought originally, but looking at it from a developer perspective, I saw the method to the madness.

    15 June
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    @Quinton – I see, so when we switched views, then we would have to use that trigger to put the rating / memo or tags into temporary variables (depending on which view we switched from.), and then only save these variables permanently if the actual “save” button was pressed. Not sure if there is something I’m missing, but my understanding of iOS / Swift coding is that this should work in a relatively straightforward way.

    15 June
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    Please try to keep the conversation on topic (values for custom tags) for everyone who is subscribed to this task and gets email notifications 🙂

    16 June
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    Any plans/updates regarding this? Would open up a lot of possibilities using the Exist API (still direct integrations are the best. But cant add everything, so a good way to open up more possibilities)

    27 June
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    It’s something we’d like to support long-term, but there’s still a lot of stuff already planned to come first, plus some more first-party integrations. We might reevaluate its viability after that.

    28 June
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    So for me, this feature is more like a custom value in general and not necessarily a tag.

    Tags are binary. Either present or absent. These custom values are an axis. Like “steps” or “heart rate”. I guess what I’m looking for is the ability to log something totally custom in a generic way. If you put an api in front of this then now you pave the way for possibility of all custom integrations.

    I can imagine the following apis

    Counter
    • Increment(date, axis, n)
    • Decrement(date, axis, n)
    • Set(date, axis, n)
    • GetValue(date, axis)
    Samples
    • SetSample(date, axis, id, n)
    • ListSamples(date, axis)
    • RemoveSample(date, axis, Id)
    • GetValue(date, axis)

    From this set of samples you can average, min, max etc

    With these things I can now log arbitrary things:

    • pomodoros completed using a Counter
    • Meditation minutes using a Counter
    • Grams of poop poo’d using a Counter (who knows)
    • Average decibels of night sound using Mean of samples
    • Peak decibels of night sound using Max (thinking some sort of sound level monitor)
    • Average mood using Mean (multi sample)
    • Average peak flow (asthema)
    • Max peak flow (asthema)

    I feel like there might be a case for putting the onus on the user to compute averages/max/mins and just use a Counter to set a value via Set(n). The Set thing is just a nice api that would be easy to use for custom stuff where you don’t want to compute it yourself (e.g. A simple custom average mood value) and allow exist to correlate things perhaps unexpected by the user.

    18 July
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    (and this changemap thing really needs an edit - I have given up formatting after deleting three times for fear that I’m spamming subscribers to this suggestion)

    18 July
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    Yes, or at least a preview and a link to a Markdown reference for those unfamiliar with it, fair point.

    18 July
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    +1 for me… Additional bonus of this is that you will get an unofficial wish-list of integrations to make in the future.... When you see a ton of “HouseTemp” custom values for example…

    25 July
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    I would like to use this feature to track fasting hours for example… thank you

    20 August
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    I’m really surprised this doesn’t exist already, to be honest – I signed up assuming Exist would let you track your own attributes and have them show up in graphs, and it was disappointing to find otherwise.

    In addition to what others have said, building this also mean that users can effectively build any integration they want without waiting for first-party support.

    05 September
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    Exist has historically been about automatic tracking from third-party services, so that there’s little effort on users to keep their data up-to-date. It’s only recently that we’ve added any manual data outside mood tracking.

    06 September
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    Some interesting research going on into automating even the mood tracking piece:

    https://www.quora.com/When-will-there-be-an-automatic-mood-tracker

    (I’ve never heard of the other app the author mentions – I’m happy with exist!)

    06 September
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    Josh, going back to an earlier post of yours from December of last year, how might someone with no experience with APIs (but a willingness to learn) get words_written into Exist?

    11 September
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    Halsted, if you’re on iOS, probably the easiest way to do this would be using the Workflow app. If you check out the Exist user forum, I’ve posted a couple of different workflows in there for use with custom tags. Using our API docs, it shouldn’t take much to adjust one of those workflows to work for words_written rather than custom tags. Feel free to reach out and I can help you get this working—I may also write up a blog post about this in future.

    (Not sure what will happen with Workflow when Shortcuts is released with iOS 12, but hopefully those workflows will still work in some form.)

    11 September
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    This is what I bought Exist for.

    15 October
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    I’m sorry you’re paying for Exist in order to get a feature it doesn’t have! I can’t give you any guarantees that this’ll get added or when, so I hope you found Exist useful enough during your free trial that you decided to begin a subscription based on what it does already do, rather than what it doesn’t.

    16 October
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    I’m sorry, I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings. It does as you say have a free trial.

    I only meant to say that I engaged the product eyes-open - no ability to handle arbitrary scalars. But the API allows it, and of course the core/default element of ‘how good was your day’ is exactly the thing, as are dozens of the add-ins. So I figured it wouldn’t be long.

    I decided to pay for it for a while to see if I could get utility out of purely privative stuff, betting that either someone would add it or I would whip up a custom application using the API.

    We’ll see! Thanks for a neat product, I’m glad you’re making it!

    17 October
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    This sounds like a real beneficial option. Thank you for working on it!

    26 November
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    This is what I signed up for, hoping that Exist could it. I don’t see much value in the automatic data, but I would love to be able to quantify my custom inputs (as well as track them several times a day). I can’t find an app that will do this, but I am thrilled that Exist has this on the radar, and am keen to see it implemented.

    02 December