Four Pomodoro tools tested


The Python program Tomate [7], developed by Elio Esteves Duarte, is released under the GPLv3. In the lab, installation of the latest version 0.2.1 worked on neither Debian or Mint. In both cases, the tool did not want to cooperate with the current python-distutils-extra package. Ubuntu users can install the Pomodoro tool from the Launchpad PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stvs/tomate
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y tomate

The main window shows a large timer and includes the number of successfully completed Pomodori. Buttons let the user select whether to start a Pomodoro or a short or long break. The length can be defined in the settings. Tomate allows flexible values in steps of one minute between 1 and 93 minutes. The big green arrow starts the timer, and the blue circular arrow resets the counter.

Tomate settles into the Unity panel and motivates the user with a notification window when launched (Figure 7). On request, the panel and dash icons provide information about how much time has elapsed in the current Pomodoro. Users enable the display for the two icons in the program settings (Figure 8).

Figure 7: Tomate integrates well with the Unity desktop in Ubuntu. A pop-up lets you know that the timer is running.
Figure 8: Spartan, but sleek and functional: Tomate keeps to the bare essentials.

Unfortunately, that's all. Tomate users cannot define plans, tasks, or to-do lists, and statistical analysis is not supported. The tool also lacks synchronization with other devices or a team mode. This Pomodoro tool does not tick, and there's no switch for enabling a tick in the configuration. The end of a phase of work is announced by a short beep. Thus, Tomate is designed for users who simply need a timer and want to keep an eye on the elapsed time.

Basta, Pomodoro!

Overall, the test team had mixed feelings about the four tools. Tomate is just a simple timekeeper for the Ubuntu desktop. Users of other distributions are left out in the cold, but they could easily replace the program with a clock or kitchen timer  – the tool offers no more features than this. Flowkeeper is a handy tool that lets users design a plan of action at the start of the day and work through the units one by one. If more employees or more jobs come into play, the tool is past its limits. Additionally, development seems to have stalled, so whether Flowkeeper will be given new features and updates in the future is unknown.

Pomodorium is aimed primarily at gamers who need to battle their inner demons. Role players get value for their money; the tool works, but it is not suitable for use in an open-plan office or for teamwork. Because of its Adobe Air substructure, it is also not sustainable for Linux users.

Thus, the test team nominated TeamViz as the winner of this Bitparade. The appearance and arrangement of the main window in TeamViz is attractive, and the use of lists provides clarity. The mobile version is not quite as good, because the app cannot hope to match the neatness of the desktop version, even on larger displays. The basic functions are available in the free version, but if you want to sync your data between multiple devices, you need the commercial version. Although the Linux client is still in beta according to the manufacturer, it survived the test, except for the crashes when exporting data.

None of the test candidates offers a professional timesheet. The Pomodoro technique is only a means of becoming more effective and focused. Users who want to record their performance, and record concrete evidence for invoicing, will therefore do better to use a professional time-tracking tool.

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