About iTakeNotice

In Brief

iTakeNotice is a logbook for tracking repetitive events. Using a quick-entry system (no typing is required), you can record an event in seconds. A simple yet powerful filtering interface allows you to review your logbook entries individually, as well as view tallies and summaries.

For instance, I just got a new puppy and I've been keeping track of every time he pees in the house, every time he obeys a command, and every time we take a walk (and how many minutes we walked). Once I set up the app with that information, I could easily enter events as they happened. Now I can answer the following kinds of questions:

  • How many times did he obey a command in the last month? In the last year?
  • When was the last time he peed in the house? Did he pee in the house in October last year?
  • How many minutes total have we walked in the past week?

Of course, iTakeNotice is not specifically for puppy training. Because you decide how to set up your logbook, you can track any series of repeating events. Here are just a few contexts in which it can be used:

  • Personal habits
  • Hospital patient care
  • Student behavior for conduct grades
  • Parenting
  • Research studies
  • Tech support
  • Coaching
  • Pregnancy and postnatal

It's possible to track not just one of these things, but all at the same time, because iTakeNotice lets you group people and events together according to context.

When you want to look through your logbook to see the data you've accumulated, iTakeNotice's filter interface helps you to narrow down your question. You may focus on a particular person, context or event, or any combination, as well as set a time interval. Two views (summary and detail) let you get at your data either with a birds-eye view or a detailed list containing each individually dated entry. Export via email is available, so you can do advanced charting and analysis with any spreadsheet application.

The Story

Necessity is the mother of invention, and in my case my needs revolved around my classroom. I wanted a quick way to log student behaviors that I could later factor into a conduct grade. Nothing on the App Store seemed to do what I wanted; there were plenty of tally and counter apps but they didn't have all the features I thought would be necessary. I wrote up a brief description of the basic function of the app and the idea began to simmer.

Over the course of a few months, I developed the idea with pencil and paper, sketching ideas and writing notes about the flow of the interface, the data structures I would need to use, and the general architecture of the software, and posing lots of questions when the process took me to the edge of what I had already envisioned. During that process, I also did some previsualization with art pens (inspired by this blog post) so that I could get a feel for what elements of the interface would look like in actual size on the device.

I got coding fairly quickly, and built up the data storage engine on top of the sqlite library before school got too busy for me to continue. The circumstances turned out to be advantageous, since Apple released the 3.0 SDK in Spring 2009, which included Core Data. When I finished up the school year, I set to work in earnest on coding, ripping out my data storage engine to replace it with Core Data, and building up the controller logic and user interface. About 1 1/2 solid months of work got me to a stable, working version with enough core features that I felt it was time to release it into the wild.

Who knows where things go from here? I'm sure people will find ways to use iTakeNotice that I haven't dreamed of. Part of its future development will be determined by those kinds of demands. I have plenty of ideas about additional features and companion products, some of them from my initial notes, and others from very insightful conversations with friends. I hope that you enjoy using the app half as much as I enjoyed creating it!