Deadline: Notification API and GitHub support

18 Apr 2009 | By Alex Young | Comments | Tags deadline github

Deadline now has a notification API (and it works with GitHub). Notifications are similar to reminders, except they’re sent out in real time. Since adding notifications is so simple, you could hook up all kinds of software to Deadline to get alerts. Plus, you’ll already have configured Deadline with your preferred means of receiving reminders: email, SMS, Jabber, etc, which means you’ll get real time notifications the same way.

Notification API

Accessing the API is simple: a URL is requested with a notification description, and it will be sent out straight away by your preferred reminder methods.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to Settings, Feeds/iCal
  2. Copy the Notification URL. This URL contains your secret code (which is like a password) and your user ID
  3. Use the URL to send a notification


curl ",

This will send you a notification that reads: “Alert, web server 1 is down”.

GitHub Support

You can link a GitHub project to Deadline using GitHub’s Post-Receive Hooks. This could be really useful for tracking changes to projects by co-workers when you’re out of the office (especially if you have SMS set up).

  1. Edit one of your GitHub repositories
  2. Click Service Hooks in the secondary navigation
  3. Go to Settings, Feeds/iCal in Deadline
  4. Copy the GitHub Hook URL
  5. Paste it into GitHub’s Post-Receive URLs list and press Update Settings

You will now receive notifications when people push changes to the repository.

Secure Trading Rails Plugin

15 Apr 2009 | By Alex Young | Comments | Tags programming rails plugins money

We use Secure Trading for Helicoid’s payment processing. I wrote a payment processor plugin for our apps about two years ago, and it’s been in production since then. A few people have asked me to open source the code, so here it is: securetrading-rails.

I’d like to integrate it with ActiveMerchant because I like their API, but I haven’t had time so far.

Out of all the payment processing companies I’ve dealt with, which is a lot, Secure Trading have been the most reliable with the best customer service. Their XML API is relatively straightforward too.

Helipad Mac Update

01 Apr 2009 | By Alex Young | Comments | Tags helipad mac beta

The Helipad Mac beta has been extended. Download it here: Helipad Mac.

This will run until August. We’re working on adding Sparkle for automatic updates so upgrading will be easier soon.

Tiktrac upgraded: Times now stored in seconds

31 Mar 2009 | By Alex Young | Comments | Tags tiktrac upgrades

Tiktrac’s times are now internally stored in seconds. This means the timer is much more intuitive. We also took this opportunity to make the timer look more like a clock:

The task entry form now displays the end date when you set the task as completed, which saves a few seconds when inputting lots of tasks.

We’ve also made the currently selected sheet clearer in the right-hand navigation.

There’s also a new manage screen which allows you to add or configure clients and sheets — administrators will see a Manage tab at the top of each page. I decided to add this page because we want to remove the right-hand sheet navigation to replace it with something that uses less space in the future.

The seconds upgrade was actually a difficult thing to do, but it’s resulted in cleaner code internally. That frees us up to implement new features soon (upgraded dashboard, navigation and invoicing).

Deadline parsing tweaks

26 Mar 2009 | By Alex Young | Comments | Tags deadline

Deadline now works with relative time:

  • Visit estate agent in 3 hours
  • Deploy Deadline upgrade in 2 days
  • Plan wedding next month

This update includes bug fixes, especially relating to Deadline’s recognition of ranges of time for repeating dates.

I’ve also been working on making Deadline’s email interface more user-friendly. It’s not quite ready yet, but it’s almost there.

Remember you can find us on Twitter as well as this blog:

Helipad updates and other news

27 Feb 2009 | By Alex Young | Comments | Tags helipad

We rolled out a few minor changes to Helipad this week:

  • Tags on the dashboard page can be hidden
  • The space usage indicator has been removed
  • Helipad can now be reached at

We decided to drop the space limitation because we’re now selling Helipad iPhone.

Coming soon

  • Tiktrac will be moving from minutes to seconds internally, this means the timers will be more intuitive
  • We’re also working on a configurable dashboard for Tiktrac
  • Deadline iPhone is in development
  • Deadline SMS will continue to be free for a while because the SMS traffic is relatively low, so try it while it’s free!

Loom exception logging for your apps

20 Feb 2009 | By Alex Young | Comments | Tags loom development

We’ve recently added exception logging to Loom. There’s an open source rails plugin which you can use to integrate Loom with your Rails apps. The API is simple so we’ll probably collect plugins and libraries for other platforms (I’ll look into iPhone support for iPhone apps).

If you haven’t seen it before, Loom is a tiny app we built to track bugs in our apps. It also works well as a customer support tool. It originally started off as Bugtagger in 2006, and it had some work towards remote exception logging but this was never finished. Bugtagger was a quick app I built to support Tiktrac customer support in the early days.

So now remote exception logging is almost ready for the public. You can check out the plugin and integrate it with your apps by adding your Loom account details to a controller. The README on Github has more details. The code looks like this:

  enable_loom :email => '',
              :password => 'test',
              :url => '',
              :project_id => 1

There’s a lot of work to do to make this a truly useful tool, but I have a feeling closely integrating bug reports with support requests and logged exceptions could lead to something incredibly useful.

New Tiktrac widget

16 Feb 2009 | By Alex Young | Comments | Tags tiktrac widgets

Our new Tiktrac widget is out: get it on the Tiktrac widget page. This is an entirely new version that adds:

  • Timers to every task
  • Description editing (click a description to edit it)
  • Delete tasks
  • Error messages

This version was created by Thomas Loudon with support from Alex at Helicoid.

Add ShareThis buttons to Tumblr

14 Feb 2009 | By Alex Young | Comments | Tags tumblr blogging social

Tumblr can be extended heavily by editing the templates and by adding services through JavaScript. I just wrote this ShareThis JavaScript that will automatically add ShareThis buttons to your Tumblr posts. This will:

  • Add Digg/Delicious/etc buttons in a menu so people can easily Digg your articles
  • Add the correct link and title to pages on your Tumblr index page, as well as on the article pages themselves

Here’s the code:

To use it follow these steps:

  • Sign up to ShareThis
  • Create JavaScript for “Other Blog” (ShareThis JS)
  • Login to Tumblr, and go to Customize, Theme
  • Get my JavaScript: tumblr_sharethis.js
  • Replace the first script line with your ShareThis JavaScript (ShareThis JS)
  • Paste your edited tumblr_sharethis.js into the header of your Tumblr Template
  • Change the template where it says {Block:regular} to include <div class=“ShareThis”></div> after {Body}

I’ve been quite explicit with these instructions but it’s actually very easy to do. Just remember that you need to edit my JavaScript with your ShareThis code, because ShareThis uses your publisher ID for its API.

You can see this JavaScript in use on QuiteUseful.

Service outage next Tuesday (17th Feb)

12 Feb 2009 | By Alex Young | Comments | Tags maintenance announcements

Our server hosting company are performing maintenance next week. They’re moving our servers, which means they’ll definitely be offline for a few minutes. Here’s the information they sent us:

Date of Work: 17th – 18th February 2009
Maintenance Window: 19:00 through 04:00
Outage per Host: Up to two hours, likely 30 minutes

We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause, and we will backup your data externally to ensure it’s safe. This is the first outage we’ve had from Bytemark Hosting for 3 years, the last (30 second) outage we had was where we prepared for this downtime.