Design

The Schedule Timeline

Jun 16, 2014

After a ton of work on the budgeting side of Cushion, I decided to step back and focus on scheduling. I met with a few more fellow freelancers and the verdict seems to be that scheduling is a day-to-day activity, whereas budgeting is done less often—maybe week-to-week. If this is the case, I definitely want to have scheduling from day one, so everyone could get some frequent use out of Cushion. A weekly-used app won’t cut it.

2014-06-15-schedule-tabs

The navigation for switching between the scheduling and budgeting views stumped me for a few days. With the model tabs as an established navigation on the app, I didn’t want to add anything that would compete too much. I decided to scrap the Cushion title in the top-left for now. With UI real estate becoming a premium in this app, that spot is much better suited for the view switcher—it also allows more views in the future.

Along with the positioning of the view tabs, I had difficulty deciding on a URL structure, since this completely flips the current one on its head. With these two views, essentially every page will have two pages—one for scheduling and one for budgeting. If you look at a project page, instead of /projects/:id, it would be /projects/:id/schedule or /projects/:id/budget. This makes complete sense, but for some reason, it didn’t seem like the clear answer at first. I started thinking of what /projects/new would be, since it currently shows the budgeting timeline. Would it now show both scheduling and budgeting, or neither?

2014-06-15-schedule-coded-vs-mockup

The scheduling timeline layout has been designed from the start of the app, but now that I needed to code it, a new challenge arose. Positioning a bunch of rectangles in a mockup is easy—the positioning logic is executed by the designer. With code, the simplest layout could come with a few hurdles of its own. For the scheduling timeline, all projects should rest on the baseline if they fit. If a project overlaps another project, it should rest above it.

2014-06-15-schedule-timeline

Unfortunately, this can’t be done solely with CSS, like the budgeting timeline. After a few searches describing the layout I was after, I found a chart that depicted the basic idea. It’s called a “swim lane” and is often used in flow charts. Once I saw the code required, I realized that this layout is actually pretty simple. Since I have start and finish dates for each project, I can just check for overlaps with those dates—no need for hit-detection. If a project’s finish date comes after another project’s start date, but its start date comes before that project’s finish date, you have an overlap. Upon finding an overlap, simply use a new “lane” for that item.

2014-06-15-actual-schedule

At the moment, I have two dates for each project—started_on and finished_on. These represent the actual dates for when the project started and finished, not their planned dates, which is why I use the past-tense. The next step is to add two more dates for estimated start and finish dates. These will be set upon creating the project and represent the agreed upon dates with the client. When you start a project, you set its started_on date and its finished_on date upon completion, so we have something to diff against. These four dates will let you see which clients are late to start or which ones drag on too long. From there, I can then find trends in specific clients.

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  1. Our First Company Lunch
    Story
  2. How to embed Vue.js & Vuex inside an AngularJS app... wait what?
    Dev
  3. Funding Cushion
    Story
  4. Hiring a Team of Freelancers
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  5. Taking a Real Break From Work
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  6. Slack as a Notification Center
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  7. Document Your Features
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  8. 300
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  9. Vacations
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  10. Offering Discounts
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  11. Waves of Traffic
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  12. Less Blogging, More Journaling
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  13. Retention Through Useful Features
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  14. The Onboarding Checklist
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  15. Spreading the Word
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  16. From Beta to Launch - The Subdomain
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  17. From Beta to Launch - Sign up
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  18. From Beta to Launch - Messaging
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  19. Launch
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  20. Authenticating with 3rd Party Services
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  21. Intro to Integrations
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  22. Inspiration vs Imitation
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  23. The Emotional Rollercoaster
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  24. Designing Project Blocks
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  25. Everything in Increments
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  26. Deleting Your Account
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  27. Designing the Subscription Page
    Design
  28. Rewriting the Timeline
    Dev
  29. Restructuring the Individual Project Page
    Design
  30. Project Blocks
    Story
  31. Redesigning the Homepage
    Design
  32. Multiple Timelines
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  33. Archiving and Estimate Differences
    Design
  34. Multiple Financial Goals
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  35. Zooming in on the Timeline
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  36. Currency
    Dev
  37. Preferences, Accounts, and a Typeface Change
    Design
  38. Sending Out the First Email
    Story
  39. Currency Inputs, Notifications, and Invoice Nets
    Design
  40. Dots and Lines
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  41. Calculating in the Database and Revealing Tendencies
    Dev
  42. Improved Form UX
    Design
  43. Cushion is Online
    Story
  44. Schedule Timeline Patterns
    Design
  45. A Slimmer Schedule Timeline
    Design
  46. The Schedule Timeline
    Design
  47. Plugging in Real Data for the First Time
    Design
  48. Transitions and Project Lists
    Design
  49. Death to Modals
    Design
  50. The Individual Project Page
    Design
  51. Estimated Incomes and Talks with Other Freelancers
    Story
  52. Statuses to Lists and the Paid Beta
    Story
  53. The Timeline
    Story
  54. Invoice Terminology
    Dev
  55. Modal Forms
    Dev
  56. Wiring the Backend to the Frontend
    Dev
  57. Balancing Design and Dev
    Story
  58. Timecop, Monocle, and Vagrant
    Dev
  59. Going with Ruby and Sinatra
    Dev
  60. Ditching local-first and trying out Node.js
    Dev
  61. Switching to AngularJS
    Dev
  62. Building the Table with Vue.js
    Dev
  63. Clients, Projects, and Invoices
    Dev
  64. Introduction
    Story

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