Microsoft Visual Studio is one of the most popular software development platforms out there.
Companies and individuals using the platform may want to track time for various tasks and projects within it.
After all, tracking time within Visual Studio has many benefits, including improved productivity and efficient project management.
So how do you go about Visual Studio time tracking?
In this article, we’ll share six best time tracking solutions for Visual Studio IDE and three reasons you should use one.
Table of Contents
- 6 Best Visual Studio Time Tracking Solutions
- Why Do You Need Visual Studio Time Tracking?
Let’s get started.
6 Best Visual Studio Time Tracking Solutions
Together with Microsoft tools like VS Code (code editor), Azure DevOps, etc., Visual Studio offers cutting-edge solutions to create apps for multiple devices and platforms.
Despite its massive application in the software development world, the Visual Studio platform lacks a basic project management feature – native time tracking.
Without it, you and your team won’t be able to track the time spent on various Visual Studio activities. This could lead to poor time management and project delays.
Luckily, there are excellent third-party time tracking tools that you can use to monitor the time when working away on your code on Visual Studio.
Here are our top 6 picks:
1. Time Doctor
Time Doctor is an excellent time tracking tool that can help streamline your Visual studio workflow. It’s used by companies of all sizes as well as freelancers to boost productivity.
The tool can account for every second you and your team spend developing apps and programs on Visual Studio. You’ll get complete visibility of the time spent on each task, individually and as a team.
What makes it more convenient is that you can use Time Doctor’s standalone time tracking feature for other Microsoft tools and services like Visual Studio Online, Visual Studio Code, Azure DevOps, etc.
In fact, Time Doctor has a powerful Chrome extension that can easily integrate with Azure DevOps (formerly Visual Studio Team Services) — a code development, collaboration, and release management tool.
To top it all, users can leverage Time Doctor’s powerful functionalities on multiple platforms, such as:
- Desktop app for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- Mobile app for Android.
- Google Chrome extension (for supported integrations).
Now let’s check out Time Doctor’s beneficial features in detail:
A. Flexible Time Tracking
Time Doctor features an interactive timer that lets you track time for Visual Studio activities using a start/stop timer. The timer button gives you better control over how and when you track time.
Here’s how it works:
- Open Time Doctor and enter a task name.
- Click Start when you’re ready to begin your work session.
- Stop the timer when you’re done or need a break.
Time Doctor also supports automatic time tracking to make the process more convenient. In this mode, the timer starts as the system turns on without any input from the user.
This advanced feature helps you keep your focus on those intense coding sessions without needing to operate the timer manually.
B. Projects and Tasks
You can easily add your Visual Studio projects and tasks in Time Doctor for tracking the time spent on them. The tool allows multiple people to track their time on a specific task or project.
In a team setting, managers can assign these tasks and projects to the employee(s) working on them.
Here’s how it works:
- Once you’ve downloaded the Time Doctor app and are signed in, go to Settings / Projects & Tasks.
Note: If you don’t see this option, go to Settings / Company settings and enable it.
- Next, click on the Add Project button on the left pane, enter a project name, and hit the + button to add the project to your list.
- To add a task to a project, select a project and under the Tasks tab, click on Add Task to enter a name.
- You can select the People tab in the selected project to add employees who should have access to the project and tasks under it.
C. Idle-time Alerts
Developers may sometimes feel distracted and lose their focus. Time Doctor has a useful idle-time alert feature to minimize such unproductive patterns.
The tool tracks idle-time as second/minutes where there’s no mouse or keyboard activity on the user’s computer.
After a specific period (set by the admin), users will get a pop-up alert on their screen asking if they are still working.
Note: Time Doctor only checks if the keyboard or mouse is in use and does not record any data.
D. Productivity Reports
Time Doctor’s real-time reports give you vital productivity and time usage insights for each of your team members.
These resorts include:
- Hours Tracked Report: Check how many hours a programmer has worked per day, per week, or any other date range you select.
- Projects and Tasks Report: See the total time spent on different VS projects and their tasks.
- Activity Summary Report: View a detailed account of an employee’s activity, including active, unproductive, or mobile time over a period of time.
- Timeline Report: Shows the time a user spends on tasks and breaks through daily or weekly reports.
- Web and App Usage Time Report: Track the time your team spends on different websites and applications.
E. Payroll Integration
In addition to time tracking, Time Doctor offers powerful payroll management features for easy invoicing and payments.
Whether you’re a freelancer developer or a business owner, you can use the time data to calculate billable hours and accurately charge your clients. You can also set hourly pay rates for your freelance VS developers and add up their total work hours to avoid any miscalculation.
Moreover, you can also export your payroll data in multiple formats (CSV, XLS, PDF, etc.).
It allows you to use powerful time tracking functionality directly from the third-party tool’s interface, saving you time and effort in switching apps.
Time Doctor offers a 14-day free trial (no credit card details required). Time Doctor’s basic plan starts at $7/user per month and includes essential features like time tracking and activity tracking.
- G2: 4.4/5 (270+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.5/5 (390+ reviews)
TimeCamp is a simple time tracking tool that you can use to log time for Visual Studio projects and monitor your team’s productivity.
- Offers both manual and automatic time tracking functionality for better flexibility.
- Has a website and app usage monitoring feature to gain vital productivity insights.
- Helps you analyze time data more effectively using visual timesheets.
- Keyword-based tracking helps you easily switch between projects and tasks.
TimeCamp’s pricing starts at $6.3/user per month. It includes productivity tracking and budgeting functionalities.
- G2: 4.7/5 (170+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (500+ reviews)
DeskTime is a time tracking solution that software development companies can use to improve teams’ efficiency. It’s available on Windows, Mac, and Linux (Ubuntu) platforms.
- Get a peek into your team’s productivity and time usage using a productivity bar.
- Has built-in Pomodoro timer functionality to help your team stay focused during coding activity.
- Helps you with project management through features like project time and expense tracking and detailed reporting.
- Allows users to take a digital time-out using the ‘private time’ feature.
DeskTime’s paid plans start at $7/user per month. It also offers a free version with limited features.
- G2: 4.7/5 (30+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.5/5 (200+ reviews)
Hubstaff is a work management software that offers effective time tracking and timesheet functionalities for your Visual Studio tasks.
- It can generate automated timesheets based on time entry records.
- Hubstaff dashboard shows detailed reports to monitor all work activities.
- GPS tracking and geofencing features to monitor your remote team.
- Available on multiple platforms like Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
Hubstaff offers a limited free version for a single user. Its paid plan starts from $7/user per month for a minimum of two users.
- G2: 4.3/5 (350+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.6/5 (1,200+ reviews)
5. Code Time
Code Time is an open-source time tracking plugin that you can install from the Visual Studio Marketplace. Hosted on GitHub, Code Time also supports a wide range of code editors, including VS Code.
- Offers automatic time tracking for uninterrupted coding and has a status bar that shows your coding activity stats in real-time.
- Shows advanced data visualization and development metrics through the Code Time Dashboard.
- Has an ‘Automatic Flow Mode’ that helps minimize distractions during intense coding sessions.
- A single Code Time account lets you sync your coding activity and data from multiple code editors on multiple devices.
Code Time is a free-to-use plugin for Visual Studio.
- G2: N/A
- Capterra: N/A
6. Visual Time Spent
Visual Time Spent is a time tracking add-on available on Visual Studio Marketplace.
- Automatically tracks time for a Visual Studio work item (solutions, projects, documents, etc.).
- Shows reports for the overall time spent on the platform and which activities took the most time.
- Helps you identify and minimize time hogs.
- Supports Visual Studio 2022, 2019, and 2017.
Visual Time Spent offers a free trial. Business license starts at $39.90/user (for a minimum of 10 users). It includes one year of software updates and technical support.
- G2: N/A
- Capterra: N/A
The Visual Studio time tracking add-ins and extensions like Code Time, WakaTime, Visual Time Spent, etc., are nifty tools that can come in handy for essential time tracking functionality.
However, to fully leverage the power of time and productivity tracking, a standalone tool like Time doctor is the way to go.
Why Do You Need Visual Studio Time Tracking?
Visual Studio is one of the most widely used integrated development environments (IDE) among software developers. It enables developers to create applications using a wide range of technologies like:
Besides development, the platform also offers services like debugging, testing, etc. With such widespread application, companies may have several Visual Studio projects running simultaneously, with each project at a different stage.
Without an effective time management strategy, these projects could face serious delays and risk overshooting their budget.
Let’s check out three benefits of tracking time for all your VS projects and tasks.
1. Track and Improve Developer Productivity
Developer productivity is a KPI that many software businesses actively track. To do this, companies use frameworks like SPACE or OKRs and assess their software engineers based on different aspects of their workflow, such as:
- Lines of code.
- Code reviews.
- Bugs fixed.
- Pull requests.
Naturally, time tracking is a crucial step in measuring a developer’s performance on these parameters. It gives you an objective view of a developer’s performance and helps you compare it against other employees or a baseline.
And by analyzing the time data, you’ll be able to spot red flags in an employee’s programming activity and take timely steps to improve their workflow. In the process, you also empower your developers to take ownership of their work and self-correct any time management issues.
2. Efficient Project Management
Software development businesses usually deploy iterative methodologies like Agile and Scrum to deliver projects.
Tracking time for projects and tasks leaves you with a ton of insightful data. You can use this data (historical records) to set accurate estimates, create a project roadmap, and set time-based milestones for future iterations.
Time records can also help you gauge your resource requirement and play a crucial role in project budgeting.
Read this informative guide to discover top project time management strategies.
3. Calculate Billable Hours
Many independent developers and software businesses charge their clients based on billable time. It’s imperative for them to keep track of every billable hour to create accurate invoices for their services.
It also helps companies pay their freelance hourly coders fairly.
Learn more about billable hours and how to track them here.
Visual Studio is an essential part of the software developers’ toolkit. However, a lack of native time tracking means you’ll need a third-party software solution to log time for your Visual Studio projects.
While all the tools shared in this draft can help you with basic Visual Studio time tracking, Time Doctor stands out with its additional features, including project and payroll management.
So why not sign up for Time Doctor’s free trial today?