What's a good site/app for tracking and graphing manually inputted data?
January 1, 2014 4:57 AM   Subscribe

What's a good site/app for tracking and graphing manually inputted data? I do not own a Fitbit or Jawbone, but I'd like to manually input the reading of a pedometer every day, and then be able to see graphs that show me, for example, how well I've done over the last month, or that I tend to have fewer steps on, say, Tuesdays. I'd also like to track and manually input things like: kilometers cycled, pages read, and other categories that I might come up with. I've seen Daytum, Beeminder and some others, and am keen on being able to input via a phone app, and would also prefer a free service. Can anyone recommend the best tools for this? Thank you.
posted by surenoproblem to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you are just manually imputing the data then google docs with a form gives you complete control and exportable data. A shortcut on your phone home screen will make it feel like an app. This doesn't use much data but does depend on an internet connection.
posted by Gilgongo at 5:30 AM on January 1, 2014

I use Tally Ally for tracking how far I run and swim. It's dead simple, and exportable to excel for whatever kind of further analysis you want to do.
posted by juliapangolin at 7:16 AM on January 1, 2014

I use a spreadsheet app for this. Numbers comes with Mac, presumably Excel would work just as well on a PC. Both have basic graphing capability.
posted by migurski at 9:07 AM on January 1, 2014

You didn't mention whether your phone was an iPhone or an Android phone, but from your posting history it looks like it's an iPhone.

I've been looking for similar things myself. There are many iOS apps in this category aimed at the iPhone, a long list of which is available at the Quantified Self Tools Guide. It's probably worth looking through that list and experimenting with a few. I've tried some of them, as well as some alternative approaches; what follows is a quick summary of what I've learned.

The choices are somewhat limited when it comes to decent apps for entering multiple categories of data that you choose (as opposed to specialized apps designed for only type of activity, e.g., running). One option is Lumen Trails; it is a very flexible app that lets you create any number of hierarchical categories of data to enter, and select different data types for each one. Each data type comes with a specialized user interface, which is important when your data is heterogeneous. (A simple yes/no question should provide a different interface than one which takes a numberic answer, after all.)

Another app with similar goals is rTracker; like Lumen Trails, it lets you define any categories of mixed data, and it offers plotting options. The interface is much less polished than Lumen Trails or ListMaster (below). I've only recently started trying to use it, so I don't have a lot of experience with it, but it does seem to work, and it has a simple user interface that lets you define your data entry forms very quickly.

Another, slightly different style of app is ListMaster. It's essentially a cross between a spreadsheet app and a checklist app with a user interface tailored for the phone. You can create hierarchical categories of topics, then put spreadsheet-like-lists within them. You can define each row to have one or more columns, each accepting a different type of data. You can adjust the height of rows to make a pretty dense list (all their screenshots show ugly, huge spacing of rows, but it doensn't have to be that way) yet the whole thing is still usable with fingers. ListMaster also has an online web interface as well as a Dropbox interface for accessing your data. I've been using ListMaster for a long time (mostly for lists and not numerical data) and find it's a great tool.

Finally, another approach I've used successfully is to create a custom database with Zoho Creator, a web-based database builder. Zoho Creator is a very rich database system, with a GUI drag-and-drop builder interface. You can easily create a database for tracking projects. Each database then gets its own web page providing an interface for entering the data. It's not immediately obvious, but it turns out that the web browser interface that Zoho Creator presents on a mobile device is automatically customized to the smaller screen. It is much more usable than simply a regular web page forms interface – not as good as a native app interface, of course, but quite clean, well-sized, and usable. Combine this with the iPhone's built-in ability to create a button for a specific web page, and you can basically create your own one-button database app. The only disadvantage is that you must have a data connection to use it, whereas the apps mentioned above can be used off-line as well.
posted by StrawberryPie at 11:38 AM on January 1, 2014

Additional note: I didn't mean to make the text above seem like I thought the apps I mentioned are the only ones with those capabilities. There are other apps; I just didn't want to write about things I didn't know enough about. For instance, TicTrac is a relatively new one that looks beautiful and promising, but I haven't tried it yet.
posted by StrawberryPie at 12:47 PM on January 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Late to the game, but Track This For Me does exactly that. You can track anything!
posted by theRussian at 7:29 PM on January 3, 2014

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