Friday, January 01, 2016

2015 Annual Task List Statistics

At the end of last year, I decided to start collecting some statistics about my ever-changing software development task list. To do that, I wrote a script that ran once per day and recorded some interesting information from my task list manager (a flat text file) and the number of open tabs in Firefox. What follows are some interactive (oooooh, shiny!) charts and some analysis:

The number of tasks on my task list peaked twice this year at 78 tasks and dropped one time to 54 tasks. The number of tasks appears to be decreasing according to the trend line in the first chart. However, the second chart tells a slightly different story. Even though the number of tasks is on the decrease, the file size of the text file in which the tasks are stored is apparently on the increase. This tells me that the overall complexity of each individual task is slightly higher or I'm just slightly better at documenting details so I don't forget what the task entails (or some combination of both).

The final chart is probably the most interesting and perhaps the most telling. It shows how many open tabs I have in Firefox. Firefox is my primary web browser in which I do all of my research for my software development. I tend to close a bunch of tabs around the time I release a new version of my software. As a result, I figured it would be a good measure of my development habits. During the early part of the year, I got the number of open tabs down to 70. And that's the lowest it went. At the early part of December, however, the number of open browser tabs dramatically spiked to 244 and dropped to 90 open tabs just a couple of weeks later. If you look at my forum activity around the time the tabs dropped, you see a correlation to when I teased a new piece of software and how much I really dislike certain aspects of the Windows API. About 150 browser tabs were open for various bits of information to help construct a brand new piece of software. The overall trend line for browser tabs is, of course, on the increase. I have a feeling, based on the official 2016 CubicleSoft project list, that the increasing line will remain the trend.

There are other drops in task and tab counts that correlate to various software releases. I'm personally most interested in overall trends. I really want to see the number of tasks diminish over time. I'd like to see complexity on the decrease too. It would be awesome to completely wipe out all of my browser tabs. None of those are particularly realistic, but I can dream. There are projects I need to do to get to a point where I feel like software has stabilized.

(By the way, I'm aware the spreadsheet that the data is in is public. There's not much else in the data beyond what is seen in the charts but maybe someone will come up with some additional and interesting anecdotes.)