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Using Github issues to track house repairs (github.com/frabcus)
75 points by aaronpk on Dec 24, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 43 comments

I once suggested to my wife that we use the RT bug-tracking system to keep track of household chores. And then, I said, we could create an RT account for each of the kids, and buy each of the kids an iPad Mini, with the Safari homepage set to the RT page, so that as soon as they opened their browsers, they could see what chores they had to do, and easily report on their progress!

For some reason, she was not convinced.

I don't think something like that should be tied too much to the device itself; it should rather act like a hub than a device in that regard.

For instance, you could employ geofencing and remind them of daily chores they may have forgotten, when they leave the house. Of course, geofencing is pretty imprecise at the moment - at least on my iPhone 4.

Much the same way, you could ask them to fetch something from the grocery store, if they're nearby or already there. That way, it gets less annoying than a text message at work, instance.

Having to check a website or app for chores is something that itself feels like a chore. Automated reminders and such that ping the person are the way to go, I think. Or electronics built into daily appliances and such.

Something like this could be done with an app that I had helped to build called Reminders with Friends [http://www.slyceapps.com/reminders]. We allow you to create goefenced reminders and send them to other users.

You're not alone in wanting to leverage the power of an issue tracker for more mundane tasks (Eventum, in my case: https://launchpad.net/eventum). Efficient as they may be, even I was reluctant to allow family members to create tickets for me. But the main reason I haven't done it is that taking a break from work shouldn't mean spending more time at the computer. It would be handy for tracking major projects, though, especially since it helps to organize contact information in a meaningful context.

I use Astrid Tasks on my Android devices, and I've used it similarly. It lets you create task lists that can be shared among multiple users, so it's really handy to have some shared lists like "Home", "Shopping", etc. that sync across other people in the household. Plus it comes with a nice home screen widget, allows for recurring tasks, supports comments on tasks, and other helpful things.

I've been looking at chore monster and chore wars for much the same purpose. I've tried using dry issue tracking systems, and for as creative as these "gamified" options are, I still don't see them having enough hook to truly integrate into the family routine.


Request Tracker. I used it for a few years for tracking IT requests and it is solid for general request... tracking. Lots of plugins, very mature.


I'd suggest not adding stuff like "Front door lock stopped working" or "No one to watch the house while we're on vacation next week".

Is there any particular reason you are using GitHub issues instead of a more traditional todo list app?

I'd be worried about strangers opening issues about my house...

I'm the person who's repository and issue tracker (and house!) this is. I've been using Github for tracking house issues for nearly a year.

Partly I chose Github for user experience - it's a pretty good and simple issue tracker.

Partly it was ease of setup time, Github was to hand.

Partly I'm curious whether it being public can help. People might come and give advice on bugs, and in theory workmen could turn up and give me spontaneous quotes.

I was going to write a blog post about it before posting to Hacker News, looks like somebody else beat me to it!

GitHub's Issues system is pretty undervalued as a workflow/project management system. Especially once you learn to use milestones regularly.

It also lets you tack on collaborators to share the blame and responsibility. :)

Of course, you could well argue that it's a problem that it doesn't have the push, alert, and geofencing capabilities that make to-do services great to have.

So true. I use it to track every detail of my personal projects and never had the feeling that anything was missing.

> Is there any particular reason you are using GitHub issues instead of a more traditional todo list app?

Better support for discussions and tagging/prio?

Time stamps, collaboration, accessible from anywhere, etc

Have a look at Astrid Tasks; It's what I use, and supports all of that.

I worry that an app like Astrid wouldn't live the long life of my house, whereas GitHub might.

That's funny, though I think something like Trello is more appropriate for this.

Trello is definitely better suited for something like this. Heck, Kitchen Remodeling is even used as an example on their Tour page: https://trello.com/tour.

The reasons for using GH Issues that frabcus mentioned, such as simplicity, setup time, being public, etc. are all covered by Trello as well. In my opinion, GH Issues shines when used with an actual software project, otherwise you're better off using something else.

I got my wife to use it for home projects and it actually works really well.

It can be, although to help I created an app that turns Github issues into a kanban/trello style board http://compiledexperience.com/windows-apps/hub-bug

We started using Trello at work and a QA on the team instituted it at home with his children for household chores.

On a related note, it's funny that "issue tracking" is somewhat constrained to software development (or, put another way, the software development domain has some of the better tools for the task) when it's really applicable across industries.

Several years ago I put together a very-slightly-modified version of Trac (http://trac.edgewall.org) to keep track of maintenance issues with a vehicle fleet. It's worked nearly flawlessly for years and serves the purpose extremely well.

Are there any commercial projects that have taken this approach? "Software-style issue tracking for brick-and-mortar businesses"

  > it's funny that "issue tracking" is somewhat constrained 
  > to software development
In other industries they're just called something else, "help tickets", "work orders", etc.

Other industries often have approaches to issue tracking which predate the adoption of computerization within them, e.g. redlines in design industries or proofreader's annotations for writing.

This is why I love BitBucket's unlimited free private repositories.

I'd just prefer a pen and paper :-|

You should take a look at http://www.redbeacon.com/my-home/ Its a tool built specifically for tracking household repairs and projects. Plus, Redbeacon can connect you with home service pros (plumbers, handymen, etc) if you need help with any of your tasks.

disclaimer - I'm an engineer at Redbeacon. Many of the team members use our My Home tool for all kinds of projects around the house.

I recently began using a support ticket system (OS ticket) for similar reasons. Everytime I find something that needs maintenance around my house or building, I email support and it makes a ticket, which is then routed to the right employee to fix it. My welder does most of the building repairs, and he gets contractors for bigger projects. Now I can just look at the notes on the support ticket to see what has happened.

I think this is cute but I would be worried about trolls unless you have it locked down somehow.

You can get a private repo or just sort by issues created by yourself, FWIW.

I just figured he open-sourced his house so more people could "contribute" to the repair work.

Really not an issue. I haven't had any, and have been using it for a year!

Well it took significant willpower not to submit a pull request for a screened-in porch and a water slide ...

I think it's better to use a tool that is more than a simple todo list. It should be specific to your home and it should learn what your home needs. http://redbeacon.com/my-home

if his place looks nicer than mine, I'm going to clone it. Cue the "You wouldn't steal a car" brigade....

Using a free account for that type of application is an abuse of Github. Free accounts are for open source projects. Get yourself a payed account for that.

We don't view it as an abuse at all! We dig fun uses of GitHub like this. Carry on, and good luck with the house.

I wouldn't consider this abuse of the tool. I'm also learning a few things about the home improvement process from this. Isn't that the point of the open source movement -- shared knowledge for the improvement of others?

I don't think free public repositories are gift to the open source community, but freemium system designed to get people to convert to paid accounts with additional features. This project doesn't require the additional features.

Actually, there are no extra features with GH's paid plans, from what I remember. Paying enables private repositories, and all of the good stuff is still available for open source projects.

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