Tracking Distributed Teams

One challenge of working on a distributed team is keeping track of everyone’s time zone. Most of my immediate team are Europe-based, and my colleagues in the Open Source Mano project are spread across the world. That makes timely collaboration complex. I often need to coordinate a task with someone several timezones away. If I miss them, I have to wait until my next day to talk to them. Not very efficient.

To that end, I went looking for an application that could show me, at a glance, what time it was for my co-workers and colleagues.

What I found, and ultimately settled on, is a GNOME extension called Timezone. It runs as an AppIndicator that, when clicked, will display a table of time zones and people in them.

GNOME Timezone extension

It displays the time in red if it’s outside the person’s working hours, which is a nice visual cue. I know it’s too late to get a reply from them, so I’d best send an email that they can see during their next business day.

It works by parsing a json file containing the name, timezone, city, and (optionally) an avatar to use for each entity.

[
    {
        "name": "David",
        "city": "Bilbao",
        "github": "davigar15",
        "tz": "Europe/Madrid"
    },
    {
        "name": "Dominik",
        "city": "Madrid",
        "avatar": "file:///home/stone/.local/share/people/dominik.jpg",
        "tz": "Europe/Madrid"
    },
    {
        "name": "Jayant",
        "avatar": "file:///home/stone/.local/share/people/jayant.jpg",
        "tz": "Asia/Kolkata"
    },
    {
        "name": "Arno",
        "city": "Belgium",
        "avatar": "file:///home/stone/.local/share/people/arno.jpg",
        "tz": "CET"
    },
    {
        "name": "Tytus",
        "avatar": "file:///home/stone/.local/share/people/tytus.jpg",
        "city": "Poland",
        "tz": "CET"
    },
    {
        "name": "Eduardo",
        "city": "Portugal",
        "avatar": "file:///home/stone/.local/share/people/eduardo.jpg",
        "tz": "GMT"
    }
]

It’s feature-light (it would be nice to have a settings page to manage people instead of creating a json file), but the important thing is that it works well for what it does.

The source can be found on Github and can be installed from GNOME Extensions.

Avatar
Adam Israel
Author ꞏ Genealogist ꞏ Software Engineer

My interests include genealogy, cloud computing, and all things open source.

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