#gtk #reminder #gui #break

bin+lib break-time

An app to force you to take breaks regularly while using the computer

3 releases

0.1.2 Sep 1, 2020
0.1.1 Jul 19, 2020
0.1.0 Jul 19, 2020

#204 in GUI

MIT license

195KB
2K SLoC

break-time

Actions Status crates.io dependency status MIT license

break-time is an application that forces you to take breaks while working at your computer. This is convenient for people that want to avoid sitting for too long, or staring at the computer screen for too long.

The main feature of break-time is that there is no easy way to end a break early. Once a break starts, you are forced to stop using your computer. However, there are plugins provided to avoid breaks at inconvenient times. For instance, there is a plugin to avoid having a break occur during a time when you have an event on your Google Calendar, as well as a plugin to avoid a break when you are on a video chat in Google Meet.

break-time currently only runs on Linux with X11. However, PRs are welcome adding support for other platforms and window systems.

Installing

break-time requires a few system libraries to be available. On Debian/Ubuntu systems, these can be installed with the following command:

$ sudo apt-get install libgtk-3-dev libxcb-screensaver0-dev

After this, you can install break-time with cargo:

$ cargo install break-time

Usage

Once break-time is installed, I suggest running it once so that it creates a configuration file. Immediately kill it with Ctrl-C after running it.

$ break-time
^C

break-time should create a configuration file in ~/.config/break-time/config.toml. Open up this configuration file in a text editor to see what options are available. If the explanations for any options are not understandable, please open an issue.

The most interesting option will probably be accounts (or plugin.google_calendar.accounts). This is described in the next section.

After you have configured break-time, run it again.

$ break-time

break-time will countdown until it is time for the next break.

break-time will create a systray icon. If you mouse over it, it will tell you how many minutes are left until your next break. If you right click on the systray icon, you can pause and resume the break countdown timer.

When it is time for your next break, break-time will pop up a screen telling you to take a break. You won't be able to close this screen until either the break-time is over, or you press the spacebar 400 times.

Plugins

break-time has plugins that are used to prevent a break from occurring. Right before a break is about to occur, break-time queries all the plugins and asks if it is really okay to start a break. This section explains how the plugins work and how to configure them.

X Window Titles (Video Chat)

The X Window Title plugin checks whether or not there is an X Window with a given name and title.

This is convenient to stop a break from occurring when you're in a video chat.

Currently, this plugin only checks for a few specific window names and titles. You can see what window names and titles are checked for in this function.

If you want additional applications to be supported, please open an issue or send a PR modifying this function.

One way to check if this plugin is working is start break-time with a short break interval, and then open https://meet.google.com/ in Firefox or Chromium. break-time should not start a break while https://meet.google.com/ is open (and the currently focused tab).

Google Calendar

The Google Calendar plugin checks whether or not there is an event on your Google Calendar currently occurring. If there is an event, the plugin stops break-time from starting a break.

This is convenient to stop a break from happening when you're in a meeting at work.

This plugin requires some configuration before it can be used. First, you must add your Gmail address to the break-time configuration file, ~/.config/break-time/config.toml. The accounts (or plugin.google_calendar.accounts) field should be set to a list of your Gmail addresses. I suggest only adding one at a time.

If your Gmail address is example@gmail.com, the configuration file will look like the following:

[plugin.google_calendar]
accounts = [ "example@gmail.com", ]

After adding this, restart break-time. break-time should output a message like the following:

$ break-time
Please direct your browser to https://accounts.google.com/o/oauth2/auth... and follow the instructions displayed there.

Make sure you are signed in to example@gmail.com in your browser (and not another email address). Follow the link. You should be presented with a "Choose an account" page (as long as you have multiple Gmail accounts). Make sure you choose example@gmail.com.

Next, you'll be presented with a warning that the break-time app is not verified. Click the "Advanced" link, and then "Go to Break Time (unsafe)".

(This is currently necessary because I haven't completed the verification request from Google for use of the Google Calendar API. See issue #11 for slightly more information.)

The next screen will ask you to grant break-time the following two permissions:

  • View events on all your calendars

    This allows break-time to check the start and end times of the events on your calendar.

  • View your calendars

    This allows break-time to determine what calendars you have, in order to determine where to check for events.

Once you grant break-time these permissions, break-time will save an OAuth token to disk in ~/.cache/break-time/google-calendar/. This will allow break-time to continue checking your Google Calendar without having to go through this authorization step again in the future.

Note that break-time doesn't store your calendar data on disk, and it definitely doesn't transmit it over the network after receiving it from the Google Calendar API. If you're worried about using this plugin, I'd recommend reading the source code of the google_calendar.rs. The only security concern is that break-time stores an OAuth token to disk so that it can re-use it next time you start break-time.

If you want to use break-time with multiple Google Calendar accounts, you can add multiple addresses to plugin.google_calendar.accounts. Although, I suggest only adding an account and doing authorization one at a time.

One way to check if this plugin is working is to set a short break interval, and create an event on your calendar. break-time should not start a break while an event is taking place.

Why

I noticed I was sitting in front of my computer for excessively long periods of time. I thought this was starting to lead to neck and shoulder pain, so I wanted to find a way to force myself to take more breaks.

I tried a couple solutions, including a manual kitchen timer, timers on my phone, applications like Stretchly, etc. However, I've never found anything that really worked well.

I have three main problems with other solutions:

  • It is too easy to ignore the breaks. When using a timer on my phone, I would often turn off the alarm and continue working. When using Stretchly, I would often exit out of it whenever a break started.

    break-time fixes this by making it really hard to skip breaks. Once a break starts, you're forced to step away from your computer.

  • Breaks occur at inconvenient times. You never want a break to occur when you're doing something important, like in a meeting or in a video chat.

    break-time fixes this by having plugins to detect when you're in a meeting or in a video chat.

  • There is no warning that a break is coming. With other solutions, it is frustrating when a break suddenly occurs in the middle of your work.

    break-time fixes this by having a countdown timer in the systray icon. You get a five-minute heads-up to wrap up any code you're writing, messages you're writing on Slack, documentation you're reading, etc.

break-time is one of the first non-trivial Rust programs I've created, currently at around 2,500 lines (including whitespace and comments).

The main difficulty in writing break-time was trying to find a good abstraction to deal with all the concurrent code. In the end, I don't feel like I was able to do this, but I created an issue to think of how to improve this.

Contributions

Feel free to open an issue or PR for any bugs, problems, suggestions, or improvements.

Dependencies

~31MB
~750K SLoC