Just-released webapp Freckle isn't, as it proclaims, a whole-cloth re-thinking of time tracking, billing, and client management, but it is refreshingly light, agile, and easy to get into. Like Remember the Milk and other text-aware apps, it doesn't require learning an entirely new input system, but knows that "1h35m" and "1:35" mean the same thing. The AJAX-saturated interface requires very few refreshes, and the smart tagging system works well for those who tend to "organise" on the fly. The fleshed-out version of Freckle isn't free, but they do offer 30-day trials on any account type, along with a very limited free account. Walk through screenshots and analysis of using Freckle for organizing billable hours and client work below.
First off, the pricing and plans:
Once you've signed up with an account, free or otherwise, you'll probably want to add your
username.letsfreckle.com address to your bookmark toolbar. Your basic dashboard should load fairly quick, especially once the images are cached, and it's where you get everything done in three tab-able boxes. Enter the time however you'd like in the first box—it rounds up based on a project-specific time increment setting you can configure. The second box is the name of the project you're entering time for, which, in my free-only account, is simply "Project." The last box is the action tag for the time spent, and it drops down, WordPress-style, to help you recycle action names. Add a * to the end of the tag, and it's listed as non-billable.
The "Pulse" tab, accessed from a nicely unobtrusive right-hand menu bar, isn't a full report, but gives you an at-a-glance look at what you've been doing today, yesterday, and in recent history in text and graph, and a link to configure budgets on any particular project. If you had something other than a free account, and shared your Freckle use with other workers, you could see what they were up to also.
The actual reports are more straight-forward, and include a link to download and print as a CSV file.
What do you look for in a time tracking app, whether desktop or web based? What features or functions put one over another? Tell us how you score the field in the comments.