I'm in the planning stage for a small research project where we're trying to establish how distractions affect the workflow in an operating room. The idea is to observe the operation and document every distracting event (people opening doors, beepers/phones going off, alarms sounding, etc.).

What I'm looking for is a tool that allows us to

  • quickly and easily document the start/end of certain predefined events which may overlap
  • take free notes for unexpected and other events
  • while automatically storing them in a timeline, so we can later correlate the events with an audio recording and the standard OR report.

Ideally, the tool would then allow us to export the data in a form like

Start               End                  Type                  Notes
20140226-09:00:10   20140226-09:00:15    Phone rings               
20140226-09:03:20   20140226-09:05:25    Noise from other OR   Emergency in OR 2
20140226-09:04:20   20140226-09:05:00    Phone call            Lab results
20140226-09:14:45   20140226-09:15:35    Phone call            Surgeon's mother complaining
20140226-09:27:55   20140226-09:28:00    Other                 A/C making strange noise

This should run on a Windows laptop or an Android/iOS tablet. I'm open to all suggestions, though.

2 Answers 2



I made this C# Windows Form yesterday. It uses a SQLite data source. The app is not finished because the export function is not there, however if you desire to see if you can use it, you can use it with http://sqliteadmin.orbmu2k.de/ to export the data. The SQLite DB file is called test.s3db located in the release.zip file. When you extract the zip files, keep all the files in one place.

You can pre-add events through manage or you can add them on the fly. You can also delete events through the manage menu bar.

It was compiled with .NET framework 4.5/Visual Studio 2012.

URL: https://www.dropbox.com/s/37a9lncbn4snjfb/datarecorder.zip


The timeline project works pretty well for this - Its got an easy UI for creating events (I've shown the options that would work best for your needs already selected- add more events makes sense when you want to input more than one event at once), you can colour code them by setting categories. You can also add freeform data under descriptions, and these are viewable as a tooltip when you hover over the timeline entry

enter image description here

Here's the interface - I've set it to fit day so you can see events in a day, and set categories for some entries. enter image description here

The save file is XML and looks vaguely like this

  <start>2014-02-28 10:03:00</start>
  <end>2014-02-28 12:03:00</end>
  <text>test 2</text>
  <category>Test 2</category>
  <description>This is a test. The nannybot went crazy and put a nappy on the butlerbot.</description>

If you absolutely need it as csv, you may be able to use a third party tool - I used xml to csv conversion tool and of the files it output, the 'event.csv' file had the same information as the timeline xml file. You may find another tool works better, but I generated a csv file similar to this

"2014-02-28 10:02:00","2014-02-28 11:02:00","test","False","False","False","Test 2","",0
"2014-02-28 10:03:00","2014-02-28 12:03:00","test 2","False","False","False","Test 2","This is a test. The nannybot went crazy and put a nappy on the butlerbot.",0
"2014-02-28 11:29:00","2014-02-28 11:29:00","test3","False","False","False","Test Test 1","",0

You can then load it into a spreadsheet and output/reformat it any way you need easily.

  • This looks very nice, but it appears I have to enter the start/end times manually; there's no "Now" button. Right? Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 6:33
  • Well, the time it seems to pick by default for the start of an event is the current time. And yeah, you need to enter a end time, at the very least. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 6:35

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