Attendance

To support new features I couldn't in the original version given the original data structures, I developed a new Attendance2 app from scratch. Unless you need an app that runs on iOS 4, I highly recommend you buy the new Attendance2 app as new features are being added to it (only bug fixes will be made to the original Attendance app). As of version 2.0 of Attendance2 (released in January 2013) all major features of the original Attendance app along with many new features are included in the newer Attendance2 app. Because of changes Apple made to their development tools, I cannot easily add new features to the original app and still maintain iOS 4 compabitility. The new Attendance2 app requires iOS 5 or higher while the original app requires iOS 4 or higher. I stated I would support Attendance through iOS 6. Based on limited testing, it does appear to run ok (other than TextExpander expansion does not work) on iOS 7, but I do not promise it. More information on iOS 7 support of both Attendance and Attendance2 is at this blog post.

Attendance is a universal iPhone/Touch/iPad application. It allows you to take and keep attendance records. Its main intended use is for teachers to keep track of records for their classes, but it can also be used for meetings and group gatherings.

Attendance runs on iOS 4.0 and higher on the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone.

Macworld.com reviewed an early version of the app (link). Many great new features have been added since. The Chronicle of Higher Education ProfHacker blog posted a review here and then featured the app in a recent issue (link). Read the reviews in the iTunes store page here and see more features listed below.

There are some videos showing how to use Attendance along with my other apps on YouTube. See this link.

A searchable FAQ is available at: http://www.dave256apps.com/attendance-faq/

There is a list of features here. Below that are some basic instructions to get you started. By far the most challenging part of using of the app is, unfortunately, the first thing you need to do which is get your students' names into the app. Typing the names in by hand is easy, but tedious. I have various comma separated value (CSV) input options, but there is no way I can write the app so it automatically figures out every possible CSV format that people have. It is necessary to create a CSV file with the specified format to import data into Attendance. See below for the format and links to videos that show how to create and import CSV files into Attendance. I also cannot automatically import data from Blackboard and other course management systems since those require an encrypted login to access the data and do not provide an API for accessing the data. See the instructions below with links to the relevant videos for how to use the various import options and other features of Attendance.

The Introduction video gives you an overview of some, but not all of the features of Attendance, and you may want to watch it before buying it to learn about its features. The other videos show how to do specific tasks. See the bottom of this page for more information about various tasks and what each video describes. The Taking Attendance video shows how to use the various buttons on the screen while taking attendance.

Features:

  • Multiple methods for importing names
    • from a group in your Address Book
    • pasting contents of a CSV file (email data and copy)
    • importing a CSV attachment from your email (on iOS 3.2 and higher)
    • importing a CSV file stored in your Dropbox/Attendance folder (see http://www.dropbox.com)
    • from a CSV file stored on a web server
    • manual entry of names via virtual keyboard
    • use free trial version (or full paid version) of GradeA on a Mac to type in names
  • Unlimited number of courses and students per course
    • sort students by last name or first name
    • manually re-order students to match a seating order
  • Customizable attendance statuses
    • defaults statuses: Absent,Present,Late,Excused
    • can delete the defaults and add your own set of statuses
    • each course/group can have its own set of statuses
  • Photo support
    • automatically imports photo when importing from Address Book
    • take photo on iPhone
    • select photo from Photo Library (on iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad)
    • optionally view photos next to name while taking attendance
  • Copy students from one course to a new course
    • start a new course for a new term
    • create a new course with same students
  • Notes for
    • each course
    • each attendance date for a course
    • each student in a course
    • each student per date
  • Optional TextExpander Touch integration for notes and composing emails
    • requires separate purchase of TextExpander for iOS (available in the iOS App Store) from Smile to get snippet expansion
  • Email reports and compose emails to students
    • full spreadsheet report
    • records for a day
    • send email to all students in a course
    • send email to students who are absent on a given day
    • email individual attendance reports to each student
  • Backup your data
    • backup/restore from your Dropbox account
    • setting to email internal Attendance database (sqlite database file) to yourself
    • place database file on a web server to import it back into Attendance
  • Choose random students
    • choose individual students for answering questions
    • create random groups of sizes 2-30 (and email group members to yourself)
  • Optional in-app purchase for transferring your data to other devices
    • copy all data for the app between multiple iPhone OS devices over WiFi
    • can also use free option to backup/restore to Dropbox to copy data between devices

Getting Started with references to relevant videos:

Unless you already have your students in an Address Book group that you have synced with the iOS Contacts app, the best way to import your data is to create a comma separated value (CSV) file with your student information.

Attendance cannot directly access data behind password protected sites such as Blackboard, but most course management systems provide a way to export student names in CSV format.

The Creating CSV files video (link to video) shows how to create videos using TextEdit on the Mac or using Excel and making certain you save it in a plain text CSV format (not .xls or .xlsx format). On Windows, you can use Excel or Notepad or any other plain text editor (but not word processing programs that use a proprietary non-plain text format.

The first line must begin with a pound (#) sign to indicate you are specifying the order of the columns in the CSV file. Each subsequent line must contain the data for one student in the order specified by the header line. The supported headers you can use are: first,last,email,photo,extraemail,mobilephone,homephone,identifier,note

Do NOT put a space after the commas. Except for first (for the first name), all the headers are optional. Extra email allows you to enter multiple email addresses that need to be separated by spaces. The extraemail is for adding secondary email addresses or for K-12 classes, you may want to add both parents's email addresses.

A possible CSV file with three lines (two students) is: 

#last,first,email

Reed,Dave,dave256apps@me.com

Stroeh,John,fake@email.com

The simplest option to import this data is to email this file (with a file name that ends in .csv) to yourself as an attachment, open the email message on your iOS device, press and hold the attachment and choose the option to open it in Attendance. This option is available on iOS 3.2 and higher. 

If you also have photos to import the best option is to use a free Dropbox account. If you do not already have a Dropbox account, you can use this Dropbox referral link to get us both some extra free space. Create an Attendance subdirectory/folder in your Dropbox folder (i.e., Dropbox/Attendance) and put the CSV file along with the photos in the directory. Photos should not be much larger than 400x400 pixels as the various iOS devices have a limited amount of memory and trying to load large photos can cause the app to crash. Please resize them before importing.  A possible CSV file with three lines (two students) with photos is:

#last,first,email,photo

Reed,Dave,dave256apps@me.com,Dave.jpg

Stroeh,John,fake@email.com,John,jpg

Put the image files Dave.jpg and John.jpg in the Dropbox/Attendance folder along with the above CSV file. Launch the Attendance app, select the Add/View tab, choose the CSV in Dropbox/Attendance option. The first time you will be prompted to enter your Dropbox login and password. The username and password information is not stored in the app, but Dropbox does add a key the app stores so you will not need to enter the username and password again unless you choose the "Disconnect Dropbox Account". After entering your username/password, on the next screen select the CSV file you want to import. On the following screen, change Course Name to the name you want to use for the course and then press the Import button. If you are adding students to an existing course, choose the Existing option. Next select the course you want to add the names to from the list and then press the Import button. See this video for a demonstration of how to use this feature.

The full list of possible headers (i.e., you must use some subset of these headers) is:

#last,first,email,photo,extraemail,mobilephone,homephone,identifier,note

Other import options are to paste the CSV file. If you are running iOS 3.1 and do not want to use Dropbox, you can use this option since iOS 3.1 does not support opening email attachments in other apps. The end of the Creating CSV files video shows how to copy and paste the data from email into the Attendance app.

This video shows how to import data from an Address Book group that you have synced to your iOS device. Note that you cannot create Address Book groups on the iOS, but if you create them on your computer, they will sync on your device.

The Statuses video shows you how to create custom statuses, how to reorder the statuses to choose which status is the default status when adding a new date and how to specify the status for the button at the top right that gives all students that status when pressed.

Attendance uses a number of settings specified in the iOS Settings application. This video is from an old version of Attendance and does not include many of the new settings but shows how to access the settings.

The Auto Scroll in Take setting controls whether the names scroll automatically while taking attendance. If this setting is on, the names scroll when you change the status for a student near the bottom of the screen).

The Note in Spreadsheet setting controls whether or not the daily note for a student (accessed by pressing the blue arrow on the right side of the screen while taking attendance) is included in the spreadsheet report. If this setting is on, each date will have two columns in the spreadsheet report: one with the status and one with the note.

The Show Pictures in Take controls whether the pictures are shown to the left of the names while taking attendance and in the random groups on the Random tab. If you have an older device or a large number of names per class, this may slow down the performance of the app.

The "Bcc to Email group" controls if the email addresses are placed on the Bcc line (instead of the default To line when the setting is Off). Use this if you do not want recipients to see the email addresses of those the email was sent to. Some spam filters may block the email if the To line does not contain email addresses.

The Preferred Email setting controls whether the Home or Work address is imported when importing names from the Address book.

If you turn the "Import Other Email" setting on, the other email (Home if you specified Work and Work if you specified Home) is imported into the extra email addresses for the student.

The Red name missing count setting controls the number of statuses whose "in attendance" setting is off are needed to color the student's name red while taking attendance. It may be necessary to edit this status and put a number there even if you want to use the default value of 3.

The Use TE for Email setting controls if a separate screen is used for composing email using TextExpander snippets. TextExpander is a separate app available in the iOS app store developed by a separate company named Smile. A number of other apps also support TextExpander. 

The Email Percentages setting specifies whether the individual reports include the percentage for each status (i.e., if the student was Present eight times and absent twice, the report would include an 80% next to the Present total and 20% next to the Absent total).

The Picture source setting is no longer needed now that the Student Detail screen allows you to choose whether to use the camera or photo library after tapping the picture (or the Get/Take Picture image).