Confused about Integrations

I’m starting a project and need to track time spent by multiple members. There’s a plethora of apps out there and I thought integrating with Asana (I’m already planning the project with it) would be nice. But I’m a bit confused about how integrations work.

All the tutorials have me add a chrome extension. But I’m mobile only. I plan on using the Asana iOS app and a time tracker app. Does integration only work on the browser? Or can a mobile app access my Asana project via an API behind the scenes? And how do I set that up via the mobile apps without having to install a chrome extension?

I’ve been checking out clockify, hubstaff and toggl if any of those work.

Hi :wave:

You basically have two choices:
a) build a chrome extension that will interact with someone Asana when its opened
b) use the API to build your own app (or add features to your Chrome extension)

Does that help? In your case, it depends: where do you want people to start and stop the time tracking? From the Asana app itself?

To build on what Bastien said, in terms of if you’re wanting to use existing integrations and don’t have the resources or desire to write your own…

External apps which integrate with Asana basically all work by using the Asana API to read (and where relevant) write to Asana’s data. That API work occurs “in the background”; i.e. it’s not user-interface-related.

On top of the API communications, external integrations typically need some type of user interface to perform the user-interaction part of their integration. That UI aspect can be implemented in a number of ways - it could be done via a Chrome extension, via a separate website or web application, or an installable Windows/Mac application, to name three common approaches.

With that background, let’s tackle your questions…

No, as mentioned above, the user-interface part of an integration MAY work only on a browser if that’s how the external app developer chose to implement the UI portion; but it may not require a browser if they chose to write a separate app, etc.

It definitely could, if the developer wrote it that way. As mentioned the Asana API itself is always behind-the-scenes; it has no UI elements to it.

If you’re just talking about using an existing integration, it’s nothing you can set up; the developer has to have provided a way to do that as part of their integration.

If that’s the case, then it sounds like they’ve all chosen to implement the user-interface portion of their integration via a Chrome extension. If that’s true, then unfortunately you’re out of luck in terms of using them with a mobile-only solution.

I know my post here was a long-winded way of getting to this answer of “you’re out of luck”, but I wanted you to understand all of the background of the answer, since you asked to be “unconfused”. :slight_smile:

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Absolutely not long-winded. Thank you for the explanation. I think there are a few time tracking apps that you can enable integration with inside the Asana webapp (but not mobile app). I believe that enables background data sharing? One such example would be Harvest.

Ah, yes, I should have mentioned Harvest - they have a special arrangement with Asana; they’re currently the only external integration to my knowledge that has a UI element built directly into the Asana web app. But I guess that still leaves you out in the cold on mobile, unless you use the Asana web app on your mobile device instead of using the Asana native mobile apps.

The alternative would be to see if there’s a time-tracking app which just uses native Asana UI elements as its way of integrating - for example, maybe a time-tracking app that uses Asana tags as its way of telling the integration to track time for a particular task. A solution like that would work equally well on web, mobile, etc.

I should note that I have no need for a native button in Asana to track time. I just need the ability to enable sync between the time-tracking app and Asana projects and have the time tracking app be able to see (and use) my Asana projects.

Without adding a Chrome extension.

Please let us know here if you find one like that; it will help future searchers for that same thing!