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Last Updated: Oct 02, 2012

Timeline, a part of the SIMILE Widgets family of tools, is a free, open source tool for creating interactive timelines from temporal data utilizing JavaScript and web markup in HTML and XML.


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DocumentationAttributesUser Supplied Tags
Author(s): SIMILE Project
Created: Jul 05, 2012
Last Updated: Oct 02, 2012
Background processing Not applicable
Ease of use Moderate
Tool family Simile widgets
Type of analysis Miscellaneous, Visualization
Type of license Free, Open source
Web usable Web application you launch
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Comments
01
January 14, 2013 08:08 PM

SIMILE Widgets: Timeline is a free, open source tool for creating interactive timelines utilizing HTML, XML and JavaScript. SIMILE Widgets maintains a comprehensive Wiki-based user guide including numerous example timelines, and the full source code is available for download.

Creating a timeline requires a basic knowledge of HTML and JavaScript. All timelines are created in a plain-text document rather than in an application. SIMILE Widgets recommends using a text editor suitable for coding, or an HTML editor. SIMILE Widgets provides code that can be copied and pasted to start a new timeline in the Getting Started section of their wiki, including a Document Type Definition and link to Timeline's JavaScript API code. The same section also provides all HTML elements and Java scripts required to populate the timeline. All tutorials for Timeline features, here and in other parts of the wiki, contain example code and detailed explanations.

The timeline defaults to two horizontal bands, the top representing months and the bottom years, with events superimposed upon them. Users can add or remove bands as needed. Events are loaded into the timeline from a separate XML, JSON or SPARCL file. Individual events can take one of three forms, allowing users to distinguish between durations, instantaneous events with an imprecise start point, and instantaneous events with a precise start point. For timelines with many events on the same day, an hour-by-hour 'hot zone' addition can be made, allowing finer granularity without sacrificing clarity. Users can customize most presentational details, such as the colours, icons, captions and overarching theme, including adjusting the timeline's CSS to add a background images, change the font characteristics and so on.

SIMILE Widgets: Timeline can easily accommodate timeline projects as large as several hundred events spanning thousands of years; the project has provided an example timeline of this size comparing Jewish and Christian religious history from 1AD to the present to show the tool's behavior and potential when handling such large datasets. Individual timelines must be embedded into a web page for viewing, with the source files hosted by the user. Control over the timeline's information and files remain with the user.

As a whole, SIMILE Widgets: Timeline is recommended as a versatile and scalable approach to timeline creation, though users unfamiliar with HTML, XML or JavaScript may find it challenging. However, those users willing to learn the coding required will find it well-documented and rewarding.

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