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Timeline software?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by HiddenVale, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. HiddenVale

    HiddenVale Dreamer

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    One visual manifestation of world-building, alongside making family trees, mapping, and drawing, is making timelines/chronologies of your world's history.
    Does anyone know of software or a website where you can make your own? If you search for "Timeline creator", the results will either be Timeline Generators, which are different, or real-world timeline templates that are designed for elementary school teachers.
    I've failed to find a place where you can input your own year-values.
     
  2. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    Have you considered using Excel? The date/time heads the column, and each row pertains to a given person, group, place, thing, or whatever you're tracking. You can insert new columns if you need to add new times of interest between others, and you aren't restricted to tracking by years, but can go down to as fine a resolution on the time scale as you want. And you don't have to use real-world calendar months. Your headers are what you want them to be. Within a given row, you can make cells that span multiple columns, if you want to depict a longer duration than the average. You can set background colors for different types of events.

    You can freeze the first column, so that when you scroll across, you keep the names of characters/groups/places/things in view. If you get too many rows in your spreadsheet, you can create another sheet within the same file, so that you never have to scroll down the page, thus keeping the date/time headers in view.

    It depends on what exactly you want from your timeline software. If you want it to calculate how many days/weeks/months/years there are between two selected events, and you're using the Gregorian calendar, you might be able to do something with formulas in Excel. You'd just have to set it up yourself. But Excel is quite flexible in this regard, so if you can't find anything else that gives you exactly what you want with the convenience you're hoping for, you might get a good deal of what you want from Excel. Generally, I don't push MS products, but Excel is quite good for many uses, imo.
     
  3. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Aeon Timeline is great. Not free, but allows you to create fictional timelines.

    There's a fairly steep learning curve.
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Timeline software does exist, just search for it. I've never found anything that seemed worth the effort.
     
  5. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    I know its not the answer anyone is looking for, but I do all my writing in word and use excel at times to keep notes. I am just as likely to write in notepad (I only use word for the spell check anyway), and for more complex things, like maps or maybe quick notes, I just plain old pencil and paper. If I was doing a timeline, I would probably use excel or paper.
     
  6. HiddenVale

    HiddenVale Dreamer

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    Like I said, I initially did just that. I'll give Aeon a look as Fifthview mentioned.
     
  7. claramcalister

    claramcalister Scribe

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    Honestly, I always just wrote it out in Word or something. I never thought to use software to do it, but now that I'm thinking about it it doesn't seem to be a bad idea- especially for someone more visual than textual, like myself.
     
    pmmg likes this.
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    If you have a Mac, Ulysses makes something like this pretty easy.
     
  9. HiddenVale

    HiddenVale Dreamer

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    Right, what I have done and developed for many years is a chronology (in a Google Doc) in list-form, which I assume is what you mean. It works as perfectly as it can.
    But with timelines, as opposed to annals, you can of course visualize duration and the relative times of events. Because this is so very simple, I'm frustrated there isn't software that provides a from-scratch customizable timeline.
     
  10. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Awesome program. I've got my non-Gregorian calendar input, and it really helped in keeping times and dates straight when tracking multiple characters through a 21 day window of the first novel. And got the various "ages" input. Nifty little program. I preferred the learning curve to muddling through excel. But, it depends on how crazy you're getting with the history.

     
    Russ likes this.
  11. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Another vote for Aeon Timeline. I use it and quite like it. Don't find it hard at all and I am not very computer skilled.

    I think I read that it can interface somehow with Scrivener, which I also use, but have not tried that yet.
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  12. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Just bought it. Looks good. I especially like that it allows for characters, places and arcs, and that it can be modified to accommodate a fantasy calendar. I don't think Excel can do that!

    Also, there is indeed syncing with Scrivener
    Scrivener and Ulysses Syncing | Aeon Timeline
    Not at all sure how this would work, especially with a WIP, or how much Scrivener-side work needs to be done first. If you search on Aeon Scrivener sync, you'll find some videos, too. There are videos for everything, these days, so I reckon that advice was superfluous.

    Anyway, I'm definitely going to use this for A Child of Great Promise.
     
  13. claramcalister

    claramcalister Scribe

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    Yes! Chronology is exactly what I was talking about. I just did mine in Word as opposed to a Doc- not that there's really much difference lol. I'm frustrated there isn't a more visual software, too.

    Side Note: I did find this "how to" for MS Office that apparently allows you to create a Timeline using the "Smart Art" feature. I also found this one called Vizzlo, and another simply called Timeline. Unfortunately it looks like most places you can create a nice Timeline outside outside of Word are... Not free, severely limited, or just not attractive (if that matters to anyone else but me). I mean, you could conceivably make one in something like photoshop, too. But having better options for simplistic input browser software (that's free, simple to use, and looks good) would be really nice.
     
  14. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I haven't used the Scrivener interface much (yet) I think I started it... but never got around to fully working the system. In faact, I forgot about that totally, so thanks for the reminder, LOL. As book 2 progresses, that could be useful.

    I'll also agree with Russ, I don't think the learning curve is too rough. I've got a totally custumized timeline and it really didn't take long. But, who knows, some things click faster for some people than others. CAD programs are that way, too. The instructions for the program are pretty solid, I think.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
  15. HiddenVale

    HiddenVale Dreamer

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    Ah so you have it. Does Aeon feature the simple dates-scattered-along-a-horizontal-line-with-a-year-scale timeline?
     
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