Every once in a while, I get an idea that turns out to be bigger than I thought was. Such is the case with the Meltdown 2008 timeline I debuted in the previous post.
That timeline is still developing. (Which means I’m still adding to it.) But before I could start the process of putting it together, I had to figure out a way to do it. That lead to even more time researching online timeline-building tools. I didn’t know they existed before, let alone that there were so many. But now that I’ve settled on which to use for this project, I wanted to share what I learned from my research about what else is out there.
Of the tools that I tried, here are the ones that stood out for one reason or another.
Out of all the tools I looked at, I kept coming back to Dipity. The ease of use, combined with the ability to incorporate pictures, videos and Google Maps into timelines, along with the abilities to invite other editors and to customize the embed code set it apart from the other services. My only complaint is that I couldn’t seem to customize the look of the timeline on the website, just the embed code. Maybe there’s a way to do that and I missed it.
It just had everything. I’ll be interested to see how their 2.0 page works after it’s launched.
CircaVie runs a very close second. Since it’s part of AOL, you can sign on with your AIM screen name if you have one, or with your OpenID. I posted an 80s timeline from CircaVie earlier. This time I’ve created a timeline of the stories at the LGBT Hate Crimes Project.
CircaVie has an ease of use that makes for a very low learning curve. It lacks at least one feature that Dipity has — maps, if that’s important to you — but doesn’t suffer for it. The styling option for your timeline are kind of limited, but it’s got enough variety that you’ll find one you at least like, if not love.
The reason I posted an image is because I couldn’t find a way to embed the Capzle. The site doesn’t appear to have that feature. Instead, you can share you cazples or favorite capzles with friends via email.
Miomi seems to work the same way. There’s an interesting community aspect that basically lets you use events from the common timeline as well as create your own.
This Malcolm X timeline is a pretty good example. It’s great looking, but again, if there’s a way to embed your timeline once it’s done, I couldn’t find it. Lacking that feature makes it less valuable to me, but that might not be their audience. They may not be looking for people who obsessively post web content. But if I want to share a timeline, I’m probably going to want to post it somewhere, so that people can see it.
Next was Mnemograph. This actually came close to being my choice for the Meltdown 2008 timeline. I liked the look of it, and the gallery feature that allowed me to upload a scrapbook of pictures I could access later for repeated use.
Also, you can adjust the size of items in your timeline, making the ones you want to emphasize larger than the rest.This is the first one I came across that also imports data from various sources. You can import from an RSS feed, import public pictures from Flickr, and import event from Wikipedia (one year at a time).
It has limitations, too. I don’t recall being able to customize my timeline, by changing color, etc. I didn’t see any way of adding videos either. And the images are added separately from events. They even have their own link. Of course the images can be events, if you add the necessary information.
Viygo combined some of the best features of Mnemograph and CircaVie.
It’s incredibly easy to use, imports events from RSS feeds, and interacts with Twitter and Upcoming. On the downside, you can’t really customize the look. You can customize the embed code, but the minimum width is 548px for some reason. It’s less useful that the ones above, if you ask me, but it might suit someone else’s purposes.
XTimeline was probably my third place pic, because it had features I found on Dipity as well, including the ability to invite other editors and to close comments.
The embed code is customizable in terms of size, but not in terms of how it’s going to look. Your timline will have the same green background as every other timeline on the site. But hey, at least it has an embed code.
TimeToast has all the same basic features as the ones I mentioned before.
The embed code is customizable if you enter the desired width, but the height (400) can’t be changed, and the minimum width is 300. Not bad, actually. But that’s all that can be changed. You’re stuck with the same blue background as everyone else. Though I imagine that when services like TimeToast and the others get out of beta, they will probably offer extra features for the right price.
Finally, TimeRime was pretty impressive.
The features, by now, are pretty much the same, though I didn’t see where to add video, other than as a text link in an event. And the embed code isn’t customizable. But other than that, there’s much there to like.
So, if for some reason you need to construct a timeline, there are a few ways to do it online.