Development Update

It has been a while since we posted any development news (especially since, until now, I neglected to update the blog following our iOS release last year), but plenty has been worked on behind the scenes in that time.

In the second half of last year we gathered feedback from users on their writing tools and workflow, how Aeon Timeline integrates with that, and some of the pain points in that process.

Since that time, we have been hard at work adding new features and redesigning existing parts of the application to better assist with that workflow.

Some of the key areas we will address include:

Writing Projects

  • Addition of a Narrative View that lays out events in Parts, Chapters, and Scenes, with an order that is potentially independent of the chronological order shown in the Timeline View
  • Support for initial planning with flat, non-time-based event sequences: that is, an ordered series of plot points that is independent of both date/time and narrative structure (chapters and scenes), which may include events that never end up in either view
  • Non-linear, subway-style timeline view showing how arcs or characters intersect with key events
  • Improved automation when syncing with Scrivener and Ulysses to minimise the manual effort involved

Project Management

  • Improved dependency support (Blocks/Blocked By, Finish-to-Start, Finish-to-Finish, Start-to-Start, Start-to-Finish) that is not tied directly to date calculations (i.e. Blocks equates to “anytime after X”, rather than “exactly at the end of X”).
  • Notifications system to alert the user to issues such as violated constraints, over-allocated resources, etc.

Everyone

  • Spreadsheet-style outline view to enable faster data entry
  • Better integration of entities (people, locations, projects, story arcs) into the overall interface
  • Further flexibility in allowing multiple event “types” (e.g. Epic, Story, Task for Project Management, or Scene vs Flashback for Fiction), relationships between entities as well as events, and additional properties that can be applied to all entities
  • Mindmap View to visually show the relationships between events and entities
  • Calendar markers to mark specific dates in the timeline (e.g. birthdays, holidays) without impacting the layout of the timeline itself.
  • Split views to enable the user to see different views, or apply different filters, to different sets of data
  • Updated desktop user interface more in keeping with our newer iOS design.

Some of our ideas are still works-in-progress and will need further validation with early-user testing etc. so it is a little early to share designs and screenshots that are subject to change, but we will begin those alpha tests within the next few months and share the results soon after.