What are External Links?

Events can have links with images and documents on the local computer, a network drive, or over the internet. If the timeline is configured to show images, it will be the first linked image will be shown on the timeline when an event is expanded (the green arrow is clicked).

In the Links tab in the Inspector you can:

  • Add new links by clicking on the + symbol, and then either typing a title and URL/path for the file, or by clicking on the Browse button and selecting a file.
  • Edit existing links by clicking on the edit icon and then changing link details.
  • Remove existing links by clicking on the edit icon and then clicking Remove.

The icons underneath each link allow you to perform the following additional actions:

  • Mac-only: View it inside Aeon Timeline using its Quicklook plugin
  • Reveal the link in Finder (Mac) or Windows Explorer (Windows)
  • Open the file in its default application

How external links are maintained

Unlike some file package formats including Scrivener Projects and Microsoft Word, Aeon Timeline does not make a copy of linked resources inside the Aeon Timeline file. Instead, it maintains a link to the document’s external location on the file system.

There are several benefits to this approach, the most critical of which being the following:

  • Aeon Timeline can retain a light and portable XML file format
  • As documents are not copied, Aeon Timeline will always be able to link to the most recent version of the file where an internally copied document would “go stale”.

The downside to this approach is that the user may move or delete events in their file system, which may in turn lead to broken links (documents that cannot be found by Aeon Timeline).

To counteract this, Aeon Timeline keeps track of linked files using two distinct approaches:

Relative Path: Aeon Timeline records the relative path from where the timeline file is stored to where the externally linked file is stored, and looks for a document with the same name at the same relative path. This allows Aeon Timeline to find the correct file if an entire folder system is moved or copied (if copied onto a USB key or synced to another computer using Dropbox, for example).

Absolute Path: Aeon Timeline also records the absolute path of a linked document. This means that timeline documents can be moved around a computer independently of linked files and the links will still be retained.

Each time a timeline file is opened, Aeon Timeline attempts to locate all of the externally linked documents using the above techniques in the above order. Once a document has been found using one of the methods, the information for the other methods is then updated to reflect the position of the newly found file.

Moving timelines and linked files between computers

If you anticipate the need to use your timeline file on multiple computers, the best approach is to keep your timeline file and externally linked documents in a single, consistent folder structure across all machines.

As an example, if you save both the timeline and linked images into a single folder, you can copy that folder onto a USB stick, and then onto another computer, and Aeon Timeline will be able to maintain the link to the external file using the same relative path regardless of where you copy the folder.

More complex folder structures will work equally well, provided the entire folder structure is duplicated across all machines.

Warning: If you are not copying the entire folder structure at once, be careful about opening the timeline file while it is copied onto a USB stick. It will first attempt to resolve the links using the relative path, but if it cannot find them, it will revert to using the absolute path to find the files in their original location on the computer. Once the external links are resolved using this method, the relative path would be updated to match that absolute path, and the links will be broken when the USB device is connected to a new computer.


Bug reports? Suggestions? Feeling lost? Leave your questions or comments below…