Key Concepts: Parts of a Timeline
A timeline is composed of a series of events: an occurrence that happens at a particular time and place for a given duration.
Events are represented graphically on the timeline with their title, color, date and duration. Events have a number of additional properties that can be configured, including notes, tags (keywords), other properties, and relationships with entities (see right), which can be viewed on the timeline by expanding an event.
Aeon Timeline allows you to associate events with people, locations, projects, story arcs, and more – collectively known within Aeon Timeline as entities. Entities have a name and a type (e.g. Person, Location) as defined in the chosen template, and can have relationships with any number of events.
Entities can also have start/birth and end/death dates or events, from which Aeon Timeline can calculate ages.
Relationships represent a connection between an event and an entity. This may represent a particular person was present at an event, or an event belongs to a particular story arc or project.
Relationships are many-to-many, meaning each event can have relationships with multiple entities, and each entity may have relationships with multiple events.
When specifying a relationship, you also specify the role that the entity fulfils for that event. Many entity types may only allow a single role, but some types may have multiple roles – for instance, a person may be a participant in an event, or just a witness. Roles are defined in the timeline’s template.
Aeon Timeline can visually divide events into a number of groups based on their relationships with particular entities. If you choose to group by Person, for instance, there will be a separate group created to represent each person. Likewise, you may group by story arc or location or project.
An event can be displayed in multiple groups.
Each time you create a new timeline, you will do so by choosing an initial template. Templates define the following information about a timeline:
- The timeline style (absolute date, relative date, numeric) and calendar
- Entity types and their roles
- Additional properties users can create for an event
- Colors to be associated with an event (and their name)
Aeon Timeline ships with a range of standard templates for fiction writers, project managers, legal practitioners, and historians. The initial template can be edited via Timeline Settings, and saved as a custom template for you to use in future.
Creating your first timeline
Choosing a starting template
Aeon Timeline 2 uses editable templates to give you complete flexibility in tracking the data you want to track. You can choose from a number of pre-configured standard templates as a starting point for your new timeline, depending on your intended use.
When Aeon Timeline first opens, you will be presented with the Welcome Screen. The main area of the window will show you the available templates.
Hover your mouse over the i symbol on any of the timelines to read a short description of the template. Double click on a template to create a new timeline using that template as your base.
Don’t panic, you can edit your chosen template any time!
Creating your first event
To create an event in your timeline, you can do any of the following:
- Click on the Add Event icon in the toolbar
- Choose Add Event from the Timeline menu.
- Double click on the date you want to place your event.
All of these options will bring up the Add Event Dialog. Enter a title for the event, select a color, and modify the date and duration as required. All of these values can be changed later in the Inspector on the right-hand side of the screen. You can ignore the other fields for the moment.
When you have entered all of the information, click Add Event at the bottom of the dialog.
Generally speaking, double clicking on the timeline will be the quickest way for you to add subsequent events, as the date field will be pre-populated based on where you clicked.
You can move existing events by dragging them around the timeline, or by selecting the event and then editing event details in the Inspector.
Adding Entities and Relationships
As you add more events and your window fills up with events, you may wish to add further elements to your timeline to help keep everything organised.
To add your first entity to your timeline, click on the Add Entity toolbar icon and select a type (e.g. Person). This will bring up the Add Entity Dialog. Enter a name for your new entity and click OK.
Once you have added an entity, you will be able to associate it with events via the Roles tab in the Inspector:
- Click on an event to select it.
- In the Inspector, click on the Roles tab.
- Create a relationship between the selected event and your entity by:
- For roles that allow a single entity only per event, select your entity from the dropdown menu.
- Otherwise, click on the green + symbol and select your entity from the dropdown list.
Divide your events into groups
Now that you have events associated with entities, you can use those relationships to divide your timeline display into multiple groups.
Click on the Group by toolbar icon and select a type you wish to group by (e.g. Person). In your timeline view, you will have a separate group for each entity, and events will be divided according to the relationships you have created.
Note that events may appear in multiple groups if they have relationships with multiple entities (e.g. if two different people are associated with an event). An additional group is added at the bottom to hold any events that are associated with none of the groups (e.g. an event that has no people allocated to it yet).
Where to next?
The basics we have covered here are often enough for new users to get started using Aeon Timeline. For some users with small and simple timelines, this may be all they ever need.
There are a lot of advanced features within Aeon Timeline that you may want to explore down the track, but it is often best to let it evolve naturally – wait until you feel like your timeline is getting too complex or cluttered, or you feel like you need a particular feature, before you seek it out.
A few areas you may want to review as your timeline develops are:
- Navigation options to help you move around and find content within your timeline as it grows
- Look at Timeline Settings to edit the timeline template
- Look at Display Settings to change the appearance of the timeline
- Event dependencies, if you want to tie event dates together
- Nested events, if you want to be able to show or hide more detailed timeline events as you change zoom.
- Filters, if you want to be able to focus on a subset of your overall timeline
- Importing, exporting, and Scrivener syncing, if you want to exchange timeline data with other applications