Tuesday, January 20, 2015
I am pleased to announce the release and immediate availability of Timeline 3D for Mac (v5), a significant update to our award-winning timeline software for Mac OS X. Completely redesigned for OS X Yosemite, Timeline 3D provides a new interface to support the creation of larger and more complex timelines. Timeline 3D helps present chronologies and historical events in full screen and with a 3D perspective.
We also launched our new website and updated help documentation to support the new version.
I encourage you to send feedback to me at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing what you think of the new version. Cheers!
Monday, November 10, 2014
This weekend, I released the second beta for the new Timeline 3D for OS Yosemite. Please replace the previous beta and give it a spin. I appreciate your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Timeline 3D v5.0 b2 —
FIXED: Layout was crashing for 3D renders of large timelines
FIXED: Crashing bug when timelines were exported prior to naming document
FIXED: Movie export help text reflects current settings
IMPROVED: Timelines display sharper text and images when zoomed in 3D renders.
IMPROVED: Code signed so that you won’t get Gatekeeper warnings during first launch.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Last week, Apple released OS X Yosemite and I published the first beta of new the new Timeline 3D for OS X Yosemite. After you upgrade your Mac, please try the new Timeline 3D.
The beta will be free while I iron out the bugs and put the finishing touches on the iOS 8 product that goes with it. This is a good time to send me feedback about any bugs you find.
Why the rewrite?
The new version is an almost complete rewrite of the code base (the last rewrite of this scale was the “T2” release back in 2007). I have been working on this release for about three years. Some of the features have found their way into the iOS releases during that time.
A few people asked for more details on why a rewrite was necessary. The main reason is that the iOS version and the Mac version of Timeline 3D shared about 5% of their code base and the other 95% was different for each platform. This is because the Mac version was written before iOS existed and many of it’s technologies are not available on iOS. It is difficult for me to develop new features and fix bugs when the products are completely different behind the scenes.
The new versions have about 85% of the code in common. All of the date parsing, document storage, layout, rendering, and exporting code is now common. For example, when I recently improved the way date parsing works in Chinese, that improvement was applied to both platforms.
In this effort, and also in the effort to remove my dependence on technologies that have been deprecated or fallen out of favor, I swapped out many of the core technologies for newer technologies.
Here are some of the frameworks that were major components of Timeline 3D and have now been removed:
- Core Data
- Quartz Composer
- Garbage Collection
In their place, I have added modern Apple technologies such as:
- iCloud compatibility
- Auto-saving with versioning
- Automatic Reference Counting (ARC)
Obviously, the user interface has changed quite a bit too. I’ve discussed some of those changes on this blog. The main idea behind the changes is to address the most common issues customers have as well and standardizing on a user interface that can scale from phones to 5k iMacs.
If you have any questions or concerns about the new version, please send me an e-mail. I realize that it will be a transition and will cause some inconvenience, but I hope that the new architecture will serve us all well for the next 5-10 years.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
When I announced the new versions of Timeline 3D, I received a lot of feedback about pricing. Thank you to everyone who sent a thoughtful reply. I enjoyed interacting with you and if helped refine my thinking.
I described the new pricing model as “freemium” and described an option to pay a small fee per export. Even though I also described an option to pay one price to unlock everything, the “freemium” description caused a bit of panic.
My goals remain the same:
- Allow anyone to try the software for free
- Allow most customers to unlock the complete set of features for a reasonable price.
- Give less expensive options to people who only want to use Timeline 3D for one particular project (like a school project).
So, here is my latest plan…
Included for free:
- Creating timeline
- Editing timeline
- Saving and Syncing
- Presenting 3D timelines on your Mac or with AirPlay
Unlocking the exporting and rendering features require a purchase. The purchases will be handled as an in-app purchase. These are non-consumable purchases which means that unlocking a feature on one of my Macs will allow you to unlock the feature on all your Macs that are using the same Apple ID or family sharing.
Timeline 3D for iOS will contain a separate but similar pricing arrangement. If you've already purchased Timeline 3D for iOS, you will not need to pay again.
Here is the pricing sheet for the Timeline 3D for OS X Yosemite launch. The prices are subject to change in the future.
I know that education and enterprise customers are interested in a paid up-front version so that they can purchase and install Timeline 3D in bulk. I am working on a solution to that as well.
Hopefully the new pricing arrangement seems clear and fair. If you have questions or feedback, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Here is a comparison between the legacy Timeline 3D (v3) interface for editing timeline events and the new design that will be released soon for the Yosemite update. The new design gives much more space to your content and makes it easier to see and edit multiple events at the same time.
Note the new “Color Category” feature. This allows you to quickly categorize your events with a single click. The actual colors change with the theme so you can adapt your timeline to different outputs (like printing) and still retain the category information.
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Here is a retro screenshot of Bee Docs Timeline version 1.0 running on Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.
At that time, events could contain an event title and dates. Other information such as notes, images, movies, links, and tags were added in later versions. As I mentioned in my previous post, the user interface was designed around those initial requirements.
When I added the ability to use notes and media, almost everyone took advantage of those features. In fact, people took advantage of those features to a degree that I did not initially expect.
As I have provided e-mail support to customers, I have seen hundreds of timelines. Many of those timelines use notes that are paragraphs long. Notes that are about as long as a printed page in each event are not uncommon.
A graphical timeline chart must trim or scale down this data in order to display it efficiently together with other events, so it has become important to have an additional way to view and edit your events. It is with this in mind that I developed the Event Poster view.
This view shows all of the information associated with an event in a layout that is optimized to fill the screen, minimize scrolling, and feature your event media. You can quickly flip through your events with a swipe or using the arrow keys.
The Event Poster view also is designed to adapt to a huge range of screen sizes. For example, the iOS version scales between the iPhone and the iPad in different orientations.
This view also presents your events beautifully on any Mac screen. Here is a screenshot of Timeline 3D running on a Mac OS X Yosemite at 1280 x 800:
I originally wrote the layout code for Event Posters when I designed the iOS app several years ago. At that time, it was manually coded layout logic. For the iOS 7 release, I migrated the layout code to use Apple’s auto-layout technology instead. For the Yosemite release I am using the same auto-layout structure, but tuned for the fonts and screen sizes available on the Mac.
The principle that it takes a lot of complexity to make something simple definitely holds true here. There are over 70 layout constraints involved in determining the layout. Many of them change priorities or values based on the contents of an event (for example, the aspect ratio of the event media affects the line wrapping of the notes).
The result is that your content looks beautiful and readable on any screen!