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  • Adam Behringer

    Seattle, Washington USA

    Adam is the founder of BEEDOCS, an artisan software company that makes great timeline software for Mac OS X.

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v3: Date Range Typography

Thursday, January 06, 2011

When I write software, most of the time I am coding for customers. I'm responding to bug reports and feature requests or trying to dream up new features that will win new categories of customers. However, from time to time I code for myself and work on things just because they make me happy. This is one of those features…

There are best-practices for how to write date ranges but these are hardly ever followed by software programs. Here is the date section from Wikipedia's Manual of Style. In fact, I've never actually seen a software program that follows these practices before.

Let me give you an example. If you are writing a date range that goes from January 4, 2011 to January 5, 2011, the correct way to typeset it is not…

January 4, 2011 – January 5, 2011 (incorrect)

…but rather like this:

January 4–5, 2011 (correct)

It takes up less space this way and is easier understand. Since our software is all about making things easier to understand, I am proud to announce that Timeline 3D v3 will automatically format date ranges with the correct date range style. Also, the correct style is also retained when publishing timelines to the web.

Here are some more examples:

Current VersionUpcoming (v3)
Sep 25, 2009 – Oct 26, 2009Sep 25 – Oct 26, 2009
June 4, 2010 – June 21, 2010June 4–21, 2010
January 2011 – June 2011January–June 2011

Undoubtably there will be other features of the Timeline 3D that generate more attention for us, but this is one of the features that I am most personally proud of. Especially because I believe that we are the first software program to do it.

Timeline of Theater Performances showing date ranges

PS - I've been pretty enamored with typesetting as a craft since reading "The Elements of Typographic Style" by Robert Bringhurst which is one of my favorite books on any subject. Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates details.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Larry Staton Jr.January 06, 2011 7:45 AM

Hooray! I love the new date ranges. Will they work for non-US style dates, too (e.g., 25-28 January 2011)?

BTW, I thought everyone had a copy of Bringhurst's book on their nightstand.

Blogger Adam BehringerJanuary 06, 2011 8:53 AM

Larry, it does now! (thanks to your comment)

OpenID designstudies2010January 06, 2011 10:33 AM

Larry beat me to it - most Mac apps respect localised settings (and the "proper" way is 25-28 January 2011 as he says).
Of course in China it would be 2011-1-25 - 2011-1-28, I think...

Who knew writing software could be so complicated!
;-)

Blogger Adam BehringerJanuary 06, 2011 10:40 AM

Yes, Timeline 3D supports all the localized date formats available on Mac OS X (it does currently and will in the future).

In fact, it is the only timeline software on any platform that does support international date formats, that I know of. For example today's date in French shows up like this: 6 janv. 2011

However, the new compact date range feature is only tested on USA date formats so far. That is one of the things I will be looking for feedback on during the beta period. It is my goal to make this feature work for all the languages that our customers using.

Blogger ZacamanJanuary 07, 2011 6:14 AM

Adam, here's a little light reading to satisfy (or annoy?) the typologist within you... http://www.fastcodesign.com/1662995/51-typography-rules-that-are-meant-to-be-broken

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