Thursday, October 25, 2007
T2 will allow a full screen view of your timeline in screen optimized mode, bulk edit mode, and print preview mode. This will allow you to give full screen presentations or use the maximum screen area for editing timelines.
Because timeline events are now editing "in place" instead of being edited in a panel, you can also make adjustments to your timelines in full screen view.
By the way, this toolbar icon and all of our custom icons are being designed by Kenichi Yoshida who has been doing great work, don't you think? He has made high resolution versions of all the icons so that T2 will be ready for resolution independence someday in the future.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Here is a screenshot sequence that shows creating a photo timeline in about 3 clicks. T2 will be able to import photo albums from iPhoto and chart them based on the date they were taken! This is going to be very cool for vacations and creating timelines of your kids' first steps, etc...
Friday, October 19, 2007
This may be the most dramatic new feature of T2... You will be able to instantly create timelines based on the media and information that you already have stored on your computer!
The following sequence of three screenshots shows charting of recently played iTunes albums.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
A while back, I posted a tutorial for creating parallel timelines using Bee Docs' Timeline and page layout software. Charting multiple rows of events is a great way to make comparisons. For instance, you could compare one persons recollection to another or you compare the history of painting with architecture.
In T2, multiple event rows will be a built in feature and will be easy to create. For example, I have created a timeline that compares major releases of Windows OS with major releases of Mac OS X:
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Another very exciting feature of Bee Docs' Timeline 2.0 will be user settable background images!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Be sure to order a copy, so that you will be ready to install Bee Docs' Timeline 2.0 as soon we released it.
Monday, October 15, 2007
T2 will add more control over graphics, colors, and formatting than previous versions. The added control will help to make some beautiful timelines that were not possible before. However, more choices may make things more complex for the graphic-design-challenged.
To help people create great looking timelines with as little effort as possible, we have designed some pre-defined "looks" that you can use to style your timelines. When you create a new timeline document, you can choose a look that will define the font and color settings for your document. This is similar to a "Theme" in Apple's Keynote or Pages.
The looks available for the T2 launch (subject to change) will be:
- Basic Blue
- Boot Camp
- Cherry Pie
- Laser Printer
Friday, October 12, 2007
Search in T2 was a feature I wanted to get right. It turned out to require a bit more design attention than you might expect. I don't know if you've stopped to think about it before, but search works different ways in different applications.
For example, in iTunes search hides the categories and songs which don't match the criteria, so the list if songs being shown is getting smaller as your search criteria becomes more specific. In a word processor, search does not hide all the non-matching words. Instead, it highlights the found words in context of the document, often sequentially.
When you are looking at a timeline with many events, what do you want to do when you use the search feature? Probably, you want to locate a particular event in order to make a change, or perhaps you are presenting the relationships between certain types of events. For example, take a look at the following timeline based on WWI events as described in Wikipedia:
As I mentioned in a previous post, there are 254 events in this timeline and it spans over 100 pages. Let's say that I wanted to present all of the events related to France. If I search for the word "france", the events which do not match will fade down but will stay in place in order to provide context to the events regarding France:
By contrast, in Bulk Edit mode the search hides all of the events which do not match the search (à la iTunes). This is because the chronological relationships between events are not reflected in this view, so there is no value gained by keeping the events on screen which do not match the search.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
If you need to create a timeline with very many events, it is often best to enter all the data first and then format the timeline. In the current release, I often use Excel to create tab delimited text files of my events and then import them. However, it is not very convenient to use two different applications...
I am pleased to announce that T2 will allow an editable table view of your events! It looks like this:
In table view, you will be able to add, delete, and edit events as well as drag images onto events and assign event colors. You will also be able to use search to find exactly the events you are looking for.
As an example of how helpful this feature can be, the timeline shown in the screenshot has 254 events from wikipedia (printing on letter size paper spans 140 pages). To color all the events related to Russia red, I searched for "russia" then did a "select all" and chose red as the event color. I'll give more details on search in the next post...
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
This is what editing an event looks like in T2:
When I first launched released Bee Docs' Timeline 1.0 in May 2005, it was designed to allow folks to click an event to select it and then edit the event data and formatting options in a side drawer.
For T2, I decided to rethink the paradigm to make the editing process easier and more efficient. Now, you will be able to double click an event to edit all of its data "in place" in the timeline. This will be easier, particularly for new users because the area of attention stays the same instead of shifting to another part of the screen. It also allows you to edit events when the formatting panel is closed or the chart is in full screen mode.
I find that it is also nice to separate the event data from the presentation options. The edit form that you get upon double clicking an event only contains the facts associated with an event. Colors, fonts, sizes, and other visual options are left in the formatting panel. In this way, you can be focussed on entering events quickly and then when you are done, you can style the timeline appropriately.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
As noted in this interesting article from Apple Insider, Apple has continued to evolve the Finder in Leopard. In particular, Quicklook and an improved Spotlight make it much easier to find and browse the files you are looking for. However, in order to take full advantage of these features, the software applications you use must support them.
T2 will offer full support for both Quicklook and Spotlight in Leopard. The screenshot below shows the thumbnail view of two Timeline documents, a text file, and a PDF timeline. The icons for T2 documents are dynamically created to match the color and font scheme of the timeline chart they contain.
If you select a T2 document in Finder and press the space bar, a Quicklook preview instantly pops up like this:
Just a few weeks left until Leopard if Apple keeps to their October shipping date!
Friday, October 05, 2007
Bee Docs' Timeline has always been first and foremost about communicating history in a beautiful and elegant fashion.
To this end, T2 will introduce event images! To add images to events, you simply drag and drop images from the image panel onto the events in your timeline. The timeline automatically resizes the image and reformats the event layout to fit the image. You can also drag and drop images from other applications.
To create the following timeline, I dragged images of jazz piano players directly from Safari (wikipedia.org) onto the related events.
Images can be resized on a per event basis or in bulk, and your events can also include notes and hyperlinks as well. Notice that two of the events shown in the screenshot contain notes and that each event can link back to the Wikipedia article that describes the event. Like the other screenshots that I am posting, the layout is completely automatic, there was no dragging events around to make them fit.
This is one of the most requested features and I am thrilled to be able to provide the functionality with T2!
Thursday, October 04, 2007
The current version of Timeline (and much of the competition) use a "What you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) style of editing. The process for creating a document goes somethings like this:
- Create a new document, choose a page size and orientation
- Add events and set formatting (layout looks exactly like it will on paper)
- If events don't fit well on the page, change change spanning, paper size, or orientation to make it fit
- Zoom in and out to make pages fit on the screen
The nice thing about this style of editing is that you know exactly what the end result will look like. There are a few downsides though. The biggest is that what is best for the page might not be best for the screen. You may be working on a MacBook or you may have dual 30" displays. When you are editing, you want the layout to take the best advantage of the hardware that you have while minimizing scrolling, zooming and page setup.
T2 provides both Screen Optimized view which is the default for editing and Print Preview. Below is a screenshot of Print Preview with the paper size set to Letter in a Portrait orientation. Note that the resolution of the screenshot is that of a MacBook display.
The chart looks exactly like it will when printed, but notice that the vertical scroll bar is showing because the page size is too tall for the window and that there is gray space on either side of the timeline which is not being used.
Following is the exact same timeline in Screen Optimized mode:
Now the timeline is sized to fit the window, taking full advantage of the available screen real-estate and eliminating the need for scroll bars. As the window is resized, T2 automatically finds the best event layout for the new window size.
This isn't the most flashy new feature of T2 (I don't think it received any user requests), but it is one that is sure to make you much more efficient and save many clicks while creating timelines.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
As I have worked on T2 over the last year, the feature that I have spent the most time on is improving the automatic layout. The founding vision of Bee Docs' Timeline was a piece of software that made great looking charts from the events you gave it, with minimal tweaking and user layout required. The first version was pretty good (maybe still the best out there), but I wanted to do much better for T2.
One of the timelines that I have been using for testing is a World War I Timeline from Wikipedia. It has been the "torture test" for my layout code and performance tuning. There are over 250 events, many of which contain very long titles, and some events contain long spans.
I haven't found any existing timeline charting software that can lay out this chart without conflicts, particularly without any user adjustments. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments so that I can compare the results.
Here is how I made the chart: I created a tab delimited text version of the Wikipedia data in Excel and then open it in Bee Docs' Timeline. I didn't make any layout adjustments other than choosing a font and in the case of Timeline 1.6, I chose the maximum number of pages (page span is automatic in T2).
Here is what it looks like in Bee Docs' Timeline 1.6 (the current release):
To it's credit, Timeline 1.6 does open the timeline, and looks pretty good in areas where the events are not too dense. However, in the busy areas of the chart there are collisions as you can see from the screenshot above.
Here is the T2 version of the same chart.
T2 has automatically wrapped long titles, has a much more compact and intelligent layout, and is automatically selecting the number of pages that will fit the entire timeline. There are no collisions, even with the long date spans. If you change the font, page size, or events, the layout will automatically adjust.
It turns out that better layout not only makes your existing timelines better and more detailed timelines possible, but also enables some fun new features which I will show you on the blog soon.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
It looks like Apple is getting near the release of Leopard. We'll see if they make the October ship date Steve Jobs promised. My guess is that the will. The beta versions that I have been using for development have improved greatly in the past few weeks.
I have been in crunch mode to get T2 ready to ship as soon as possible after Leopard. I promise that I am at least as restless as you are to see T2 released! I have almost all of the new features implemented including a completely new layout engine that took most of the last year to perfect. There are a number of bugs and performance issues remain to be fixed, but I'm knocking them down one at a time in priority order.
I'm also currently working with Kenichi Yoshida who is creating the toolbar icons for T2. He did a great job on the application icon, and I'm excited to see the toolbar icons that he comes up with! Here is a sketch of some of his toolbar icon concepts so far:
I will roll out the software to a small group of people starting in the days after Leopard is released to the public (my goal is the day it ships). I'll probably start with about 10 people who are on my customer design panel and invite new people each day until I feel that it is stable enough to release to everyone. I'm hoping that the full public release will be ready by the end of November.
I'll post some screenshots over the next month to wet your appetite. I've been holding back as there has been a flurry of new charting competition arriving on the market over the last year, and I didn't want to give away the new ideas until I was almost ready to ship.