About Me

  • 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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Comparing Web Timelines

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

There are many products out there to build interactive timelines and embed them in websites. How do you choose?

I would like to suggest that the most important criteria in making the selection is choosing what is the best for your audience. Your audience will want:

  • Timelines that load quickly
  • Timelines without intrusive advertising
  • Timelines that are instantly intuitive to navigate
  • Timelines that are compatible with their web browser
  • Timelines that are readable and work well on mobile devices

With that in mind, I made this comparison chart of all the interactive web timeline products that I know about. Please download the full PDF version (12.6 M) so that you can zoom in to examine the details.

The first thing that I'd like to point out is the load time listed at the top of each column. Keep in mind that if you are embedding a timeline in your website, the amount of time it takes the timeline to load will be added to the time it takes to load the rest of the your page.

Next, note that most of these products look good in modern browsers such as Safari 5. Even so, some of the sites add intrusive advertising above the timelines which your audience will need to scroll past in order to navigate your timeline.

In the next row, I took a screenshot of each timeline with Javascript turned off in the browser. The spaces with a red "x" did not load a timeline at all. Now, only a small percentage of people browse the web with javascript turned off. However, we have found that this number is not insignificant and that sometimes corporate IT departments will disable javascript on employee computers. We know this because our order checkout system requires javascript and we get complains about that regularly.

Next we have screenshots on iPad and iPhone. What isn't pictured here is how well (or how poorly) these timelines interact with touch events. I encourage you to visit each of these sites on your iPhone and give it a try for yourself. Pay particular attention to how well each timeline does at giving you insight into the relationships between events when displayed a small screen such as that of an iPhone.

The next row shows how each page looks in Internet Explorer 6. Let me tell you, developing web sites for IE 6 is an incredible pain and I, like other developers, can not wait until it is no longer in use. Even Microsoft has asked people to stop using it. However, according to Microsoft, 12% of the world is still using that browser. If you want to publish a timeline that everyone can use, you need to consider it. This is especially true if you have a global audience.

Finally, I posted a row of Android phone screenshots. Similar to the iPhone images, consider not only whether or not the page loads, but consider if the design of the timeline is functional in that form factor.

It is difficult to make direct comparisons between all these products as they are targeted at a wide range of target audiences and use cases. For example, some are focussed on charting social network feeds, others are more like Timeline 3D in that they focus on historical charts. Note that only about half of the web timeline products support BC dates of any kind.

I hope this chart is useful. I do not intend for this comparison to be disrespectful to any of my competitors. Each product is focussed on different goals and each has unique features that the others do not. However, if you are creating a timeline to share with a wide audience, please keep in mind the perspecitve of your audience when choosing the best product for your particular needs.

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v3: List of New Features

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Elise has been working hard the past few months on updating our help documentation for Timeline 3D (v3). One article that you may find helpful is a list of all the new features in version 3.

I have blogged about some of these features and we are planning a series demonstration videos too, but it may be handy to see everything new in one place as well.

New Features in Timeline 3D (v3)

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Timeline 3D (v3) Launched!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today we are officially launching Timeline 3D (v3)! Read all about the features and download your copy today from our new website. If you are not yet a BEEDOCS customer, you can download v3 and purchase a license today.

If you purchased a Timeline 3D license in 2011, watch your inbox this week for a free upgrade. All other customers can upgrade by downloading v3 from our website and then using the upgrade button in the Timeline 3D > Registration menu item.

Thank you to the 1,000+ people who participated in our beta and gave us some great feedback and bug reports. We have fixed all the major bugs that you reported and we were encouraged by your kind words.

Without further ado… Timeline 3D (v3)

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Timeline Hosting Plans

Monday, March 07, 2011

We are putting the final touches on the v3 release and hope to officially launch it in the next few weeks.

One of our biggest new features is the ability to post interactive timelines to the web with just a few clicks. I have been working to design a pricing structure for the web publishing that is fair, simple, and encourages people to post their timelines frequently. We have many types of customers from young students to international news media so I wanted to have plans that make sense for everyone.

Without further ado, here are the timeline publishing plans:

Basic (free)
Best for blogs, personal sites, small businesses.

No event video or audio (photos only)
Up to 10,000 page views per month
Up to 15 timelines published at a time

Multimedia Basic ($9 / month)
Best for blogs, personal sites, small businesses.

Up to 20 min of total video
Up to 40 min of total audio
Up to 10,000 page views per month
Unlimited timelines

Multimedia Pro ($99 / month)
Best for schools, businesses, popular blogs.

Up to 30 min of total video
Up to 60 min of total audio
Up to 350,000 page views per month
Unlimited timelines

Enterprise ($199 / month)
Best for news media, high traffic websites

Up to 30 min of total video
Up to 60 min of total audio
Up to 1,000,000 page views per month
Unlimited timelines

None of your published timelines will have advertising or restrictions on commercial use. They all include the ability to embed timelines in other sites (though embedded timeline views count as page views). Timeline 3D is designed for professionals and so is our web hosting.

Over 90% of our customers should be able to use one of the first two plans… either the free plan or the “Multimedia Basic” plan depending on whether or you require movies and audio in your events. When you purchase a Timeline 3D license, you are automatically signed up for the free plan and no further registration is required unless you want to upgrade your plan.

The “Multimedia Pro” and “Enterprise” plans are designed for embedding timelines in high traffic sites. For example, our web timelines were designed with the goal of being embedding on the front page of international news media sites. These plans should cover most of those cases and we can design something custom if your company is one of the handful in the world that would require something more.

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