New tool: An easy way to build attractive timelines

Timelines are a great tool for drawing readers into stories and the Knight Lab is pleased to introduce a great tool for creating them.

Our timeline builder was created by Zach Wise, who last year joined the Medill faculty from the New York Times.   In teaching students to deploy timelines, Wise found there wasn’t a satisfactory tool that met current needs.  Working with the Knight Lab, he created one of his own and it’s now available at knightlabtimeline.com.

“The tools that already exist on the web are almost all either hard on the eyes or hard to use,” says Wise. “Timeline is an open-source, JavaScript and HTML/HTML5 based tool that creates elegant timelines.”

No installation of serversoftware is required, and content creators can use either JSON or a Google Docs spreadsheet template to build the timeline with media elements from diverse sources such as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Google Maps or SoundCloud. The project is hosted on GitHub and is available without charge.

The timeline tool can be used to draw readers into stories that cover multiple millennia or merely minutes.  The demonstration site includes examples ranging from a Chicago neighborhood’s fight over coal-fired power plants to a look at Whitney Houston’s life.

In keeping with our mission to spur innovation in online news in the Chicago region, we’re offering local publishers assistance in creating timelines using the new tool over the next several months.

Publishers with compelling story ideas for timelines can get free help in building timelines from a team of Medill students working with Wise.  Student support on the project is underwritten by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Publishers of all sizes—ranging from small neighborhood sites to large media companies are eligible for the assistance.  For more information, drop us a line at knightlab@northwestern.edu.

 

 

About the author

Mike Silver

Executive Director, 2011-2012

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