TimlineJS deployed more than 1,500 times, new features

In March the Knight Lab released TimelineJS. By June, journalists around the world had picked it up and used it to tell some of the biggest stories in the country. All told, more than 1,500 sites have used the technology.

With all that adoption TimelineJS’s developer, Zach Wise, has added new features, resources, and even a new license that hopefully makes TimelineJS available to even more people.

First, a quick overview new features:

  • Languages — TimelineJS now supports more than 25 languages, from Arabic to Greek to Taiwanese.
  • Embed generator — The generator has made embedding a timeline in any site even less intimidating. Users only need to be able to copy and paste a single line of code from the generator into their CMS.
  • Customization — Web producers can now customize their timeline’s size, font, and map style using the Embed Generator. They can also specify a landing slide, which allows them to send users to any slide within the timeline — a particularly useful tool on stories in which events unfolding as the timeline is built or updated.


Apart from new features, TimelineJS’s developer, Zach Wise, has made support for the product easier and cleaner. Users can still stop by the Google Group or GitHub to ask questions, but they can also consult a ChangeLog to see how the software has changed recently and a Frequently Asked Questions section that provides a quick reference for most queries.

TimelineJS also features a new license — Mozilla Public License, Version 2.0 — that will hopefully allow more sites to use the technology. Read a full review of the license logic here.

Another exciting development is that the open source community continues to modify and adapt timeline to suite their needs. Most recently, a developer at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. created a Django application that allows journalists there to create timelines entirely within the CMS they’re used to using.

“The Django app we made lets our editors skip filling out spreadsheets in Google Docs,” said Ryan Pitts, a Spokesman developer, in an email. “Instead, they use a form in our existing website admin to create a new timeline, specifying dates, entering text, uploading photos, and so on.”

Once reporters have saved a timeline, the application Pitts and his colleagues created generates the JSON feed that TimelineJS expects, Pitts said.

They’ve also created a custom template that includes the Spokesman-Review’s CSS and share links for Twitter and Facebook. See the latest deployment here.

All said, we’re pretty proud of the work that been done on and with TimelineJS so far and can’t wait to see where it goes next.

About the author

Ryan Graff

Communications and Outreach Manager, 2011-2016

Journalism, revenue, whitewater, former carny. Recently loving some quality time @KelloggSchool.

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