ILE Reflective Essay #2

This week we learned about several tools we have access to and can incorporate into our websites. For this week’s reflection I would like to focus on Timeline JS – a tool I will become very familiar with by the end of the eight-weeks. Timeline JS is an open source tool developed by Knight Lab at Northwestern University. This digital tool is beneficial to projects that require a display of chronological information. After the user enters information into Google Sheets, the timeline created, and is ready to be embedded into the webpage.

Several assumptions are made by the developers like access to a Google account, understanding of Google Sheets, comprehension of the English language, and ability to add videos, images, external links, and social media. The tool can be used to present multi-faceted stories; however, it is up to the creators to pick the information which can lead to biased presentation of research. Timeline slides can be changed by using the mouse to click on the left/right buttons on the timeline or the left/right buttons on a computer keyboard. Although the tool appears to be unbiased, it allows for information to be presented from biased perceptions.

Key features of the tool focus on the adaptability and wider variety of media that can be added to the timeline. We have seen examples timelines with tweets, videos, images, documents, external links, and text. Timeline JS is different from current styles of timelines. Many organizations are leaning towards vertical displays of information (see ILE Project Charter for examples) – however, user interaction consists of scrolling down the page. I have not found a vertical timeline with external links; I have not had the time to properly interact will a wide range of timelines to understand the programs used, but I do know that creating the timeline within the page allows for HTML modification.

Basic use of the tool is not difficult because the downloadable Google spreadsheet provides several examples of the information needed to create a clear display. Something I recently learned was that the information does not need to be entered in chronological order Timeline JS to display it as such. (Neat, right?) Knowing this feature exist is great because I will often check the spreadsheets for missing information because I sometimes misarrange dates, but a mistake like this will not cause my timeline to be out of order. Timeline JS requires the user to have a Google account with access to the Google Drive – this permits Timeline JS to collect and display the information chosen by the user. The data of the timeline is owned by the publisher or location of information; I have to make sure I correctly cite the information I use in case someone else is interested in finding the same information.

Questions regarding Timeline JS must be sent to those working at Knight Lab – the website clearly states that the request can only be processed if they are in English. Due to the lack of tech support, questions might not be answered in a prompt manner. Unfortunately, I was not able to find anything with a schedule or time frame for tool updates. Modifications can be done to the timeline, but they require some understanding of CSS/HTML. Sometimes I forget the code for some changes, but a quick Google search helps with code. I am looking forward to working in Timeline JS, I believe it is user friendly and with a few code modification, I can design the timeline to reflect my vision.

3 Replies to “ILE Reflective Essay #2”

  1. I found one this weekend but I had a hard time translating the page…. I am on a current mission to find tools that will translate my web page for other users.

  2. Very nice write-up. I have found Knightlab to have very good support, but it’s worth pointing out that it’s English-only. They are pretty good at doing regular updates, but you have to check out their GitHub page for some of that info:

    One of the assumptions TimelineJS makes is that you want dates in a standard ISO format, which doesn’t work for everything, especially for projects that would benefit from a non-Western, non-linear perspective of time.

    As for the move towards vertical timelines, I see that as more of a response to how people use devices. Lots of users are used to vertical scrolling with a phone anymore, so it makes sense to move in that direction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *