Development Blog

Beta Release 0.3.1 – Story Arc View

Aeon Timeline Version 0.3.1 has just been released for both Leopard and Tiger. The version 0.3 release is the next major milestone in the evolution of Aeon Timeline.

I would encourage everyone to update to this new release, as the new version is a major advancement. 

The big addition to this release is the all new Story Arc View. Although it is not yet feature complete (the links between Story Arcs have not yet been implemented), it is still a big addition to Aeon Timeline. The new Story Arc view provides:

  • A horizontal timeline, using a similar folding timeline algorithm to the Entity View, that compresses time periods with little activity, and expands time periods when there are lots of events.
  • A much better temporal view of the timeline by placing all events at their exact location, and provides a visual display of events’ duration.
  • Events can be split into different story arcs with simple drag and drop operations, making it easy to sort out the events that belong together.
  • Story Arcs can be hidden and shown with a simple drop-down menu option, making it easy to concentrate on smaller sections of your timeline at once.
  • The Story Arc View is fully integrated with the Entity View, sharing the same Hot Tags bar, maintaining selections as you toggle between views, etc.

The next version will provide vast improvements to the somewhat limited exporting and printing options currently available. Please participate in the discussion over on the Scrivener forums regarding exporting the timeline data to Scrivener (and other writing software): http://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=6085

 

Follow the link for upgrade information. 

 

Aeon Timeline supports automatic updates, which means you will be notified whenever an update is available, and able to download it directly within the program. If the program does not alert you automatically, you can choose ‘Check for Updates…’ from the Aeon Timeline menu.

Alternatively, you can download the latest version of the application by clicking on the Latest Version link at the top of the Blog page. The last beta was downloaded more than 500 times, and I hope even more users will test out this latest version. If you know other users who may be interested in the program and the direction the program is taking, please encourage them to take a look.

There will be more posts in the coming weeks as I discuss and seek feedback on some of the more interesting and exciting developments still to come, including further improvements to the Story Arc view, and to be included in the next release, the non-linear narrative for exporting.

4 comments on “Beta Release 0.3.1 – Story Arc View

  1. Hi,

    Great compression algorythm, bravo!
    Many other comments at this stage (as per your request for feedback) :

    • Bug in the Manage entities menu :
    doesn’t take into accourt earlier changes to an entity made directly through the inspector if said entity is selected when you first re-use the menu — until you click out of the entity name and then click back on it (The “refresh” button solves this pbl in the entity/story arc views, but there is none here, and even if there was one, it would still look like a bug since we are in a text, not a graphic view ;).

    (bug?) in the inspector, in the text date line, hours :
    - 1) don’t show
    - 2) can’t be changed
    (they can only be seen and changed by clicking in the visual calendar on the right)

    • Bug in the automatic transformation of 24hrs input in the visual calendar windows (see below)

    – Suggested Improvements / data entry and management:

    You did a great job at imagining @ creating the visual interface. But at the items management levels, the windows lack “create” and “delete” toolboxes buttons (Who doesn’t hate those very small + and – signs that are down there far away at the bottom of the screen, whether in Scrivener, StoryMill or elsewhere? They are so not Mac.)

    Even better, and even more Mac, would be the intuitive and simple possibility of creating a new item just by clicking inside the first empty line of the list. Pleaaase implement that everywhere possible, doctor. ;)

    Including a “story arc” choice list at the creation stage of entities would be quite logical (instead of only providing the possibility to add SAs in the SAs window).

    Also, addding individual tags management at the “manage entities” level. (i miss them very much there as it is much more convenient to assign tags from a general view like this than one at a time — they are easier to memorize that way and it prevents you from creating too many different tags.)

    Offering a “24 hours day” option in the preferences would be very welcome – having to type AM or PM in a new box in the calendar is annoying to users from countries with a 24 hours system, especially at the end of the long date-creation process trough the small calendar (see below; ) — and If we first type “23″ instead of “11″ while AM is selected, the calendar changes “23″ into “11″ but leaves AM as AM => we end up with an erroneous entry.

    In the “add event” window, it would be advisable to include a direct one line date and hour input instead of only the visual calendar’s, with its limitations.
    (I would also suggest to improve the visual calendar visibility and use: include scrolling with tabs and/or arrows from the keyboard and the possibility to toggle between whole week/ month/ year/ century instead of making the user having to click on and on when s/he enters a historical event or old character birth date.)

    Also, it would be a great plus to provide the exact day of the week for any date in time (past and future). Writers need that kind of info

    (If you don’t wish to spend too much time on the visual calendar options, why not allow imports from Ical (and may be provide calendar templates for that purpose)?)

    That’s it for now on my feedback front.

    Cheers and keep up the good work,

    Nathalie

    PS I would love to be able to translate AT into French, but even though i am both a translator and a Mac fan, i never localized any software, so i have no idea of the techniques and amount of time/work involved => can’t commit to that without more info => i’ll ask around. We can correspond privately on this if you wish.

  2. Hi, and thank you again for the suggestions. I agree that there is lots more that can be done for the data entry things. I try to tidy up a lot of these things as we go, but it is always good to get extra feedback on the things that are missing.

    I should also mention, that I am a mouse person, and use relatively few keyboard shortcuts, and so the interface is probably a little mouse-heavy for things like date entry. I will try to incorporate some of your suggestions for the next minor update, and will add the rest to the list of things to look at when I do the next big sweep on usability.

    As for localization – as I said, this is something I will do last, so I will look for volunteers then. In terms of the application itself, it is just a matter of translating the menu items, and the various text that appears on buttons, windows, Inspector, etc. It would be a fairly small list, and being just one or two word grabs, would probably only take a few hours for a bilingual speaker.

    If the user manual was translated as well, that would obviously take considerably more time, but I am not sure whether that would be necessary.

  3. Hi Matt,

    I’ve been having a play round with Aeon Timeline for the past few versions and it’s a really excellent piece of work. I confess I wasn’t entirely sure how the story-line view was going to work, so now of course, I’m kicking myself: its so brilliantly simple. Congratulations.

    Anyway, sycophancy out the way (all sincere, honest), I have one wish-list request for further versions.

    Specifically, a facility to set an entity’s age at the time of their birth.

    I know, I know, it sounds a bit abstract, but it would be very useful to be able to cut to the chase, particularly if there are large age differences between characters. If we could assume (say) that the granddad character is ‘born’ on the same day as the kid hero character, but is born aged 55, that would hack out a fifty year or so extension in the timeline which I’d otherwise have to keep skipping past — the time compression is good, but it would be useful to skip every single character’s day of birth, child-hood, adolescence etc.

    You’d obviously still have to enter an exact day for this occasion, so it wouldn’t directly solve the question of ‘fuzzy’ dates exactly, but it would be very useful.

    Other than that, best of luck with the development of the program. I think you’re onto something unique here.

    Vince

    • Hi Vince,
      Thanks for the kind comments. This has actually been raised before (although not quite phrased as “age at the time of birth”… that brings forth some unpleasant images!!), and is something I will look to add in the next few versions.

      I will basically add an option in the Entity Management Pane to set the ‘age at first event’. This will apply to whatever event becomes the first event they are involved in… so you would say that the grandfather is 55 the first time he is involved in an event, and everything would be calculated from there (alternatively, I may make it associated with a specific event when it is set, just in case you do decide to add an event 20 years earlier, and inadvertently change his age by 20 years as a result).

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