xtimeline – Explore and Create Free Timelines


I feel pretty slow on this one, but apparently it came out back in July 2007, so maybe I was on holidays. Anyways, for every single person who has ever asked me for a collaborative web-based timeline tool they could use with their class (I’ve been asked this dozens of times) I’d be hard pressed to see how XTimeline wouldn’t fit the bill.

For all the rest of you who knew about it years ago, apologies, I do try and keep the “me too’s” and overly obvious posts down to a minimum, but then I am a slow learner, so forgive me. – SWL

10 thoughts on “xtimeline – Explore and Create Free Timelines”

  1. Now I know you slept through my Northern Voice 2008 presentation, you hungover slacker.

    One advantage Xtimeline has, IMHO, is that you can import the data to create the timeline from a CSV file (e.g. export from Excel) as the form entering on the sites gets tedious for a timeline with a lot of stops.

  2. Please don’t use xtimeline. Use something like the SIMILE Timeline instead (the WordPress plugin was previously suggested):


    The SIMILE Timeline has many advantages over xtimeline. It uses standard JavaScript and is BSD-licensed, meaning anyone can look at how it works and modify it to fit their needs. This is especially important in a classroom situation, where students may wonder how it works. In such cases you can show them the code so they can experiment with it and learn from it.

    xtimeline has many qualities that make it unfit for classroom use. First of all, it uses Flash, which is not standard (see http://singpolyma.net/2009/01/beasts-of-the-standards-world/ for the definition of “standard” I use) and, as a result, many people don’t have it on their computing devices (for example iPhones do not run Flash). Furthermore, the site has very onerous usage terms: “you agree not to modify, rent, lease, loan, sell, distribute or create derivative works based on the Service or the Software” (see http://www.xtimeline.com/z/agreement.aspx ). This makes it illegal for a student to modify the xtimeline tool or share the tool itself with a friend. This impedes their ability to learn from it.

    The SIMILE Timeline accepts input in XML format, which is fairly easily to generate from CSV or other file types. Here is an example:


    The above XML generates the timeline shown at the bottom of http://www.recovery.gov/ .

    If you have any questions regarding SIMILE Timeline, let me know.

  3. @cogdog I was there for sure. But I seem to recall it was ’50 ways to tell a story’ so maybe it flew right by me 😉 Good tip about importing data, thanks.

  4. One more vote for using the SIMILE widget. In the past, I’ve used SIMILE Exhibit widget with the timeline extension, which gets you basically the same thing. http://simile.mit.edu/wiki/Exhibit

    I’m not sure you can do this with the stand-alone timeline, but with the Exhibit you can set up a Google doc to feed in the data, which makes for a quick and easy way to collaboratively build up the data.

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