One of the things we want to build into our 1989 project is a timeline of events that will help students to visualize what happened in some sort of chronological sequence. Thanks to a tip from our PhD student Ken Albers, I’ve been playing with the open source timeline creator at Simile–an MIT project.
The Simile timeline code is easy enough even for someone with limited skills like mine. In just a couple of hours today I created a simple timeline for the communist period in Eastern Europe with 18 events in it. The events themselves are stored in an XML page and the timeline code is in the main page. I haven’t played with the formatting at all (something I’ll leave to our design folks so I don’t screw it up). The bottom half of the timeline shows decades, the top shows years, and the lighter panel in the bottom shows the span visible in the upper at any particular moment. The two bands move in synchrony.
Each of the events appears as a link, although only the founding of Solidarity has anything in the link other than a date and time stamp. Click on this one to see what can be done without any tweaking of the code. Links to other sites can also be introduced in the bubbles that pop up.
We’ll likely use this code as a starting point for whatever timeline we ultimately create for the site. It’s just too easy to not use it.