Here’s my completed timeline
I’ve always been drawn to beautiful timelines as a visual aid to record history. Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of the timeline applications I’ve seen produce timelines that are functional but not very attractive. I like TimelineJS because the finished product looks good, and is easy to navigate. It also has useful features like the ability to link to websites, youtube videos, twitter posts, flickr image files, Google maps, and soundcloud audio files. I thought this would be an interesting application to try for myself, in order to make timelines as visual aids for my students, but I also thought they might be able to use it too, as part of a research project.
Putting the timeline together is very straightforward. All you have to do is fill out a Google spreadsheet with the necessary information. Then you publish the sheet to the web, paste your link into TimelineJS’s generator, and ta-da, you have a web-based timeline that can be embedded into any website.
At first I thought one of the major drawbacks of the app was that you would have to have a website to view the timeline, which would mean that students would have to not only build the timeline, but also need a website to put it on, which would make everything more complicated. However, this is not the case, the timeline can be viewed with the link generated on TimelineJS’s website.
To create a timeline, you must use Google spreadsheets, it won’t work with any other type. So as the teacher I either need to make sure that my students have Google accounts if the school does not already use their services.
The other problem with the application is that its ability to pull media is spotty at best. 2 out of 3 of my flickr photos did not load, and in their example timelines, tweets often fail to load as well. So I would caution my students to use websites and videos to be safe.
Because of the problems associated with TimelineJS, I am not going to use it for student projects because I think there would be too much time spent getting frustrated when media doesn’t load. However, I might still use it to make content for my classes, and post the links to my class website.