A timeline is a way of displaying a list of events in chronological order, sometimes described as a project artifact. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labeled with dates alongside itself and (usually) events labeled on points where they would have happened.
Timelines are often used in education to help students and researchers with understanding events and trends for a particular subject. They are mostly used to show periods of time between two events.
Timelines are particularly useful for studying history, as they convey a sense of change over time. Wars and social movements are often shown as timelines. Timelines are also useful for biographies. Examples include:
- Chronology of Shakespeare's plays
- Timeline of the American Civil Rights Movement
- Timeline of European exploration
- Timeline of Solar System exploration
- Timeline of United States history (1930-1949)
- Timeline of World War I
Another type of timeline is used for project management. In these cases, timelines are used to help team members to know what milestones need to be achieved and under what time schedule. For example, in the case of establishing a project timeline in the implementation phase of the life cycle of a computer system.
Timelines can take use any time scale, depending on the subject and data. Most timelines use a linear scale, where a unit of distance is equal to a set amount of time. This time scale is dependent on the events in the timeline. A timeline of evolution can be over millions of years, whereas a timeline for the day of the September 11 attacks can take place over minutes. While most timelines use a linear timescale, for very large or small timespans, logarithmic timelines use a logarithmic scale to depict time.
- Text timelines, labeled as text
- Number timelines, the labels are numbers, commonly line graphs
There are many methods of visualizations for timelines. Historically, timelines were static images, and generally drawn or printed on paper. Timelines relied heavily on graphic design, and the ability of the artist to visualize the data. Minard's map (1861) of Napoleon's invasion of Russia is an example of a non-standard timeline that also uses geography as part of the visualization.
Timelines, no longer constrained by previous space and functional limitations, are now digital and interactive, generally created with computer software.
- Detailed logarithmic timeline
- List of timelines
- Living graph
- Logarithmic timeline
- Sequence of events
- Synchronoptic view
- Timeline of world history
- Grafton, Anthony; Rosenberg, Daniel (2010), Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline, Princeton Architectural Press, p. 272, ISBN 978-1-56898-763-7
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- Timelines: sources from history a British Library interactive history timeline that explores collection items chronologically, from medieval times to the present day
- ChronoZoom is a timeline for Big History being developed for the International Big History Association by Microsoft Research and University of California, Berkeley
- "Visualizing a Universe of Data: ChronoZoom". Microsoft Research. Microsoft. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
- "Timeline Software". MindView Solutions. MatchWare Education. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
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