Sunday, March 16, 2008

Let's do the time warp...

As part of our digital history class' final project, we are creating an interactive exhibit, ambiguously named 'The Sky'. For my contribution, I have been working with MIT's SIMILE Timeline API to create an interactive timeline of the Cold War. SIMILE Timeline is essentially the Google Maps for temporal data and allows you to map out events on a scrolling timeline. It's surprisingly user-friendly and provides most of the code in copy-and-paste format so that users simply have to tweak it to get it to work the way they want it to. Users do have to write the "event source" XML file to place events on to the timeline, however third-party applications that generate this code have popped up on the web. Of course, I only noticed this after I'd spent an entire day writing my event source; oh well, good experience.
Though the project is not live on the web yet, here is what it looks like. It's easy to scroll through and find events and each event links to the Wikipedia article on the subject. Nifty!

So, if you find yourself with some free time, give SIMILE Timeline a try. The documentation is not complete, but if you do a Google search for what you want, you'll come up with plenty of people willing to tell you how.

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