Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Story Time: TimelineJS Allows Users to Create an Interactive Timeline Using Google Spreadsheets

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Story Time: TimelineJS Allows Users to Create an Interactive Timeline Using Google Spreadsheets

Article excerpt

Telling a story can come in many different shapes and forms. With TimelineJS, journalists can quickly create multi-media interactive timelines that engage readers in a visually appealing manner. The open-source tool was created by Zach Wise shortly after he began working at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism's Knight Lab, which develops prototypes, projects and services to enhance quality journalism, storytelling and content on the internet. Wise based TimelineJS off his experience working with similar tools at the New York Times.

'We had been building easy-to-use interactive tools for the newsroom for years," he said. "These tools allowed anyone of any skill level to be able to tell stories in a number of forms."

In order to build a timeline, a reporter must complete the tool's unique Google Spreadsheet template that allows users to drop dates, text and links to media into the appropriate columns. A user can embed content found on platforms like Twitter, Flickr, Google Maps and YouTube in a timeline simply by copying and pasting a standard URL. Once you've created a timeline, you can make changes by going back to your Google spreadsheet.

"We get a lot of positive feedback and also receive contributions from all over the world which has allowed us to make it available in over 65 languages," Wise said. "We also have a Zendesk ticket system that we try and help support users from."

Although he receives a number of requests for new features from users, Wise said most of them would make TimelineJS "too complex for 90 percent of people or make the user interface more confusing for the content viewer. …

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