Aeon Timeline Version 0.5 (Fantasy Dates)

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matt
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Sun Jan 09, 2011 11:42 am Post

Aeon Timeline Version 0.5.0 (Beta) can be downloaded from the following URL:

http://aeontimeline.wordpress.com/latest-version/

The application has been tested on Snow Leopard and Leopard, but there may be a few issues that are yet to appear. No testing has been done on Tiger yet.

This version uses a new Calendar format to work with Fantasy Dates, and will update old files to this new format when they are first opened. As this is the new release with the new format, IT IS VITAL THAT YOU BACKUP ALL IMPORTANT TIMELINE FILES BEFORE OPENING THEM IN THIS NEW VERSION.

As mentioned, the most important addition to this version is the new Fantasy Calendar system. When creating a new timeline, you are now presented with a screen to select which calendar you wish to use. You can select to use a standard calendar, a calendar you have created previously, or to create an entirely new calendar.

Creating a Fantasy Calendar lets you setup a number of eras (with a duration counting either forwards or backwards), months, weekdays, and the number of hours in a day.


Although it was popular with some people, I have removed the variable-zooming timeline from this version as it was getting too troublesome and did not look as clean as I was hoping.

In its place, this version allows the user to zoom in and out on areas of the timeline much more easily using the scroll wheel or scroll gestures. To do so, just hold down the Command key as you use the scroll wheel with the mouse hovered over the area you wish to zoom in on.

A new, much cleaner Context Bar has also been added for use with both Entity View and Story Arc View. This context bar shows a less-zoomed view of the area surrounding the main view. This context bar will be developed in further releases to show the position of events as dots on the line, and to act as an alternative scroll bar.


Before downloading the beta, please read the Introduction and Beta/Forum Rules.

Please post all general bug reports found in this beta as a reply to this thread. Wish list items and discussion of other pending features belong in their own threads.

If the application crashes, please include the crash log and output from the Console in your bug report.

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igregor
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Sun Jan 09, 2011 3:11 pm Post

Nice work. I really like the command/zoom feature that remains centered on a selected event!

I have a question about how the context range is set/determined in Story Arc view. I noticed that the end dates of the context bar change as I zoom the SA view, while the tan slider window remains fixed in size. Why not the reverse? Keep the ends fixed while the slider window changes size?

For example, for a timeline set to begin in 1965 and end in 2015, I noticed that the range of the context bar in the SA view ranges from 1751 - 2051 when I max out the SA zoom. Why 1751 and 2051? Where'd they come from? Why not keep the start & end dates in the context bar fixed at 1965 and 2015 respectively regardless of zoom level, and have the tan slider window adjust in size?

Thanks.
-- iGregor

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janra
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:59 am Post

Hooray, new Aeon!!!!

So the very first thing I did when loading up my novel's timeline was to scroll from the birth events over to the actual story events, using the sideways 2-finger swipe on my touchpad. The display had a serious vibration thing going on there. It didn't vibrate when scrolling up and down through the display, only sideways. (This was in story arc view.) The context bar also vibrated. Scrolling both vertically and sideways in entity view was smooth.

Zooming is nice and easy. I like the first 30 seconds of the new version :-)

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matt
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:40 am Post

igregor wrote:Nice work. I really like the command/zoom feature that remains centered on a selected event!

I have a question about how the context range is set/determined in Story Arc view. I noticed that the end dates of the context bar change as I zoom the SA view, while the tan slider window remains fixed in size. Why not the reverse? Keep the ends fixed while the slider window changes size?

For example, for a timeline set to begin in 1965 and end in 2015, I noticed that the range of the context bar in the SA view ranges from 1751 - 2051 when I max out the SA zoom. Why 1751 and 2051? Where'd they come from? Why not keep the start & end dates in the context bar fixed at 1965 and 2015 respectively regardless of zoom level, and have the tan slider window adjust in size?

Thanks.


Hi,
Firstly - there is a bug in that the Context Bar does not work initially if you open a timeline in Entity View. Swap to Story Arc view, and then back to Entity View, and it will begin behaving correctly (i.e. panning with the timeline, zooming in and out as appropriate). I will fix this up in the next round of bug fixes.

I made the design decision to keep the slider constant for a few different reasons.

The old Entity View context bar behaved as you suggest: it was always fixed to show the cover the entire span of the timeline, and the highlight bar changed size and position to reflect the current main window.

When working with long timelines and higher zoom levels, I found that approach to be ineffective, and for very high zoom levels (eg. viewing events by the hour), entirely impractical. The highlight would shrink so small that you could barely see it, and trying to control the main window's position from the Context Bar was impossible to get the kind of precision required (given one pixel in the Context Bar may have covered several years).

In effect, it gave you no real useful information of your current context: you knew you were looking at 9pm on a Tuesday, and from the context bar you knew you were somewhere near 1990 and there were a few other events in the area - not very useful.

The approach with this new bar is different: it provides context by showing you an area approximately 10 times larger than the current main view. It means you don't get to see the entire timeline, but what it does show is useful information that helps you know exactly where you are looking in the timeline and what surrounds your area.

Personally, when working with Aeon in the past, I have found that when I am zoomed in to a day level, I am more interested in the context of the days around it than something else in the timeline 20 years ago. When I am interested in 20 years ago, I will zoom out to see the timeline in the wider context.

The user interface is now built around the idea that people will use the scroll zoom constantly as part of their navigation. Zooming in to the bits they are interested in, then zooming out to find their next area, then zooming in again (it sure beats a lot of scrolling).

Hopefully, using the interface that way will become more natural for everyone and it is not just me that sees this as the cleanest solution. I expect it will become easier and more intuitive once the Context Bar itself can be used for navigation (I already find myself intuitively reaching for it to do the job, only to find that it is not yet implemented).

Plus, I think it looks a lot crisper and more attractive implemented the way I have done it, with the window fixed in the centre and the time scrolling past.

If you disagree with any of the above, I am open to further ideas that still address the problem with the old system.

Thanks,
Matt

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matt
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:42 am Post

janra wrote:Hooray, new Aeon!!!!

So the very first thing I did when loading up my novel's timeline was to scroll from the birth events over to the actual story events, using the sideways 2-finger swipe on my touchpad. The display had a serious vibration thing going on there. It didn't vibrate when scrolling up and down through the display, only sideways. (This was in story arc view.) The context bar also vibrated. Scrolling both vertically and sideways in entity view was smooth.

Zooming is nice and easy. I like the first 30 seconds of the new version :-)


Hi janra,
Thanks, I will take a look at that vibration thing to see if I can figure out what is going on (I have noticed it before myself on occasions, but only on Leopard, not Snow Leopard, and it seemed zoom dependent to me).

Does it always happen for you, or is it affected by the different zoom levels?
Does it vibrate if you zoom in and out of the timeline using Command+scroll wheel, or only when panning?
Finally, what operating system are you using, and what is your input device (mouse or track pad)?

Matt

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janra
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:46 am Post

matt wrote:Hi janra,
Thanks, I will take a look at that vibration thing to see if I can figure out what is going on (I have noticed it before myself on occasions, but only on Leopard, not Snow Leopard, and it seemed zoom dependent to me).

Does it always happen for you, or is it affected by the different zoom levels?
Does it vibrate if you zoom in and out of the timeline using Command+scroll wheel, or only when panning?
Finally, what operating system are you using, and what is your input device (mouse or track pad)?

Matt


It happened at every zoom level I tried. I zoomed right in until the vertical scroll bar disappeared to see if that had something to do with it.

It doesn't vibrate on zooming, only on sideways panning. Zooming isn't smooth/continuous, but it jumps from one zoom level to the next without vibration. I assume that is its intended behaviour.

I'm on snow leopard/macbook pro 13", and using the laptop trackpad.

Just played with zoom/pan again, and noticed that while zooming the event under the mouse stays under the mouse, when I went to pan immediately after, it jumped to a different time entirely and I had to zoom out again to find my events. (I have big blank spaces in the current timeline)

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matt
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:29 am Post

janra wrote:It happened at every zoom level I tried. I zoomed right in until the vertical scroll bar disappeared to see if that had something to do with it.

It doesn't vibrate on zooming, only on sideways panning. Zooming isn't smooth/continuous, but it jumps from one zoom level to the next without vibration. I assume that is its intended behaviour.

I'm on snow leopard/macbook pro 13", and using the laptop trackpad.

Just played with zoom/pan again, and noticed that while zooming the event under the mouse stays under the mouse, when I went to pan immediately after, it jumped to a different time entirely and I had to zoom out again to find my events. (I have big blank spaces in the current timeline)


Just to confirm: this is only in Story Arc View, and in Entity View it is fine?

Matt

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janra
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:36 am Post

matt wrote:Just to confirm: this is only in Story Arc View, and in Entity View it is fine?

Matt


Correct.

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igregor
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:43 pm Post

When working with long timelines and higher zoom levels, I found that approach to be ineffective, and for very high zoom levels (eg. viewing events by the hour), entirely impractical. The highlight would shrink so small that you could barely see it, and trying to control the main window's position from the Context Bar was impossible to get the kind of precision required (given one pixel in the Context Bar may have covered several years)....The approach with this new bar is different: it provides context by showing you an area approximately 10 times larger than the current main view. It means you don't get to see the entire timeline, but what it does show is useful information that helps you know exactly where you are looking in the timeline and what surrounds your area.


I typically don't use the hour level of precision. But when I zoom all the way in to the 3 hour block level, I think I see what you're trying to accomplish. Not bad. I suspect the benefits of your approach will become even clearer as you flesh out the context/event tic mark feature. FWIW, I'd find it useful to be able to scroll with the left/right arrow keys, and zoom with, say, the up/down arrow keys.

Looking goooood...
-- iGregor

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matt
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:06 pm Post

Hi,
Thanks for the suggestion of the arrow keys. It is certainly something I will think about.

Although, I was also thinking about using the arrow keys to manipulate events - eg. if you press up/down, a selected event could move up or down by some amount.

I'm not sure that I could implement both at once, so I will give it some more thought.

Matt

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matt
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:09 pm Post

janra wrote:It happened at every zoom level I tried. I zoomed right in until the vertical scroll bar disappeared to see if that had something to do with it.

It doesn't vibrate on zooming, only on sideways panning. Zooming isn't smooth/continuous, but it jumps from one zoom level to the next without vibration. I assume that is its intended behaviour.

I'm on snow leopard/macbook pro 13", and using the laptop trackpad.

Just played with zoom/pan again, and noticed that while zooming the event under the mouse stays under the mouse, when I went to pan immediately after, it jumped to a different time entirely and I had to zoom out again to find my events. (I have big blank spaces in the current timeline)


It was perhaps the most nightmarish bug hunt I have had, but I've finally tracked down the jittery bug after a lot of digging through a lot of undocumented Apple features. I could reproduce the bug with a track pad, but not a standard mouse. I didn't even think it was possible for them to behave differently.

Sadly, its now 1am, and I have work tomorrow, so I won't be able to upload a fix now, but I should be able to do it tomorrow evening. I have fixed up several other bugs as well. Just the reported Crash on Quit and Exporting problems to go.

Matt

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igregor
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:36 pm Post

matt wrote:Thanks for the suggestion of the arrow keys...I was also thinking about using the arrow keys to manipulate events...not sure that I could implement both at once, so I will give it some more thought.


OK. How about option-arrow? or control-arrow? or, or, or...?
-- iGregor

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Louis
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:28 pm Post

Just a niggle. In the new calendar setup window, I suggest changing the word "Setup" -- a noun -- to "Set up", its verb form. Using a noun as a verb might be irksome to crotchety old writers like myself. Or, change the word to "Create", or similar, which is what one would usually see when creating new entities.

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matt
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Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:10 pm Post

Louis wrote:Just a niggle. In the new calendar setup window, I suggest changing the word "Setup" -- a noun -- to "Set up", its verb form. Using a noun as a verb might be irksome to crotchety old writers like myself. Or, change the word to "Create", or similar, which is what one would usually see when creating new entities.


Crotchety old writers are a key target demographic for the software :mrgreen:

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matt
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Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:46 pm Post

As I have released version 0.5.1 to fix most of the bugs reported for 0.5.0, I will lock this thread from further posts.

Please report any new bugs, feedback, ideas etc. in the thread for the new version.

Thanks,
Matt