Pulling this out of an earlier thread to develop it more:
gilgamesh wrote:• There should be a way to enter a time as less specific (give the user a choice of not putting in the hours) like when you click on "all day" in iCal and the appointment changes to not show the time.
Matt wrote: This is one that has been brought up a fair bit, in the sense of wanting to be able to provide less precision, although no one has suggested an "all day" checkbox, which is probably the best presentation idea I have heard so far. I will look at how iCal does it and think about how the layout and formatting could work.
Some thoughts about this from a new user:
This is not the only type of imprecision that might be valuable. For example, for events that the historical record does not provide information more specific than, say, a month or a year - it would be very helpful to be able to not enter incorrect information or make everything on such a imprecise level in order to to include these events.
One idea might be a character that one could use instead of digits 0-9 in order to omit that level of granularity. For example, if ? could be used (with a rule that it must be used consecutively from the most precise part of the date up to the part that is to show). What I mean is that you couldn't have seconds showing without minutes, the month without the year, the day without the month, etc.
So 05-??-1301 would be valid in month/day/year, but ??/03/1301 would not be.
??-??-1301 would be valid in month/day/year, but ??/03/???? would not be. etc.
This would allow a mix of precise and imprecise date listings in the same timeline and fulfill a need for non-fiction/historical use, as well as some fiction use in which the date is not precise or which the fiction author has not as yet pinned down for some reason—while the book is in development, would be one such likely scenario. For example, the author could use such a feature to make a note, for example, of the approximate time by which, say, a red herring, a key piece of evidence, or a confession must be introduced, prior to having worked out the exact plot sequence in detail.
I would imagine that the appropriate duration to show on the timeline would be the whole of the smallest entity specified, so 05-??-1301 would display for the month of May in 1301.
Perhaps it could have some feature to indicate imprecision - this could be the font: perhaps all such imprecise events could be in italic font to distinguish them.
Thanks for considering this.