Aeon Timeline Version 0.1 (Beta)

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shorn
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Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:58 pm Post

Congratulations, Matt.

I have been looking forward to this and I think it is going to be very useful.

I have only just begun to work with Aeon and so far I have not had the program crash.

- I have found similar problems as others with setting dates. The whole date selection process seems very picky. When creating a new event or editing an existing date, for example, it seems to accept a date only if I choose, in order, the year, then the month, then a specific day. Otherwise it keeps the original date.

- The filter mechanism appears to search only on first name. If I create a Tom Jones and a Tom Brown, typing "tom" displays both, but so does either "Tom Jones" or "Tom Brown", and "jones" displays nothing.

I have a couple of questions/comments, and to clarify where I am coming from, I am hoping to use this to map out a history I am writing. This has a couple of implications that differ from what makes sense for writing fiction.

1) I may not need (or even know) the birth date of a historical personage (and his or her age may not be relevant). So personally I would appreciate it if a birth date was not required when creating a character. This applies to using institutions as characters. In a history a government or a company may be an important actor, but their "birth date" generally has no meaning.

2) Related to this, when you create a character, their birth is entered as an event in the timeline. I don't need this, so I delete the event, but the person remains as a character, which is great. However, if I later decide to enter a birth date, or change it, having deleted the event from the timeline, I don't see anywhere to do this.

3) I like the possibility of using colour-coding, but it would be nice if this become a full category or keyword mechanism, with no limit on the number of characters, the ability to choose colours for categories, and to display by category. (Similarly some kind of tagging mechanism would be good too.)

That's all for now, and all niggles aside, thanks again.

Best,
Simon
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AndreasE
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Sat Nov 01, 2008 9:34 pm Post

A thought: It would be useful to have the possibility to define the death date of a character as well. Mostly not for the protagonist, sure, but for developing his or her family relations. ("Beloved grandma died at... last memory was... together with..." etc.)

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matt
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:09 am Post

shorn wrote:The filter mechanism appears to search only on first name. If I create a Tom Jones and a Tom Brown, typing "tom" displays both, but so does either "Tom Jones" or "Tom Brown", and "jones" displays nothing.


At present it only matches against the start of a name, and treats the space as a delimiter between names (so it would search for a name starting with Tom or a name starting with Jones). I can see where this behaviour would be a problem for you - I'll switch the delimiter to a comma, and make it match the middle of names as well in a future release.

shorn wrote:1) I may not need (or even know) the birth date of a historical personage (and his or her age may not be relevant). So personally I would appreciate it if a birth date was not required when creating a character. This applies to using institutions as characters. In a history a government or a company may be an important actor, but their "birth date" generally has no meaning.


I may add a separate option to create separate non-character participants (institutions, buildings) without a birth date. These would then never have their age displayed, etc. in events.

The hard part is giving them a decent catch-all name.

shorn wrote:2) Related to this, when you create a character, their birth is entered as an event in the timeline. I don't need this, so I delete the event, but the person remains as a character, which is great. However, if I later decide to enter a birth date, or change it, having deleted the event from the timeline, I don't see anywhere to do this.


This is a bug, because deleting a character's birth event *should* delete that character!

shorn wrote:3) I like the possibility of using colour-coding, but it would be nice if this become a full category or keyword mechanism, with no limit on the number of characters, the ability to choose colours for categories, and to display by category. (Similarly some kind of tagging mechanism would be good too.)


I plan to extend the colours to a full-label system like in Scrivener - making it possible to give each colour a name, and add your own.

I am not entirely sure what you mean with the full category/keyword mechanism. Could you outline your idea in a little more detail - perhaps in a new post so it doesn't get lost amongst the general bug reports.

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matt
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:13 am Post

AndreasE wrote:A thought: It would be useful to have the possibility to define the death date of a character as well. Mostly not for the protagonist, sure, but for developing his or her family relations. ("Beloved grandma died at... last memory was... together with..." etc.)


You can already associate an event as the "death event" for a character.

To do so, instead of left-clicking at the intersection point to cycle through "observer/participant/no participation", right-click. You will be presented with a menu that allows you to select 'Death' as well. I think this is mentioned in the documentation already, but it is a long document :)

Matt

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AndreasE
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:59 pm Post

matt wrote:
AndreasE wrote:A thought: It would be useful to have the possibility to define the death date of a character as well. Mostly not for the protagonist, sure, but for developing his or her family relations. ("Beloved grandma died at... last memory was... together with..." etc.)


You can already associate an event as the "death event" for a character.

To do so, instead of left-clicking at the intersection point to cycle through "observer/participant/no participation", right-click. You will be presented with a menu that allows you to select 'Death' as well. I think this is mentioned in the documentation already, but it is a long document :)


Oh, I see. Thanks. I always like to find my wishes already fulfilled before I have asked... :lol:

Your solution is even better than what I had in mind, because of course the death of a character influences all the others related to him. And it's as well useful to still have the line and the information "3 years dead" - I didn't thought of this one.

RT
RTJK
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 5:12 pm Post

Hi Matt - looks like a very useful app indeed. I'd like to help beta test as well.

As requested, I've a few suggestions and observations:

First - I saw a few others were using a small screen and you've addressed that, but I'm using a small screen (1024x768) and Tiger (10.4.11) and I'm getting a few very strange UI things. Is there an email address where I can send some screenshots? (Is this meant to be a Leopard only app? I didn't read that anywhere if so.)

Things include names at the top being truncated, and I can't click to hide the name as the pdf suggests. If I do click on the name, it becomes editable.

Also the 'unusable' area to the left of the first name in the timeline is very large, which means I only have at best three 'name lines' visible at a time when the inspector is open (four when inspector is closed). Could the positioning of these vertical lines be user variable?

The bottom slider bar to change the viewable scale only goes to about 50% of my timeline, regardless how few events are on there.

And I'm getting major strangeness generally with the calendar thingy. Sometimes it doesn't show a year. Sometimes several weekdays are highlighted at once. Sometimes the time clock bit doesn't remember what I typed.

The filter doesn't work for me. I entered a character called Bobby and a separate event titled Boom! and typing Bo (or bo) into the filter removes the event Boom!

Apologies if any of this has been covered and I missed it somewhere. I did rtfm!

In terms of suggestions - one neat trick would be a pop-up screen which aggregates all the notes on your timeline into a single (paragraph-separated) block of text. This could then enable you to be up and running with an outline very fast.

Many thanks for the hard work. I think you have something here.

Robin
Re-examine all that you have been told...
dismiss that which insults your soul.
- Walt Whitman

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shorn
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 9:39 pm Post

Hi Matt,

Another couple of bugs/problems:
- The window size does not stay between restarts.
- The Show/Hide Age setting does not stay between restarts.
- I assume that printing and PDF export are not yet implemented? In any case I can't get them to work.

Following from an earlier post, I can definitely delete a character's birth event, but the character column is left behind, which I now understand is not supposed to happen. Of course, now I can't get rid of the character column. :?

In case the bugs are piling up, don't get discouraged. Think of all the things we said to Keith, and if we get too stupid or ask for ridiculous add-ons, follow his example and tell us to stop. :twisted:

Cheers,
Simon
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nicolinux
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Sun Nov 02, 2008 10:27 pm Post

Hi !

I'm glad that Aeon is finally here... I'll beta test it as I think it will be very useful for my writing. But for now, I must read the manual to find out how everything works...

If you need help translating it, you can count on me for French... :wink:

Thanks for everything...

Pl
Plette
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Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:06 am Post

I've been playing with this for the past few days and I just wanted to say thank you. The program, even in its 0.1 version, is already more useful to me than any of the finished apps out there for sale. There are bugs to be worked out, of course, but the unique and writer-focused approach to a timeline is priceless. I would have tried to do something like this myself if it wasn't for the fact that I have less programming ability than a box of nails.

Some small things I have noticed:
- I too had noticed the issue with events not re-ordering themselves when the dates are changed, although I somehow fixed this by fiddling (clicking/dragging) with the timeline bar on the left. I wish I knew what it was I did that fixed it, but I can't reproduce it yet. Will keep trying. I think it had something to do with date selection - I would change the year and month in the inspector for an event, but not pick an actual day of the month, so it wouldn't register the change and it'd stay in its previous order.

- I was having some issues with zooming. For example I had a timeline which stretched from 1800-2008, and I had some events in the 1800's, but even at max zoom level the timeline bar on the left was only showing 2007-2008. I was able to fix this by fiddling with the timeline bar on the left but again, not sure what I did. I will work on reproducing this and report back.

- When I attempt to resize the window by dragging the bottom right corner, I am able to adjust the width of the app, but I cannot change the height, which means that some of the bottom of the window is underneath my dock. If I press the green resize button in the top left of the window, the height readjusts to above the dock, but if I then go to resize it at the bottom right by dragging, the window resets to its original (obstructed by dock) height.

And one suggestion/request: would it be possible to have the timeline expand organically? Often when I'm working, I think I am only going to need a timeline spanning 100 years, but as I work things often pop up that I want to note, like the founding of a city 300 years before, etc. It would be fantastic if I could just add a new event with an earlier date than the timeline encompasses and have the timeline auto-expand, without me having to take the extra step of changing its range. This would help make the interface unobtrusive and keep the focus on the subject matter, I think.

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Jot
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Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:46 am Post

What an exciting program! I can't wait to give it a workout. Congratulations.

My first attempt yielded a crash but like the total dork I am, I hadn't started the console thing (to be honest, I don't know what it is). Anyway, a window popped up that wanted to tell Apple about the crash, so I copied the text from that into a text file and attached it just in case it was of any use.

What happened: I had just installed the application and opened a blank document. Had a look around, and had closed the unmodified file. Then it crashed.

Sorry I wasn't of more help.

Anyway, congratulations again - I think a lot of people here are going to be very excited by this project!
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matt
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Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:22 am Post

Thanks Jot,
It seems to be a Tiger issue, as I have had another user report a similar problem.

I am now trying to find a way to dual-boot Tiger alongside Leopard so I can test it out properly.

Matt

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chefpogo
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Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:34 pm Post

I just downloaded the beta. This is awesome. I need to spend some time testing it now, but just wanted to say thank you, its been very fascinating following the development of this application. I'm impressed!

pogo

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Redfox
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Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:42 am Post

Hi Matt

I downloaded and installed Aeon Timeline at the weekend when I was having trouble with my novel's alternate history, and it's been a great help already!

I haven't had any crashes yet, and I'm running it on Tiger (with the latest OSX updates). I'll post more feedback when I have time - I'm trying to press on with NaNoWriMo and resisting the urge to be distracted by new software :)

Thanks again for putting this program together - it's a fantastic idea and I look forward to the stable release with massive anticipation!
Elizabethan fantasy novels The Alchemist of Souls, The Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies by me, Anne Lyle, out now from Angry Robot Books!

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matt
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Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:42 am Post

Version 0.1.2 is now available.

Please download the latest version, and post all new bug reports to that thread.

Matt