Timeline: Chart Life in 3D

I am a big fan of history. There is so much for us to learn from the past and do the necessary changes for a better future. If it weren’t for the boring prose and illustrations in the text books, I would have showed more interest in that subject. Making people visualize a timeline is painstaking and you might need an app like Timeline 3D to ease things a bit.

Timeline 3D makes it easy for you to present historical events in a way that reveals connections and clarifies relationships. With the help of this app three dimensional timeline charts of world history, family trees, fictional events or business deadlines can be brought to life with very little effort. Follow me after the fold to check out this gorgeous app!

Getting Started

Selecting a Template

Selecting a Template

Going in, I doubted a bit if an app that does complex stuff and outputs everything in 3D would be easy to use. A helpful template selection wizard at launch alleviated that doubt from my mind. Additionally, the app also offers few popular sources from where events can be imported. Apps like iCal, Basecamp Classic, iTunes and many more have made the list.

Creating a Timeline from RSS Feed

Creating a Timeline from RSS Feed

It’s optional to choose a source at this stage and you can skip this step to create one from scratch. I tried importing an RSS feed to see how easy the entire process actually is. So, I entered the Mac.AppStorm RSS feed URL, selected which items from the posts should be incorporated in the timeline and the date range.

Timeline View of Posts

Timeline View of Posts

As soon as I hit Create Timeline, the app started churning the information from the source and in a few seconds, I had a timeline in front of me. Events from the same day were arranged closely together, but at varying levels. There was quite a large gap between events from consecutive days, but this might be there to make the 3D rendering easier.

Editing a Timeline

Editing an Event

Editing an Event

Click on any event to change the details. Any piece of information can be edited including the date. Altering the date automatically moves the event to its rightful place in the calendar. Got too many events to edit? Try the Bulk Edit mode to edit them all real quick from a simple to use list view. Dedicated buttons to add or delete events are available in the menubar too.

Customizing the Timeline

Customizing the Timeline

Finer details of the timeline can be customized from the right side pane. Timeline 3D allows you to tell stories with images, video, narration and musical soundtracks. Simply drag and drop media onto your events and sit back to enjoy the show!

At this stage, I was pretty much sold on the idea of Timeline 3D. I was even more excited when I found the sharing options. In just a few clicks you can publish your timeline to the web. These shared timelines work well on all browsers and are also optimized for mobile devices. If that isn’t enough to convince your social sharing needs, the ability to embed timelines in web pages might do the trick.

Viewing in 3D

3D View

3D View

Now it’s time to checkout the flagship feature, the 3D view of the timeline. They are breathtaking. Timelines are displayed in true full screen mode and I couldn’t access even the screen grabbing app that I use regularly. As noted earlier, spicing it up with audio and video is upto you. Events come flying by one after another and when the current event is in focus, the previous and upcoming events add depth to the 3D view.

One gripe of mine is that the 3D view doesn’t run unattended, like a video clip. You will have to manually use the arrow keys to move events along. If you own an Apple Remote, that can be used to navigate through events as well.

Just in the case of sharing with others, the timelines you create can be rendered as high definition video to iTunes, published to YouTube or integrated into video projects using Apple’s iMovie or Final Cut Pro.

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, timelines can help you present and understand history better. They become a fresh new way of educating people in a new perspective. Another aspect that works in favor of Timeline 3D is its pricing. Even with all the bell and whistles, Timeline 3D costs just $65.

If you find that expensive, a slimmed down version of the app is available in the App Store as Easy Timeline for $19.99. This version is ideal for hobbyists and is available for download from the app store. Folks from all walks life stand to benefit a lot from the instant clarity that Timeline 3D readily offers. In particular, teachers now have a silver bullet to grab their students attention. I can’t stop appreciating this nifty app. How about you?


Summary

Timeline 3D for Mac OS X makes it easy for you to present historical events in a way that reveals connections and clarifies relationships.

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