A couple weeks ago, the Open Knowledge Foundation released TimeMapper, an online too that allows you to create timelines and maps through Google Spreadsheets. I’ve been using it since it was released and have found that it creates clean, professional timelines once you get the hang of it.
TimeMapper creates your timeline based on information you’ve entered into a GIS-style spreadsheet. OKFN Labs has provided a template that establishes the basic data TimeMapper will recognize. It looks like this:
See the Place and Location columns? As long as you’ve set it up correctly, the template will automatically process the Place column and convert it to Latitude and Longitude using an OpenStreetMaps API. On your map, it’ll place solid pins for specific locations like towns, and translucent pins for regions like counties. One downside is that as you add more and more data to your spreadsheet, it can end up looking pretty messy. Here’s what mine looks like now:
This spreadsheet fuels a timeline I’ve created of the individual Civil War battles that constituted the Atlanta Campaign of 1864. The finished product looks pretty fantastic. For now, the descriptions and images are sourced from Wikipedia. If I end using it for ECDS’s Battle of Atlanta project, I’ll be writing up the descriptions myself. I also intend to move the locations to the actual battlefields rather than the towns in which the battles took place. Down the line, I’ll also be using TimeMapper for riots in Boston that moved from location to location. Overall, TimeMapper is an accessible tool that makes it easy to create timelines for large and small projects alike.