Create Interactive Timelines With Preceden

Timelines are useful in many different ways, whether for a student project, as a teaching aide or simply as a way to visualize events that have happened in our lives. Unfortunately, many timeline tools are cumbersome and inflexible, making timelines a not easily viable option. Preceden, however, turns that totally around.

Preceden allows users to create timelines in a matter of minutes, with as much or as little content as desired. Timelines are easily organized and shareable, but can easily be kept private if needed. The timelines can be shared online or in physical form thanks to the features of Preceden. Read on to learn more about how the application works and what I think about it.

Creating and Viewing a Basic Timeline

Creating and viewing a simple timeline is definitely what Preceden was made for. The process is incredibly simple and it took me just three minutes to make a timeline with multiple layers and events. The site and process is incredibly intuitive and easy to decipher. When you choose to create a timeline, you are able to add two features – an event or a layer. Most likely, you will want to add an event first. When you add an event, a box comes up with a few options. You can enter the name, choose a color and enter the appropriate date(s). You can also select whether the layer is a “milestone” (a single date) or an event with start and possibly end dates. The dates are represented by a vertical line or horizontal bar, respectively, in the visual timeline.

Adding an event

You can also choose to add layers to the timeline in order to separate events into different categories. On my timeline, for example, I added an “Education” layer which contained some important dates from my education history. When you add a layer, a box pops up and you simply enter the name and any applicable notes. You can easily add and delete layers or drag them to rearrange the order by using the layer order option. The layers are a great feature, making it simple to keep events organized and easy to understand.

Adding a layer.

Even after adding events, it is simple to edit, navigate to or delete the events. Located just below the interactive timeline is a list of the events in basic text, making it easy to find the event you are searching for. From this section, buttons to edit, goto and delete each event are available.

Editing the events in the timeline.

When your timeline is complete, viewing and interacting with the timeline is easy. Simply click and drag to view the various parts of the timeline. The zoom options are incredibly full-featured, allowing you to view events zoomed in to one second or up to 10 billion years at a time. You can also utilize the auto (show everything) option to fit your whole timeline on the screen at once. This huge range of zoom options shows that Preceden has really considered how to make this application useful for a huge variety of purposes rather than just a few timeline types.

Changing the view options for the timeline.

Advanced Usage

While creating a simple text-based entry is great, that is not all that Preceden is good for. You can also add images and links to the timeline, although these options are not quite as simple. To add an image, it must be hosted elsewhere on the web. You can then paste the url into the notes and the image will show up in the timeline. Links are also added via the notes section, using the format “Link title”:url. While both options suffice, they are not nearly as user friendly as the rest of the timeline creation experience. I look forward to Preceden creating more intuitive ways to add links and images to the timeline, making those options sync with the rest of the site.

Adding an image.

If you are looking for a simple way to import a large number of events, you can upload a Comma Separated Value (CSV) file. In the file, simply write the layer name, event name, description, start date, end date and the color. Then upload the file and the events are all automatically added to the timeline.

Ability to import a CSV file.

When you are ready to share the calendar, the options are simple and varied. First, you can simply modify the visibility of the timeline on Preceden’s website and then share the URL as deemed necessary. Simply choose from the options “everyone,” “everyone, but don’t list it on the shared timelines page,” “only me” or “restricted,” which requires a password of your choosing. You can also download the timeline as an image or a printable PDF. Lastly, Preceden offers simple options to embed the timeline directly into your personal site or blog (although WordPress is not supported due to privacy and security restrictions).

Editing the sharing permissions.

Preceden offers some bonus “calculator tools” on the site. They feature a “date duration calculator” to calculate the number of days between two dates. They also offer an age calculator to calculate precise age and date of birth.

Lastly, it is important to discuss the difference between the free and pro account. The free account allows unlimited timelines, but each timeline is allowed only 5 events. The pro account costs a one-time purchase of $49 and allows an unlimited number of events for each timeline.

Pro account options.

Uses and Final Thoughts

Preceden is a great site thanks to the flexibility and ease of use. The number of ways to use Preceden are incredible. While I used the site to create a basic timeline of my life, that is only one of a few ways. Authors, for example, can use the timeline to organize a series of events for whatever they are writing. Lawyers and investigators can use the application to keep track of events before, during and after a crime. Use the fact that you can zoom in on events down to the second to track the timeline of scientific experiments or take advantage of the huge views to create historical timelines for school projects or teaching aids.

Creating a school project.

Conclusion

Preceden is a fantastic application. It is clean, easy to navigate and understand. It is intuitive so timelines are created quickly and easily. The events are easy to edit, rearrange and organize. The sharing is varied enough to suit most but not so much that it gets overwhelming. There are, of course, a few problems. First, I wish that it was easier to add images and links to the timeline. The difficulty of those actions compared with the rest of the site seems out of place. I also do not think that the pro account is a great value. I wish that the free accounts were not quite so limited, or that more levels of accounts were possible. I enjoy the site and think it’s a great application, but I am not excited to pay $50 for the privilege of adding more than 5 events to the single timeline I want to make.

All in all, I believe it is a pretty great application. What do you think? Do you use Preceden? Is the cost justified? Or not? Share your thoughts below.


Summary

An application designed to allow users to create simple and intuitive timelines to share in a variety of ways.

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