Need a timeline type app

One of the problems I’ve been having with my stories is that I can’t keep a reasonable timeline.

I’ve been looking for something that will simply allow me to keep track of events of a number of weeks or months.

So far, I’ve found some incredibly complex time management/project mananagement apps, which are much to complicated.
I’ve also found some spreadsheets which are just too much work.

My stories only have maybe 6-10 main chars, so I want some way of keeping track visually of them if I can. Years ago, I used a program called Lotus Organiser on the pc which did exactly what I wanted (as I recall). I see that it’s available for the mac, but I have no idea whether it still has the same features (no evaluation version that I can find).

Does anyone know of something relatively simple (these aren’t terribly complex timelines I’m dealing with, it’s just that I want to keep events in a reasonable order) program - I’m happy to pay for something if it does the job. Or, even better, does anyone still use Lotus Organiser?

You could always try one of the Omnic products:

Omni Outliner

I don’t know if they would do what you need, but they both have trial versions.

A Gantt chart application might work for you. GanttProject is open source, free, and simple to use in the way you describe you’d like to use it. Might be worth a look.

Try: Bee Docs’ Timeline

I’m using it for a timeline to go with a research paper in a history class. To be honest, if you pay full price you will be disappointed. It has relatively few features, for the money. For example, you cannot drag and drop items around, you have to move them by typing dates into a field in a “drawer” off to the side. Also, you cannot put a title on your timeline in the app, you have to export it, then import it into another app such as Pages, PhotoShop, Keynote, etc. I have had problems with print resolution doing this.

However, it will do exactly what you describe and it doesn’t take long at all to learn. The printed timelines that come directly out of the app are very good looking, if sort of simple.

There is an educators’ discount available if you email the developer and explain why you are eligible for the discount. I had a problem with my transaction (my fault) and he was very understanding and communicative.

Good luck!


Thanks everyone. I’ll check out these apps. They all look interesting…

While considerably more complicated than point and click, this web-based time line from MIT has quite a bit of flexibility. One thing that I like about it is that it needn’t be a linear scale. If you have someone’s life for example, you could put out some major milestones in their past, scattered over 50 years or whatever – but if the events of your book have an event which is crucial to them that takes place in 45 minutes, you can increase the resolution of the chart in that important area without all of the events getting smashed up together. It also supports multi-band time lines so that you can scroll one “overview” band an have it synchronise with the higher resolution band at the top.

SIMILE Timeline

Damn you AmberV! Must resist playing with simile… must resist…


Endorse what janra said!

Love you AmberV. Must resist playing with simile… must resist…



You might want to give Storylines a try. I use it for timelining stories, and it works pretty well.

For a way of keeping track of characters’ lives in general, I use genealogy software.

The application that I have is Reunion ( It has many features, which I find invaluable for novel writing, including keeping track of time-lines.

Reunion, in particular, is rather expensive for this use alone (£74), but there are other less-sophisticated shareware (and freeware) programmes that would be useful to writers.

I’d be interested to know if anyone else is using this sort of software for keeping track of his or her characters!

Regards, Leigh

As I’m pretty sure I’ve posted elsewhere, I’ve always used Tinderbox for keeping track of everything in my books. I find its free-form database and mapping features to be exceptional for this purpose. One area in which it excels is in being able to build structures before defining them. A lot of programs require you to build a structure as you enter data, or in a stricter database setting, to build the structure before you enter data. This hampers the creative process. In Tb I can lay down nebulous concepts and then weave them into a structure if necessary. As an added bonus, in the Tb File Exchange there is a template for exporting to Simile Timeline. I might have a look at that one of these days, and see if it would be a simple matter to integrate this system into my existing structures.

You’re right. This is exactly what I wanted. And you’re right about the full price. I’ll probably buy it, but at $50AUS, it’s a bit steep. I’ll happily pay that (or more) for Scrivener, but it’s (BeeDocs) hardly feature rich. However, it is easy to use and does the job, so I can’t complain (even though I just did). :wink:

The other programs suggested were excellent too. I can see that for really complex timelines they’d be the go.

Thanks everyone for the input!

bungalow1225 and Jot,

Thanks for the mention of Bee Docs’ Timeline (I’m the developer). I’m glad you like it.

I wanted to mention that I’m working on a new version which is a ground up re-design (“T2”). I’m blogging the creation of the new version, and I invite you to follow along and make suggestions. Feature related suggestions will have the most immediate effect while I’m in the design process over the next few weeks.

Here is the link to the blog:

BTW, there will likely be some kind of free upgrade path, though I haven’t worked out all the details yet.


congratulations on the software - it is so easy to use. I saw your T2 info and will be following the development with interest.


Adam, just read your blog - looks very interesting. I wonder if you might add another “persona” to your current three: what about a playwright/novelist who works in Acts/scenes/chapters? Enabling the “years” to be configurable by the user into other sorts of values would be extremely useful. I imagine it would open up a whole new market segment. Just a thought. Anyway, I will be following your development/blog with great interest. Cheers!

New to me, anyway. Have not looked/tried, but here it is:

Drag and drop sounds promising…


Definately more promising, particularly when coming to grips with the past and present timelines for characters.

Actually, anything is better than resorting to using a sketchbook and a handful of colour pencils. Particulary in the early stages when the ideas and timelines are still bendy.

Drag and drop is good, like we said…but it looks like Temporis ONLY allows click->drag to create an event on the timeline. Unless I’m missing something (went thru it once).

It would be ideal to have BOTH drag and drop event creation AND text input, like in Bee Doc’s Timeline.


What I found interesting by that is that Temporis is by the same guy that does CopyWrite - which I am a registered user of but haven’t actually used since beta2 of Scrivener.

I wonder if Excel, with which many of us are afflicted by the unpleasant necessities of life, might be pressed into service for time-lining. Keeping track of many things that occur at different points in time is one of its jobs, after all, and it’s easy enough to make graphs out of numbers even for creaking ancients like me.