Timelines - a side thought

I’m posting this in here because I know Keith’s view on timelines and Scrivener:

However, I do like the idea of timelines as a concept in writing and a thought struck me last night which I felt might be the germ of an idea. All this is purely hypothetical, just a random concept, and if I was seriously asking for it to be considered I’d have posted it in the Wishlist forum. This is not so much a timeline, as the ability to metatag your documents with time information and use that to manipulate their order.

All that defensive posturing done, here is what I came up with on the spur of the moment last night while doing some outlining. My motivation for posting is purely to ask in a wider sense if this seems vaguely sensible. Well, partly. I also wanted to share what I thought was a good idea just for the sake of it because there is no proper place to post it if I’m completely honest :slight_smile:

The document system in Scrivener is heirarchical as evidenced by the binder and the great way you can structure it to your taste. Also, you can move stuff around as you see fit.

My thought was to have an open-able different view of a variable selection of the binder contents (in a different window or pane) which is arranged in linear fashion as opposed to a tree form, is based on time and does exactly the same thing as the binder only with different controls. This window would contain 3 areas divided horizontally. A horizontal slider (scalable) in the middle area, and empty areas above and below that will be explained subsequently.

As part of the meta-data associated with any document or research item etc. you would have an optional datestamp which represented the time period that document is concerned with. This datestamp would be either a single instant in time, or a range of time with start/end timestamps.

By default, no document in the entire project has a timestamp.

The binder always takes precedence when determining the order of documents in the project overall. This is easy because you can have flashback scenes, historical or research references that apply to any period of time, but display them in any order in the binder. In other words the order of documents in the binder has nothing to do with their timestamps.

When you go to the openable window I’m talking about, however, for all documents that have a timestamp, you would get a movable pointer on the horizontal rule which you could drag left and right to alter the timestamp of that document. The areas above and below the slider would be used to display the document titles, with dotted arrows pointing to their respective sliders. You’d have as many sliders as there were documents, or perhaps you could just drag the document title itself wherever it is displayed in the areas above/below the time slider. If it was a document with a start/end range then it would allow you to drag the start and end points to manipulate that range, or perhaps there would be a ‘ghost’ marker to mark the end period.

Whatever you do in this ‘time-view’ window has no effect whatsoever on the binder ordering, it just displays the documents sorted by their time stamp if present, and if you move the sliders it automatically updates the timestamp(s) of the document to match. Documents with no time stamp would not appear on the timeline, although you could have pseudo timestamps for documents which could be ‘before the earliest timestamp’ or ‘after the latest timestamp’ which would always push these documents to one or other end of the scale.

And that’s pretty much it. Maybe a display filter to only display documents from research, manuscript or other folders in the binder, as well as a range setting to omit all documents outside a specific pair of start/end dates, but overall it’s a very straightforward concept (disclaimer: straightforward concept != straightforward code)

Meh, maybe it’s a rubbish idea, but I rather like it. Enough to share, at least. I’d use it quite a lot.