Review - BeeDocs Timeline

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This week I’m reviewing a timeline program. Now I know right now a lot of people are rolling their eyes but I love timelines. I actually get excited about them. I think I like timelines because they are visual and a lot of times you see relationships and ideas on a timeline that don’t jump out at you any other way. Until recently I always made timelines using brute force and even on occasion (Dare I say it?) graph paper and a pencil! This changed when a reader and friend turned me onto an excellent application for OS X called, Timeline published by Bee Docs.

Timeline is a simple little application that does nothing but make quick, jaw-dropping timelines. My review is of version 2.0 that just recently was released. When you first load up Timeline, it presents a simple interface that allows you to pick a theme (I like gradient style “Pleather” theme) and a data source which can be any one of several applications or your own custom data set. Setting up a new Timeline is that simple.

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Choosing the custom option allows you set up your own timeline that can cover the past 10,000 years or the past 10 minutes. Each entry is made by simply hitting the little “plus” sign and filling in your data. The data can include much more than the obligatory name and date fields. It also supports date ranges, description, photos, and links. This gives you the ability to easily create rich timelines with little work. One of my favorite parts of this is how the program makes room for every entry. Before Timeline, I always found it tedious when I decided to add an event to a timeline and ended up having to scooch everything over to to make it fit.

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As an example I prepared a timeline for a client on a dispute I’m involved with where I included images of key contracts and letters throughout a transaction. It took me all of about ten minutes to prepare and looked very professional. Even more importantly, it was critical in conveying important information. Following the meeting I emailed a PDF of the timeline (accomplished with one click in Timeline) and the client and I still refer to it in our phone conversations.

If you don’t want to make a custom data set, Timeline will pull its data out of your iLife applications as well as a few others. Timeline even found Skitch on my machine as a source of timeline data. Using the iLife integration I made a timeline of my most recently played iTunes songs, birthdays from my address book, and photos from iPhoto. I was able to incorporate photographs and links with almost no effort.

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The software developer, Adam Behringer, is a fellow Mac enthusiast with whom I’ve been trading email. Adam explained he turned software developer when Apple released OS X. He has now released version 2.0 which adds all the picture and link goodness I descried above. Adam explained the vision for Timeline has always been to create an application where the Timeline can be generated as fast as the entries are discussed and he has succeeded brilliantly.

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This application would be useful for more people than geeky lawyers though. I can see this being used in education, business, marketing, and anything else that requires either future planning or summarizing past events. You can download a trial of Timeline at www.beedocuments.com. There is also a very nice (and short) video demonstration. A full license will cost you $40. However, the developer has generously given a discount code for MacSparky readers. If you type the code MACSPARKY at checkout, you will get 15% off. This discount is good through the end of January 2008.

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You can listen to the above review on The Mac ReviewCast Episode 139.


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