If you want a quick and easy way to create a timeline, there are many free online services that make it a snap. Tiki-Toki and Dipity are just two of the many options out there, but their varied features and impressive looking timelines make them a great choice for someone who is looking for a free, easy-to-use service.
Whether you want to create a timeline with details down to the minute, or you’re looking to create a timeline spanning centuries, between these two services, you can include your own media, pull in data from social media sites like Flickr and Twitter, and of course manually enter your own data.
Setting aside the fact that free accounts on Tiki-Toki do have their limitations, and the fact that the name of the service is bizarre, the easy to use interface, and professional looking final result makes Tiki-Toki a great choice for creating a timeline.
After signing up for a free account, you can create one timeline. If you wish to create more, you will have to sign up for a paid account. Creating a new timeline is done through the Admin menu. Fields you need to fill out include a title, introduction, a start and end date, and you can also include introductory and background images if you want.
To begin filling in events and details in your timeline, in the same Admin menu, click on your new timeline, select the Stories tab and click on Create new stories. Information that can be included with each story or event include a title, description, date and time, an optional category and an optional link to further information.
If you wish to categorise your events, you will have to create the categories prior to creating events. Unfortunately, you cannot leave the exact time of the event blank, which is a little bit inconvenient if you are dealing with a timeline that is more date oriented than time oriented.
To include additional media with any given event, after saving the story, select the event from the list, and click on the Story Media tab.
From there you can add images using a direct link or from Flickr as well as embed videos from sites like YouTube and Vimeo. In order to conduct a Flickr search, just click on the magnifying glass to open up the search box.
Flickr images can be searched in one of two ways. You can use Flickr usernames, so if you want to to use your own images, just upload them to Flickr. Or you can search all the images on Flickr that are under the Creative Commons license using Tiki-Toki’s inbuilt search engine.
You can add multiple images and videos to each entry, with the addition of audio files coming soon.
The final result is a slick, draggable timeline, with a calendar at the bottom.
When opening any given entry, you can read the full description, browse the images added and watch embedded videos.
While paid members can embed their timelines on their websites, with a free account, your only option is to share the link.
To sign up for a free Dipity account, you can either log in using your Facebook credentials or create a new account. The first thing you’ll be prompted to do when signing up is find other friends who have accounts on the site, as well as select other public timelines you wish to follow. Both of these steps are, of course, optional.
You can then begin to create your first timeline, by entering its name and description, uploading or linking to a thumbnail image and setting permissions, determining who can view, edit or contribute to the timeline.
There are several ways you can then begin to create events and add them to the title. You can manually create an event, adding a title, date, description, picture, link, location and video.
Alternatively you can automatically populate the timeline pulling in data from various online services. You can fetch data from your own personal accounts on sites like Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger, Pandora, Last.fm, Friendfeed, Yelp, Digg or any RSS feed you choose to include.
You can also enter data based on keyword searches on sites like Flickr, YouTube, Twitter or Google News. Unfortunately, as far as Twitter was concerned, Dipity was unable to pull in data using a hashtag search which is a feature that would be of great use.
After you’ve added all of your sources and events, you can then enter the final settings including the timezone, tags, themes, and whether or not you want to enable comments.
Once you’ve created your timeline, if you want to go back and edit, add or remove events, click on My Topics, and click on Topic Settings of the timeline. From there you can also create a new timeline.
The final timeline can be viewed in one of four ways – as a map, as a traditional timeline:
or a list:
Free accounts can create up to 3 timelines, with a maximum of 5,000 views per month when embedded, and have up to 50MB upload space. It is also worth noting that free timelines do feature Dipity branding which, while subtle, is less than ideal in a professional situation.
Image credit: Shutterstock
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