Almost ready to take-off

In the previous post we presented the Timeline concept as the new approach for our project of Digital Humanities course.  We also mentioned that we took this important decision due to some important characteristics of the data we gathered with Sparql and DBpedia, such as non uniformity of the different categories.

In this new entry we will write about 3 tools that we took into consideration when we were planning how to display the different groups of people and their relationships of the Venetian Elite. In addition we will show an example of a preliminary timeline we have built, and give a short explanation of how it works.

Data classification

In the following chart we can observe the most populated categories obtained during the gathering-data phase of the project.  We still need  to classify our categories , including the ones that do not appear in the  bar chart,  depending on how relevant we think they are, and how well they will fit in our timeline.

Venetian Elites by groups
The Venetian Elite most relevant categories

 

The possibilities

While we were searching for a platform to properly build our timeline, we have encountered three main tools. First one was d3js.org  which is a JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data. There is a big set of examples at its website for constructing good interactive visuals for a variety of purposes. Unfortunate for us, timelines are not among its outstanding examples. All three examples that we could find were insufficient and too simple for our purpose. You can see one example in the following figure where historical Chinese movies are represented .

Bad Example
Example of a template of a Timeline in d3js.org

 The second tool on which we could built our timeline was Beedocs which is a software for Mac and iOs to create 3D timelines which have tremendous visualities. However, it is a paid software. Even though its free-trial time would be enough for us to develop the project on it, the project would die soon after our presentation. Therefore, we have prefered not to use this tool either in order to make our project available for future use.

And the winner is…

The last tool which could be used for constructing  a timeline was Timeline JS which is is an open-source tool that enables anyone to build visually rich, interactive, on-line timelines. While we were comparing the tools that we found, we realized that Timeline JS has what we were looking for. It was nice looking like  as Beedocs was, and available for future use by anyone like d3js was.

First of all, a timeline built on Timeline JS can easily be made available to everyone including its data file which is just a Google Docs Spreadsheet. Secondly, it doesn’t have an expiration date, so our timeline will be there for whoever needs it, whenever they need it . Lastly, it can even be copied and modified easily according to the needs of the potential users. They can make changes on a copy of the spreadsheet while experts can also use their JSON skills to create custom installations.

After deciding to make use of Timeline JS, we created a preliminary example whose screenshot you can see on the figure below. We added 20 successive Doges and 20 painters who lived during the time of these Doges. You can see that there is a different background colour for the periods ruled by different Doges :

 

Preliminary Timeline
Preliminary of the Venetian Elite Timeline

Project closure

Having chosen the tool for the data representation, the next step is to classify our categories depending on their relevance,  in order to decide which ones will take part in our timeline. The last step will be, of course, is to complete the timeline and to present it in the DH101 Demo Fair. We are looking forward to share with you all our results. Do not miss our last and final blog post!

References
  1. http://d3js.org/
  2. http://www.beedocs.com/
  3. http://timeline.knightlab.com/