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TimeFlow tutorial

TimeFlow tutorial

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Published by sarahcohen
Getting started with TimeFlow, a tool for working with timelines and chronologies in investigations.
Getting started with TimeFlow, a tool for working with timelines and chronologies in investigations.

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Published by: sarahcohen on Oct 20, 2011
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04/29/2014

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TimeFlowisatoolcreatedforreportersbyFernandaViegasandMartinWattenbergofFlowingMediaInc.thatmanageschronologiesandtimelines.Itwasenvisionedasawayto:
 
Keepnotesonlong-runningstories,suchascourtcases,bankruptciesorpoliceinvestigationsthatoftenrequireremindingreadersandviewersoftheeventssofarorthehistoryofthecase.
 
Compiledisparatematerialforprojectsinawaythatmighthelpseerelationshipsandeventsinanewlight.
 
Organizeinformationfornarrativesandreconstructionsofevents.Thekeyfeaturesincludetheabilitytozoominandoutonanyperiodoftime,tofilterandcolorcodeevents,andtoedityournotesin-placeorimportthemfromaspreadsheet.Itwon’tautomateyourdataentry,butitshouldhelpyouorganizeandvisualizethenotesyou’retakinganyway.
Gettingstarted
TakealookattheinstallationinstructionsontheTimeFlowgithubwikiathttp://wiki.github.com/FlowingMedia/TimeFlow/download-and-install-timeflow.Youcaninstallthisintoyourowndocumentsfolderorontoaflashdrive.
TheDeepwaterHorizonoilspill
TogetstartedwithTimeFlow,opentheExampledatasetcalled“DeepwaterHorizonSpill”,accessedfromthemenuunder“Examples”:
Lookingatrawdata
Beforediggingin,takealookatwhatdataisincludedinthistimeline.Choosethe“List”tabatthetopofthemainscreen:Yourlistwillbesortedchronologicallynomatterwhatordertheywereenteredin.
 
First,noticethedates.Unlikeothertools,youcanuseapproximatedatesinTimeFlow--ithandlesanddisplaysdatesenteredasyears,months,daysordateandtime.Anentrywithbothastartandenddateisshownasaspanandastartdatealoneisrepresentedastheeventdate:ThereareseveraltypesofdatainTimeFlow.Thekeyoneis,ofcourse,adate/timevaluetoplacethedataonthetimeline.A“URL”typelinkstosourcematerial;a“list”isasmallsetofvaluesthatmightapplytoasinglerecord,suchasthepeopleororganizationsinvolvedinaneventorsubjecttagsusedforcolorsandfiltering.(Detailsarecoveredinthesectionon“creatingyourowntimeline”)Youcanalsoviewdatainthetimelineitself.Anytimeyoumouseoverapoint,youseeallofthedataforthatpoint:
Gettingorientedonthetimeline
Switchbacktothetimelineviewusingthecontrolsatthetopofthescreen.Therearefoursectionstothetimelinealongwiththemainwindow:Thistimelinedefaultstotheentirespanofthedata,includingthe1990lawholdingownersresponsibleforoilspills.Thesmallsectionatthebottomisoneofseveralwaystonavigatethroughtime.Clickonayear,monthordaytozoominonthatperiod.Becausewe’relookingattheBPoilspill,thefirststepmightbetozoomin2010.Youmightwanttozoominalittlefurtherto justmonthsofApril–June2010.Youcando
 
thisthreeways:dragyourmousearoundthepointsyouwanttoseeinthelargewindow...ornarrowthebandonthesmallnavigationpaneonthebottomofthetimelinebyclickinganddraggingitsedge:Finally,youcandouble-clickinanareaofthemaintimelinewindowtozoominonthatperiod.(Itdoesn’tworkwelluntilyoustartnarrowinginonaperiodofinterest.)Youcanscrollthroughyourtimelinebydraggingtheyellowareainthenavigationpaneatthebottom.
Controlsinatimeline
Therearetwoareasofcontrolsinthetimelineview.Inone,youcontrolhowtheviewisdisplayed.Intheother,youcontrolthelabels,colorsandgroupings.Lookforthemostbasiccontrolsintheupperleftpanel.Itchangeswitheachviewofyourdata(calendar,timelineorgraph):Ifyouzoomedintoofar,youcanzoomoutalittleorallthewayusingtheZoomcontrol.Hereyoucanalsochoosehowyourtimelineisdisplayed.“Diagonal”isgoodforsmalltimelineslikethese,sinceitshowsasmuchtextaspossiblelikeasetofstairs:Forlargertimelines,thisviewsometimesmakesyouthinkapatternexistswhenitdoesn’t.Then,a“loose”viewmightbebetter:Foraverylargetimeline,youmightusethe“graph”viewtohelpyounavigatetoareaswithalotofentries.Thelowerleftsectionofthecontrolsstaythesamenomatterwhatviewyouhaveofyourdata:

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