This morning I went looking for good timeline creation software, of possible use to a British academic. This was what I found…

The Microsoft Office .xls add-on or Word .doc template will serve most simple needs; whereas the SIMILE Timeline from MIT offers a more complex and elegant Open Source solution – but only for those not afraid to hand edit XML files and wrestle with cross-browser compatability. There is also a WordPress plugin to integrate SIMILE Timelines into your weblog.

At some point between the above two options is the script-based Wiki plugin EasyTimeline which seems very flexible.

In terms of dedicated commercial software, Timeline Maker looks good, as does the OpenMind 2 timeline module. There’s also the free Java-based Timeline Creator, although the output seems rather ugly and clunky.

There are also several new online timeline creation and hosting services, ranging from the useful and firm-feeling Rememble, to the unappealing timelines-for-the-terminally-dim AOL service CircaVie. There’s also the rather nice China-based xTimeline, which appears to offer a user-friendly front end into a version of MIT’s SIMILE Timeline (see above). I’m not sure how happy I’d be to know that the only place that’s hosting my xTimeline is in China, though.

Doubless we’ll soon have a free Google Timelines or Google Timerail or somesuch, but until then, one of the above options may be useful to academics.