Given there has recently (and rightly) been some angst about the future of Aeon Timeline given the long lead time to this release, I thought it would be a good idea to outline the next steps in the development plan.
Version 0.50 has just been released, which includes the long anticipated Fantasy Calendars, as well as a reworking of the interface to provide what is hopefully a slicker and cleaner user experience.
I am sure there will be several bugs that need to be fixed when people start using this version, and fixing those will obviously be a priority.
Beyond that, most development for the next while will primarily focused on cleaning up existing features, and make navigation around the timeline easier. With this in mind, here is a vaguely ordered list of the tasks I will be working on next:
- Improve the newly added Context Bar to work as a scroll bar for the main view (it will use grab-scrolling, to drag parts of the timeline into the view finder.
- Include event locations in the Context Bar. These will be small dots at the appropriate place in the timeline, colour coded according to the event colour. The y position on the view will reflect the Story Arc.
- When zooming out, if too many events are located in the one spot (making an awful, cluttered display), these will be hidden and replaced with an indicator of the number of events in the area. Putting the mouse over that area and zooming in will then reveal all of those events.
- In addition to this, I will add the ability to name particular periods of time and associated particular events with that time period. When zooming out, if events have to be hidden in a named period, it will include that name in the marker: eg. “World War 2 (30 events)”. The focus here will be to find a simple, minimalist way to mark up these time periods.
- Improve Filtering in Header Bar. I am going to replace the ‘Hot Tags’ bar with something that will allow filtering based on Tags, Entities, and Story Arcs in a single interface.
- Other more minor improvements to aid keyboard navigation, bulk change labels, ordering Story Arcs etc.
At this point, I think it is important to bring the finish line is in sight, and that is my intention with the list above – to take the application towards a more polished, production-ready application. Once this work has been done, I will take steps towards making this a commercially available 1.0 release.
As always, I remain open to good ideas to improve Aeon further and encourage people to provide further ideas, but unless there is a particularly striking idea that will fit very well with the application as-is and be simple to implement, I probably won’t look to implement it until after a 1.0 release has been made.
Finally, to address concerns regarding the slow progress in the past year. For a variety of reasons, including my personal circumstances and my existing job (I have been leading a major project), the time I could dedicate to Aeon was greatly reduced in the past year, and the first thing to suffer was my attentiveness in the forums. To those who were put off by my absence, I am sorry. With the limited time I had, I chose to dedicate that to the development effort required to produce Version 0.5. Hopefully (assuming any early bugs are ironed out) you will agree it was an effort worth making.
It has always been my intention to complete Aeon, and that intention did not disappear at any time in the last year. I should have communicated that better.
Given the past, I will not make any predictions about an eventual release date for the software, but I expect each of the development efforts listed above will be measured in weeks or months rather than longer.
This 0.5 release has an expiry set to September of this year. Given its somewhat Alpha status, I did not want to make it longer, but once all the bugs are squashed, I will put a much longer expiry (more than a year) onto the next one to ensure that people’s work is not interrupted.
Thanks for your patience thus far. I am greatly interested in any feedback on the new release and the development plan listed above.