Laying out your ancestors’ important events in a visual way is a great way to analyze their lives and compare them to others in your family tree.
Personally, I like using timeline software applications as a way to display these events for some branches of my family tree. If you like, it is a visual way to share important events with your own relatives about their ancestors.
I have used many different timeline tools and for me, the one that is the easiest to use and has the most flexibility for the future is Timeline JS from Northwestern University.
Most timeline software tools are either an app, a software program that you download, or a web application. These are terrific and often have a wide variety of features that Timeline JS does not have.
Why do I recommend Timeline JS? Because it is Open Source and not a proprietary program. Other timeline tools may have more features but are susceptible to the underlying software that they rely on. For example, many used to use Flash technology which created problems on smartphones. My first timeline software was proprietary. They went out of business and the software was not usable after a short time. So I had to start over.
Here is a sample from my own tree. It is fairly simple but does have text, photos and videos included. Not multi-color like many timeline “makers” but does the job. Scroll through and see its display and features.
So, is Timeline JS the coolest timeline creator out there? Nope – it is pretty basic. But it is really easy to implement and gets the job done. As stated earlier, being open-source protects it somewhat in the future.
Try it out – you might like it. If you still want something “fancy-schmancy” you won’t have invested a ton of time with Timeline JS.
And, it is FREE!
(By the way, I originally wrote this article over 7 years ago, and guess what? I’m still using Timeline JS!)