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Anyone else find Chronozoom 1.0 easier to digest?

Jun 9, 2013 at 2:00 AM
First, let me be clear: I love ChronoZoom. As a platform for cataloging and visualizing lots of data, it's brilliant.

However, I'm also of the opinion that ChronoZoom's new skin, or more accurately its lack of skin, detracts from the experience somewhat. Part of the problem is that the fixed background doesn't give users the same sense of scale while navigating from one event to another. But wholly separate is the fact that these events aren't easy to resolve against the black background. Hovering over each section adds some helpful color, but the overall aesthetic is (forgive me) rather dark and uninviting.

There's something to be said for a clean design, certainly, but one of the things that made the first version so engaging was the visible depth and abundance of information it contained. I miss hunting for the faint outline of an additional layer of detail to explore, and the various tree and line graphs that tied them all together.

Speaking of which, what happened to the history of metallicity, quasar formation, tree of evolution, et al? I hope these wont be relegated to galleries. Don't get me wrong, I think the galleries are a worthy addition -- I just hope they don't replace all the great stuff that fleshed out the timeline in version 1.

Anyway, I'm clearly being picky, but it's only because I care. This is a noble project, and I'm deeply grateful its authors for sharing it with everyone. Thanks again.

Jun 10, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback! My name is Roland, part of the ChronoZoom 1.0 development team.

ChronoZoom is certainty a big project, and we have a long way to go =)
Regarding the image background, I agree there is work to do in that area. One idea we had last year was to have a different background image for each of the regimes. Here is an example from a mockup done last year for when inside the Humanity section:


We did not get a chance to implement the feature, if you can help please join the effort on github!

We also agree with you that the blackness/darkness of ChronoZoom needs to go. The darkness problem is related to timelines having transparency. As you zoom in, the timelines stack up, causing the transparency to turn to black. This also explains why we cannot see the cosmos image in humanity. This year, a UI expert at Microsoft Research came up with this mockup:


More UI ideas are here in this YouTube video:

Regarding the lack of detail in the HTML5 version, we definitely want to get back to supporting all the data types we had in the first version (based on Silverlight). The reason we cannot display lots of data in the new version is due to how these two versions were built. The first version was very simple on the technology side. It was a series of giant Adobe Illustrator documents that were rasterized and stitched together. This meant anything we could draw in Adobe Illustrator, we could include in ChronoZoom.

In the HTML5 version, we have to make small visualization code for every object we want to include. So if we want to support arrows, we need to write a bit of code to do that. In Adobe Illustrator we could just draw an arrow however we wanted, with a shadow, stroke, and gradient even if wanted. The HTML5 version is much more efficient since only what is programmed as a HTML5 element is displayed rather than streaming an entire giant rasterized image.

There is a new chart feature upcoming next month that puts us on a path back to supporting more data. For next month, curve/XY line plots will be supported, such as displaying temperature over time.

For tree of life, it is a big project in itself which many other projects online are also undertaking.

I really appreciate you taking the time to write about ChronoZoom.
Since we are no longer on Codeplex, please head over to github to see the daily issues and new features:


We also have a community website, including a forum where I would love to have you post more ideas and suggestions: