Desktop UI Overview

This article provides an overview of the key components of our Mac/Windows interface to help you get started quickly and make the most of your time using Aeon Timeline.

Main Interface

Aeon Timeline’s interface ensures important functionality is visible and easily accessible directly from our main user interface.

Aeon Timeline’s interface is broken into the following components: 

  1. Toolbar
  2. Sidebar
  3. Left Panel
  4. Workspace (main working area, divided into multiple split views)
  5. Item Inspector
  6. Footer

We discuss each of these components in more detail below.


The main Workspace is where you view and edit most of your timeline data.

Aeon Timeline allows you to switch between multiple views within this workspace to help you capture, analyse and present your data. 

There are seven different views available in Aeon Timeline, which can be divided into three distinct groups based on the way items are ordered within the views:

  1. Chronological-order views, which display items in sequential order based on when the event occurred:
    • Timeline View: a linear, graphical view of events on a timeline;
    • Spreadsheet View: a sorted table interface for quick data entry and editing;
    • Relationship View: a grid interface showing relationships between events and entities such as People and Places;
    • Subway View: a non-linear graphical view showing events as intersecting points on a series of tracks
  2. Narrative-order views, which display items in narrative order based on the order you wish to present them:
    • Narrative View: a graphical view showing items within a hierarchical narrative structure (e.g. of chapters and scenes);
    • Outline View: a sorted table interface showing the hierarchical narrative structure
  3. Free-form views, which do not impose any order onto the display of items:
    • Mindmap View: a free-form graphical display showing the connections between items;

Each view serves a different purpose and will be relevant at different stages of your workflow, so it is likely you will change between multiple views as you work. As discussed in the next section, you can also show multiple different views at the same time.

You can read more about the difference between chronological and narrative data in Chronological vs Narrative Order.

Split Views 

The workspace can be divided into a number of Split Views, allowing you to see multiple representations of your data. Each Split View can show the same or a different view type, and a separate filter can be applied to each Split View, providing a lot of flexibility to your workflow.

Examples of how this might be used include:

  • Opening Spreadsheet View in the top half of the screen and Timeline View in the bottom half, so you can see the graphical timeline representation while taking advantage of the rapid data-entry of the table format;
  • Opening two separate Timeline Views, each with different filters, so you can compare different subsets of data.

This latter example of applying separate local filters replaces the “Group by” functionality of Aeon Timeline 2. You can read more about this in Global and Local Filtering.

The interface diagram at the top of this article shows the workspace split into two views, which can be further broken down as below:

  1. Split View Header (top split)
  2. Split View Work Area (top split)
  3. Split View Header (bottom split)
  4. Split View Work Area (bottom split)

Adjusting Split Views

Add Split View

To add a new split (either horizontally or vertically), you can click on the split icons (  and ) in the split view header, or use the Split View options under the View menu.

These options will duplicate the existing view (including view type and filter). Once duplicated, you can then modify the properties of the new view as required.

Minimise Split View You can collapse or minimise a split view so that only the header is visible by clicking on the minimise icon ( ) in the split view header.
This will temporarily hide the view from the screen to provide more room for other views.
Click the maximise icon ( ) to restore the split view.
Close Split View To permanently close a split view, click on the close icon ( ) in the split view header, or use the Split View options under the View menu.

The Focused Split View

Several user actions, including switching view types or applying filters, are designed to target only the current focused split-view. 

The focused view will usually be the last view that you interacted with, and is indicated by a vibrant blue or teal header (teal acts as a visual reminder for narrative-order views). The headers for all other non-focused views will be faded versions of their primary color.

You can give a view focus by clicking anywhere within the view, including the header. Once active, you will be able to perform the following actions that are associated with the Focused View:

  • Filter the ‘Focused View’: With the Focused View tab selected in the Filter Panel, any filter changes will only apply to the focused view.
  • Change View Type: When changing the view type via the Toolbar or View menu, the focused view will switch to the new view type.
  • Adding an Item: When adding an item to your timeline via the Sidebar or Item menu, the item will be automatically added to the focused view.In practice, this means:
    • When Timeline View has focus, the new item is given a date at the center of that view;
    • When Narrative or Outline View has focus, the new item is added into the narrative order;
    • When a Mindmap View has focus, the item is added into the current mindmap
    • As items are automatically added into the Chronological/Sequential order based on the item type, there is no change necessary when Spreadsheet, Relationship, or Subway views have focus.

Dragging Items between views

You can drag and drop items between different views. 

If you wish to add an existing item into your narrative order, for example, you can drag the item out of one of the other views and drop it into your desired position on the Narrative View. 


The toolbar is grouped into two sections:  buttons on the left side of the toolbar allow you to switch between different view types, while buttons on the right provide access to Timeline Settings and Notifications respectively. 

The view types available on the left of your Toolbar are divided into three sections:

  • The first section contains chronological-order views (Timeline, Spreadsheet View, Relationship View, Subway View)
  • The second section contains Narrative Order views (Narrative View and Outline view)
  • The final section provides access to Mindmap View, a free-form view. 

Note that if space is limited, the left toolbar buttons will collapse to show only icons, and eventually collapse into a single dropdown list instead.

The sidebar on the left of the screen provides a quick access point to create new items, and allows you to open a number of additional panels. It contains the following buttons:

Add item: create a new item or calendar marker and add it to the focused work view or matching entity list
Search Panel: open panel to search within existing items, or perform search and replace throughout the entire timeline
Filter Panel: open panel to filter items globally or within the focused workview
Sync Panel: open panel to sync your data with Scrivener or Ulysses
Constraints Panel: open panel to view violated constraints and take action to correct them
Calendar Markers Panel: open panel to view and create calendar markers
Various icons

Entity List Panel: open a panel to view a list of items of the chosen item type (e.g. People, Places, Projects)

The available icons and panels will vary based on your chosen template.

Left Panels

Clicking on most Sidebar buttons will open a panel to provide access to the selected functionality. A short summary of these panels is provided below.

Search Panel

The Search Panel allows you to search for events, people and other entities within your timeline. Any item matching the entered search term will be shown within the search panel, regardless of whether the item is currently visible within the workspace (i.e. search is unaffected by view types and filters).

You can also perform a global Search and Replace within the panel if you wish to alter text (such as a person’s name) that is referenced in many items.

Where appropriate, items from this list can be dragged into the main view (e.g. to add an item into the narrative order)

Filter Panel

The Filter Panel allows you to apply filters to reduce the number of items visible in your work views. Filters can be applied globally across all work views, or limited to the focused work view.

You can read more information about filtering in Global and Local Filters.

Sync Panel

The Sync Panel is used when syncing your timeline with a Scrivener or Ulysses writing project. When syncing is enabled, this panel shows the contents of your external writing project and allows you to sync changes made between projects.

You can read more about syncing in Syncing with Scrivener and Ulysses

Constraints Panel

The Constraints Panel allows you to view lists of violated constraints and dependencies, and provides the option to automatically resolve violated constraints.

For a detailed explanation, please read Dependencies and Constraints

Calendar Markers Panel

The Calendar Markers panel lists all of the calendar markers that are currently configured in your timeline.

Calendar markers are specific events or time periods that are shown at the top of the Timeline View header, and optionally as part of the background of the timeline view.

Depending on industry, there are many uses for calendar markers, including marking global events, key project milestones, or recurring events or anniversaries. Calendar markers give those items global prominence without cluttering the layout of the timeline itself.

You can read more about Calendar Markers in our article on Timeline View

Entity List Panel

Each Entity List shows a list of all items matching the given Item Type, and provides a means to view and access items that are otherwise not shown as distinct events or items within the other workviews.

The Entity List allows you to create, select, edit, and delete items, and organise entities into hierarchical structures.

Item Inspector

The Item Inspector is a panel that opens on the right side of the screen, and can be used to edit and view additional information and values for the selected item or items. The panel can be set to Show Upon Selection, Always Shown, or Always Hidden by clicking the inspector icon above the panel.

The top section provides quick access to edit data common across all items types, such as the label, type and color.

Below this, the inspector is divided into a number of tabs:

Position tab: Edit date and narrative positions
Dependencies and Constraints tab: Create dependencies between different items 
Relationships tab: Specify relationships to other items
Properties tab: A longer summary text, tags/keywords, and other text and numeric properties defined in the template
Attachments tab: Add images, links and other attachments to the item 

The footer contains a number of controls to change the view settings for your focused view. 

These controls vary based on the active view type. You can read more detail about the controls available for each view in the specific articles linked below: