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A New Timeline



One of the features coming around the bend in IDV Solutions‘ VFX4.5 is the…Timeline!  The Timeline has been a lot of fun to work on and has not only turned out to be an outstanding contextualizer when partnered with the map and other visualizations, but it is also robust enough to stand alone as a pillar visualization.

Navigating the Timeline is as smooth and intuitive an experience as we can manage –and takes it cues from map navigation best practices to leverage the expertise of even novice web users; zoom in and out and pan back and forward through time.  If only 9th grade could have whooshed by as quickly.

Data is dropped off right when it happened –whether it was a blip in time or a range in time.  As I zoom in, the time buckets expand and break out into finer and finer detail, or I can zoom out and start lumping them together (seconds, hours, days, months, years…).  It is agonizingly flexible.

Here, I have pulled in historic Atlantic hurricane data, including the hurricane time range (those spans at the bottom) and individual advisories.


How does it look?  There is a layout framework that consists of the stuff happens here panel where I see and interact with all the time data stacked up right when it belongs, a time machine panel that I can use to zip broadly through time or set very precise bounds, and a now button that can rocket me back to the present.

When I combine these visualization methods, the data really starts to go nuts.

Visualization Combinations

Arrrrgh!  Ok, now that I’ve scratched that itch, here is space/time visualization of incidents of piracy over the last 30 years.  Lets dive in for a closer look…

Global reports of "anti shipping activity" (piracy) in my lifetime.

We’ve all heard about the problem with piracy around east Africa lately.  Here is a timeline of that area over the past nine years. July, 2008 marks a stratospheric rise in reported events.  Check out the boatloads of events crammed into those columns.  Is it a factor of more vigilant reporting? A marked increase in regional political instability?  A shift in response policies of shipping conglomerates?  All of these things?  By the way, for some more info on the also new heatmapping feature you see here, check out some previous blog posts.

Piracy in the Gulf of Aden since 2000.


The Pirates of the Caribbean are, at least, a consistent crew (also, by the way, much more grisly, having flipped through some of the descriptions).  They have their market ups and downs but nothing like the spike around Somalia (but decidedly more treacherous than the Mediterranean).

Piracy around the Caribbean of Aden since 2000.


And, as I heard Amy Lobben say, the absence of data is data -not a lot of rogue activity in the Mediterranean in recent years.  A relatively hefty month like July of 2000 is a trip to the spa compared to other regions.

Piracy?  What piracy?


Don’t need the full-blown timeline but still wish to do some time-based filtering here and there?  No problem.  You can inject a nanobot version of the timeline at the individual feed level to either restrict results to a time range…

Only Hurricanes from the 2008 season will be requested of this feed.


…or pull in archived data from a specific time in the past (or future, if you have that data, but wow that’s pretty proactive).

Sales territories will be color coded according to values circa 4/1/2009.


John Nelson / IDV Solutions / john.nelson@idvsolutions.com


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