Good timeline programs can be invaluable to visualizing the flow of historical events and make connections that may otherwise remain invisible. While pen and paper remain my favorite means for timeline creation, there are a lot of advantages to digitally created timelines. In this post I will be discussing two such programs: Aeon Timeline and Preceden. While both have functionality suited to project management, and more, I will be focusing on how I more commonly interact with these programs, i.e. the creation of visual displays of historical chronologies.

Aeon Timeline

Aeon Timeline is a downloadable application for Mac, Windows, and iOS. A nice feature is that this program is not paid for on a subscription basis, but allows lifetime access to that version of Aeon. I have been using Aeon Timeline since its first version around ten years ago. Below is a gallery of a handful of timelines I created with Aeon dating back to 2012.


Currently, in 2022, Aeon is in its third version, and as such has become more functional for a variety of timeline types. One of its newer features is the ability to view and import data in spreadsheet form.

In Aeon, different types of information can be added, events, and those can be grouped into different arcs, and entities, which may include people or organizations, and with the handy “Relationship View” it is easy to see where the entities and events intersect. Below is an example showing English Renaissance playwright “entities” and the “events” of their play publications in relationship view, which even displays the age of the playwright at the publication of each play with which they are associated.


With so many functions to toggle, customize, and organize, Aeon can take some practice to know how to use effectively, but overall is a useful aid in organizing chronological data.


Preceden (formerly TimeRime)

Preceden is a web-based program, and as such does not require the download of an application. Account set-up is simple, as is entering data into your timeline. The user interface is more streamlined and intuitive than Aeon, while still having a good deal of complex functionality. There is a free option that limits you to 10 entries per timeline – for unlimited access there are subscription options.

Events can be assigned to different “Layers” if, as in my example, you wanted to view the lifetimes of important people separately from notable writings, in the same way Aeon uses “Arcs.”





Events can have designated dates or dates relative to other events, as shown left, and can even be marked as approximate, which tells the program to blur the endpoints to make this distinction visible (at least as long as the event’s duration bar is long enough for the blurring to be discernible- note the difference in the above sample between the clear blurring of end-dates for Pseudo-Chrysostom and the less obvious blurring for the Life and Miracles). 

It isn’t straightforward how to enter dates prior to 100 BCE. In this example, I had trouble getting the dates for Thecla entered due to the program’s assumption that the year 30 meant 1930 and was therefore after the approximated death date of 120. While entering it as 030 or 0030 did not work, adding AD after did the trick. (Another difficulty is the dates are given using the BC/AD time scale, seemingly without the option of switching to BCE/CE, or of using different calendar dating systems, among their date formatting options – there may be a work-around, but I’ve yet to find it.) 

The strength of Preceden is in its ease of use and variety of templates and themes to easily customize the appearance of your timeline or have your pick of professional templates.


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