Best Paper Award

TimeSplines: Sketch-based Authoring of Flexible and Idiosyncratic Timelines

Anna Offenwanger, Matthew Brehmer, Fanny Chevalier, Theophanis Tsandilas

Room: Plenary-1

2023-10-24T04:40:00ZGMT-0600Change your timezone on the schedule page
Exemplar figure, described by caption below
The TimeSplines interface. Left: The canvas on which the idiosyncratic timelines are created and manipulated. Right: The data drawer which contains multiple heterogeneous datasets.
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Temporal Data, interaction design, communication / presentation, storytelling, sketch-based interface, lazy data binding


Timelines are essential for visually communicating chronological narratives and reflecting on the personal and cultural significance of historical events. Existing visualization tools tend to support conventional linear representations, but fail to capture personal idiosyncratic conceptualizations of time. In response, we built TimeSplines, a visualization authoring tool that allows people to sketch multiple free-form temporal axes and populate them with heterogeneous, time-oriented data via incremental and lazy data binding. Authors can bend, compress, and expand temporal axes to emphasize or de-emphasize intervals based on their personal importance; they can also annotate the axes with text and figurative elements to convey contextual information. The results of two user studies show how people appropriate the concepts in TimeSplines to express their own conceptualization of time, while our curated gallery of images demonstrates the expressive potential of our approach.