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This is my first post on this site. I have done some searching here and elsewhere and was unable to find an answer, so here goes:

I'm working on a story that exists both in real-world Earth and a separate dimension, and time elapses at a different rate in the otherworld. I'm building a timeline for both worlds in PowerPoint to track events, history, etc, and it's slow-going because it's basically a manual process in PPT, plus the space constraints of the slide fields are becoming an issue for me.

Can anyone recommend software (freeware or licensed are both fine) or other methods where it's possible to build an intuitive parallel timeline that simultaneously tracks 2 different time measurements (Earth years vs. otherworld years) that can also accommodate dozens of overlapping events in each? I've searched all standard sources and most of these programs are built to track a single timeline and not something out of the ordinary like this.

Below is a screenshot of a loose version of what I am currently doing, without the actual details of events, just placards to give you an idea.

enter image description here

Any suggestions are welcome, and if there is a different forum or subforum where this would be more appropriate, please let me know.

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  • $\begingroup$ ms paint, or like photoshop $\endgroup$ – Topcode Sep 3 '20 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ Microsoft Project, or any other such application for managing project plans? What the picture shows looks very much like two main subprojects, each with several parallel work streams. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 3 '20 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ I'm actually looking for something more intuitive and less labor-intensive than PowerPoint, although Paint and PS do both have a broader working area than PPT, thanks for the suggestion. $\endgroup$ – Eligun108 Sep 3 '20 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ Project, not PowerPoint. It's expensive; I was mentioning it as an example. You may want to try ProjectLibre, projectlibre.com, which is free and open source. Such tools allow you to describe complex timelines, with subprojects running in parallel, each with multiple workstreams composed of multiple activities. Their normal application is for planning and managing complex projects. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 3 '20 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ I second the suggestion from @AlexP for some sort of project planning/manangement system; this looks like a good match for a Gantt chart. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Zeitlin Sep 4 '20 at 11:15
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Honestly I'd do it in a spreadsheet program.

  • You can insert / delete cells to move the timing around
  • the events stay ordered through your edits
  • It's pretty easy to see what's going as the timelines tighten and loosen:

enter image description here

In my fictional future timeline "Spotted Eagle plaque wipes out farmland" occurs in real Earth in the year 2051, but in the parallel universe in the year 903.

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If you have a Surface device with pen input (or Apple equivalent), I can recommend Microsoft OneNote. With it you get

  • Functionally infinite canvas (in both directions)
  • Zoom in/zoom out rather far
  • Copy/paste/move stuff (including data from Office Suite programs natively!)
  • Drawing tools including rulers, pens, and more
  • Ability to include pictures, text, PDFs, etc
  • Sync to multiple devices
  • Night mode(!)

I use it frequently for mind mapping and other brainstorming or planning tasks along with note-taking and I'm rather happy with it. Unfortunately, if your device does not have pen input, a lot of the charm is lost, but it still can act like an infinite powerpoint slide.

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This Reminds me a lot of the timeline functionality you normally see in video editing software. Things like Final Cut, Premiere, etc.

It's might be a bit wonky, but what you could do is set your Frame Rate to 10, then you pull your project starting time back to a -1940 seconds, then your Time index should become representative of Earth and your Frame index of Other World. The neat thing is that you can make your events all text elements at different layers so as you drag the time cursor back and forth you'd be able to see everything happening in each world at that time in your preview pane.

Best part is that these programs are meant to be infinitely scalable. Sometimes you need to zoom in to see your video frame-by-frame and sometimes you need to zoom out to see a whole 2 hr movie timeline; so, you'll never run out of space to work with.

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