How to Create Timeline Charts On Your Website

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Web publishers often need to display data within their content in the form of timeline charts. Natively, none of the content management system supports creation of such charts. Fortunately, there are several libraries and plugins that can be used to make such timeline charts. These charts can be made both in interactive and non-interactive form. I generally prefer a JavaScript based chart library because it is not only easy-to-use but can also be used with almost any kind of website. CMS centric plugin is also a good option if you're using it for powering your site. We're going to look at some of the best timeline chart making tools that can be used by everyone having basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I've tried to include those solutions which can be integrated with any publishing platform with ease.

Timeline JS library for making timeline charts
Timeline JS - This powerful tool can help you make rich and interactive timeline charts in a few simple steps that can be embedded anywhere on the website. The chart making process is dead simple though advanced users can take advantage of the powerful customization options available through this tool. Simply copy the Google spreadsheet template offered by the service and populate it with the required data for the chart. Publish it and get the URL for the same. Provide this URL to the chart tool and you'll get the required chart code that can be embedded anywhere.

Chronoline.js library for making timeline charts
Chronoline.js - This is yet another simple yet flexible timeline creating JavaScript library that can be used to make nice, minimal and interactive timeline charts. You can easily create monthly, quarterly and yearly timeline charts through this library. Users can slide as well as hold and drag these timeline charts to easily traverse a long horizontal timeline. You can also include tool tips within the chart event points to make them more user friendly and informative. You can also easily enable zoom functionality to visualize select part of the interactive timeline in a better way.

Highcharts library for making powerful timeline charts
Highcharts - This is one of the most flexible and powerful JavaScript libraries for making different types of timeline charts. All the charts made through this library renders perfectly in almost all the popular web browsers. You can make around a dozen different types of timeline charts through this library making it ideal for every occasion. The configuration is dead simple and one can customize a new as well as already embedded chart in no time. It also supports several advanced and dynamic timeline chart features like event marker flags, tool tip labels, zooming and panning.

Vis.js plugin for making timeline charts
Vis.js - This lightweight yet extremely powerful JavaScript library is ideal making different types of timeline charts. Apart from making interactive charts, you can also make timelines with event listeners and time bars. You can also move and zoom the timeline charts freely to view the entire timeline in an easy way. Users can also apply custom styling to make the charts visually more appealing. You can also create multilingual timeline charts very easily through this library. Several premade templates ensure, you can get started with beautiful timeline charts in no time.

Dygraphs timeline charting library
dygraphs - The good thing about this timeline creation tool is that it can handle large data sets very easily. All the charts created through this library are highly interactive, by default. Each chart is completely customizable with support of perfect rendering on tablets and mobile devices. Advanced users can take advantage of its rich API to create awesome timeline charts. You can also change error bars and confidence level for each chart with huge data sets. Its extensive documentation ensures that intermediate level users can also use maximum options with ease.

Rickshaw JS library for making timeline charts
Rickshaw - And last but not the least, the following timeline plotting library gives you ample options to represent your data in a user friendly format. It supports toggle annotations that make the chart very interactive and appealing. You can also append range slider within the chart so that viewers can adjust it to view the relevant data. Needless to say, the charts created through this tool also support tool tips on mouse hover. Since the library itself is open source with MIT license, you can freely use it in your commercial projects too. It's one of my favorites timeline chart library.


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