Birth and Death Events

Just wondering what’s the most efficient way of turning a birth or a death into an event in Aeon Timeline 3?

You can use the Constraints system to do this, although there are currently limitations with this.
You can add an event to the timeline and then add a Constraint (via the Constraints Tab ->Date Constraints) that says this event’s Start equals the start of your character. This will move the event to the birth of that character.
You can do the same thing for their death date.
Please note that however currently the automatic resolution of date constraints only adjusts end date of an event, not the duration. So if you wanted to move your death event earlier, and have that adjusted in the shortened life of the character automatically, this would not happen (it would instead move the start date). We are looking at ways to improve this currently.

1 Like

Thank you, so checking I understand that correctly… If I want a character’s birth or death to be an event, I create the character, determine their lifespan then go back in and manually add the event myself because there’s no button such as ‘Turn birth into event on timeline’ or anything like that.

In that case, I wouldn’t need to muck around with constraints at all, would I? Unless I was worried about accidentally creating an event and adding a character who was either not born yet or already dead?

Yes that is correct there is no button that adds an event automatically from a character’s birth or death date. So you can just add the event manually, the only reason to use the constraints would be potentially if you were going to be changing the birth/death date as you write the story and want some notification of that (as otherwise you would have to manually remember to change both values) I forgot to link to this help page: Linking a character's birth or death with an event - Aeon Timeline 3 Knowledge Base which explains the constraints setup as I mentioned earlier.
You also can display your characters on the timeline like an event, which shows their lifespan (I don’t know if this would be helpful to you). If you open the Settings Window (the cog icon), then Data Types tab, then Edit in the top right, you will open Advanced Settings. Select Character from the list on the left, and tick the option “Timeline View” under the heading “Show In”. This will then display your character on the timeline if they have been given birth/death dates.

1 Like

Just so I understand, am I correct that the duration of life from birth to death (or with locations creation to destruction) does not calculate like it did in Aeon 2?

The actual calculation of the duration for the entity should be the same (eg. if it has the same birth/death dates then it should give the same duration). However in Aeon Timeline 2 you could either add a set date for the character’s birth/death or link them to events. In Aeon Timeline 3, you can add the set date, but you can only link them to events based on the constraint system, and this is not currently set up to cover all cases (eg. the duration would not be automatically adjusted on moving the end death date).
Characters and other entities with dates in Aeon Timeline 3 can also be displayed on the timeline similar to events (eg. showing the lifespan of a person), which wasn’t available in Aeon Timeline 2.

That helps a ton. Thanks. Yeah, I wasn’t able to get it to do the automatic calculation for duration that Aeon 2 did and I thought it was just me. But it’s not a huge deal. The other features of Aeon 3 are exceptional.


I have to admit this constraint system is very confusing to me. I assume there’s a reason the simpler approach in Aeon 2 was abandoned in terms of attaching a character’s birth and death to an event, but the current approach is very counterintuitive. As it stands, I can’t “constrain” a character’s birth and death to two different events, and the knowledgebase doesn’t provide any illumination.

For example, I had a working timeline from v2. In that timeline, I had a character “Harry” and two events, “Harry’s birthday” and “Harry’s death.” I linked those two events to the birth and death fields respectively, and all was well. Very easy. In that v2 timeline, I was able to do that sort of thing with several character, always without a hitch.

After updating to v3 and importing my timeline, the “Harry” character entry had two constraints:

  • Start equals start of Harry’s birthday

  • End equals start of Harry’s death

That language is a little convoluted, but I could see the logic. (For example, Harry didn’t die at the “start of” the “Harry’s death” event, but the end of it, but this is a minor point, though I’m afraid to change the logic in the imported constraint, because see below.) Harry still has a birth and death linked, and the dates are right.

So in v3, I create a new character, “Clifford.” At first, I simply enter a birth date for him, since he’s a secondary character and his date of birth doesn’t have plot significance, but I do want to keep track of how old he is at various points so it’s useful to have a date set. I don’t set a death date because, at first, I have no plans to kill him off. But as the plot develops, I realize there’s an event at which, oops, Clifford does in fact die. Based on that, I try to link that event to his death.

In Aeon 2, this was very easy. In v3, well, I still haven’t succeeded.

Based on the explanation linked above, which covers birth only, and on the way Harry’s character constraints appear as imported from v2, I inferred that for Clifford I should add a constraint to the event in which Clifford dies thusly:

  • End > equals start of > (Character Item) Clifford

My instinct is for it to actually be End > equals end of > (Character Item) Clifford, since the event itself ends with his death, but for now I’m sticking with the same construction as I saw in the imported Harry Character Item.

The problem is when I add this constraint to the Clifford event, I get the message “1 item was moved due to constraints”, and the event, it turns out, now has the Clifford birth date from his Character Item entry.

I’ve tried different variations, and also tried going the other direction and adding a constraint to Clifford’s character entry instead of through the event entry. I get different results, or sometimes the same result, but the one thing I don’t get is a result in which Clifford’s death and the date of the event are what I want it to be.

What I’ve done, ultimately, is just manually add his death to his character item, incidental to the event item. I would like to be able to link it to the event, especially since I’m still tinkering with the plot and so the exact time, and events before and after, are subject to change. But I can’t see my way around this convoluted system.

I don’t understand why you chose to abandon a simple process (v2) for a complex one (v3), and wonder if you considered the impact on the user in doing so. I’m not suggesting the constraint system doesn’t have utility, but it feels like you’re imposing a programming framework on a process that’s epistemologically very different. The drama of “holy cow, I just realized this is when Clifford dies” gets lost in trying to work out (ultimately without success) the elements of a constraint when what I really should be able to do is click Death on a character’s entry and choose the appropriate event without worrying about programming logic.

The constraints and dependencies system was updated in the new version as the older one (in version 2) was not flexible enough for a large number of users.
Characters and other entities were also promoted to be item types on par with events, so that they can also contain properties and be displayed on the timeline. It made things simpler for users who were creating life-span events and linking characters to the start and end of the event - instead the character’s just have a birth and death date, which can be displayed on the timeline like an event.
However we are aware that this has caused some issues for people who want to have separate events for birth/death dates for characters, but linked to the character entity. Currently the constraints system does not automatically adjust duration, and therefore trying to tie someone’s death date to an event is not going to work for some people. This was done particularly because timelines involved in project management typically do not want durations adjusted, however we do currently have plans to look at ways to change this, so that other cases can be covered (as there are a few people who have set up this system of wanting to die death dates to specific events).

In regards to your specific situation, you are correct that the constraint should be End equals the end of Clifford. I’m not sure why your Harry character was imported as end equals start of Harry’s death event, if your version 2 was set up for end = end of Harry’s death date, then there may be a buy in importing this information over. However as mentioned above tying a death date to an event will possibly not work for you, if you are expecting the duration to move with it (eg. if when you move his death event, you want his birth event stays the same and he just dies at a different age).

Given my struggles with this version of Aeon, I’m beginning to suspect I’m not among the users for whom this new system was designed. Version 2 met my needs, so I will probably return to it for future projects. I don’t know if the file format is backward compatible (I suspect not), but my current novel is almost done so I can manage in the present version for a few more weeks.

I’m just starting (literally today). I think I understand this thread but it leaves me with this question:

How do I show the end of the relationship? E.g. a character’s wife died a while back. I’ve got her birth and death dates entered and the date of their marriage. I don’t see any option for ex-spouse or any way to add that kind of relationship to the relationship options.

You can add new relationships to a template via Advanced Settings (Advanced Settings - Aeon Timeline 3 Knowledge Base), however relationship’s themselves don’t have start/end dates. So you could have your character and their wife have both the relationship “spouse” and “ex-spouse”, but there wouldn’t be anything that mentions dates for when this relationship changed.

1 Like

After all this time, I decided to tackle this again, mostly because I didn’t want to go to the trouble of rebuilding a huge timeline in Aeon 2. I finally figured out the logic, at least partly. But it’s still counterintuitive, and, uh, possibly broken.

What I learned is no matter what I do, I cannot link a character’s birth and death to events. I can link one or the other, but never both. And once I constrain a character’s start or end or an event, both birth and death are fixed to that event.

For example, I created two events, “Laurence’s Birth” (Sat 16 Mar 1901) and" Laurence’s Death" (Start: Mon 14 Sep 1942 21:30, End: Mon 14 Sep 1942 21:35), and a character, “Laurence”. At this point, the events have fixed dates, but Laurence is just a character with no settings.

Then I selected “Laurence’s Birth” event and added the constraint: Start > equals start of > Laurence (character item). There was a notification that “1 item was moved because of constraints,” but my event dates were unaffected. I presume the item “moved” was the Laurence character item, because it now showed a birth date that matched the Laurence’s Birth date (Sat 16 Mar 1901). So far, so good. It also showed his death as Sat 16 Mar 1901, whereas before I created the constraint his death had been None.

Next, I selected “Laurence’s Death” event and added the constraint: End > equals end of > Laurence (character item), following the logic described in the discussion earlier in this thread. Again, I got the “1 item was moved because of constraints” message. This time, the date for the Laurence’s Death event jumped from 1942 to 1901, his birth year, though it kept its five minute duration (going from 23:55 to 24:00 of that day.) The death event actually appears above the birth event in spreadsheet view, though I think that’s because it has more details, time and date, while the birth only has a date.

I hit Undo, and tried different variations on End constraints on the Laurence’s Death event, but I was never able to attach Laurence’s death to an event without the event changing to match his birth date—though it appeared before or after the birth event based on the equals/is setting.

Then I retreated to no constraints, no settings for the Laurence character. This time, I did the same thing with the death event, and managed to link Laurence’s death date to the event. As with the birth event constraint attempt, both of his dates were set the same.

For my story, the death is the plot point, so then I thought I’d manually set his birth date in the Character birth field, but when I do, his death date changes to match it, and his death event gets updated to match as well.

What this appears to mean is while I can link either birth or death to an event, I can’t link each to separate events. Further, I can’t manually set the unlinked date. Characters, once one of their dates is linked to an event, exist for an infinitesimal length of time. The Planck time length, I suppose.

In one sense, I suppose this sorta works—if tracking a character’s birth or death is critical in relation to other events, changing the character field date when an event is adjusted is probably helpful. But if I want to track their age, I’m stuck with doing the math. Or, alternatively, I can enter each date manually so their ages show up on events where their status is set. But if I change their birth or death event, I have to go in and manually change the dates in their character settings as well.

Maybe I’m doing something wrong. Frankly, I hope I’m doing something wrong. Because as it stands, this just doesn’t seem to work.

You are correct in that there currently isn’t a way to link both start and end dates of a character to birth and death events on the timeline, and have them work the way that you are after.

This is because the app makes the assumption when adjusting dates that the duration is to be kept the same. This is because in certain contexts (such as project management), the duration of an event (or task) is a set value that shouldn’t be change when trying to rearrange start and end times.

This can be true with fiction writing aswell. If someone is adjusting the death event of a character, then it could mean they want their death to occur earlier, but they want their age to remain the same. Or it could mean that adjusting their death date means that they want to adjust their age (which sounds like what you are after).

We realise that there are many users who are after the latter, so it is on our list of features to implement, however it will involve quite a lot of complex work and needs to be weighed up against our other feature requests.

If you want to link your character’s start and end dates to events on the timeline, then when you do this, you should do all adjustments of these dates via the character’s inspector, not by moving the events on the timeline. If you move the death date of the character itself, then the duration will be adjusted, and the “death” event will move on the timeline. However just moving the death event on the timeline will mean that the start date will move aswell and the duration will remain the same.

One thing that you mentioned, was if you are only linking one of the events (eg. start date to birth event), then you can’t manually change the other date (eg. the end date of the character). This shouldn’t be true, if you only have a constraint on one of them, the other one should be able to be adjusted manually. If this isn’t true for you, then this part may be a bug. If you could send through your timeline to, we can look into what the issue is.