The next evolutionary step for Aeon Timeline

Aeon Timeline is already the best plotting software, IMHO – way better than Plottr. It could, by adding the ability to draft a novel (or screenplay or whatever), become the best author’s software, even better than Scrivener and its wannabe competitors.

Sure, we can sync to Scrivener, which is fantastic. But imagine the market it would open up for the developer if it was perceived as a Scrivener competitor? Rearranging things, tracking things, etc. would be done in all of the views, including the writing view.

Oh, and pick a horse. Is this for historians, project managers, or novelists/screenwriters? I suggest the latter is the market this product should be disrupting. So, change the name and the marketing to let authors/screenwriters know that this is a powerful alternative to both writing apps such as Scrivener and plotting apps such as Plottr.


I agree. This software is on another level as it is, light years away from any others, and focusing it on writers would be a naturla next step, and even then it could be use by many others. It could be great to add the wriritng and text feature, considering its a minor addition that would work perfectly with the current features. To jump to events and check layers(draft, review, final, fe) of text parented to them would be awesome. And it would send Scrivener to the underwolrd of apps (even being as amazing as it is). So yeah, go for it.

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I agree with the sentiment of this thread. But not entirely. I am in agreement that Aeon Timeline is software that is particularly useful to writers. I also agree with @SCN: Aeon 3 should appeal to many more writers than it appears to. Apps like Plottr are merely pretenders to AT3’s crown. If you go on the public roadmap for Plottr and head to the Ideas section, request after request asks for features that AT3 already does, and does extremely well.

So why are these writers not using AT3? Plottr’s defined and narrow marketing focus. Everyone knows that Plottr is for plotting stories and therefore is exclusively for writers. Aeon is, in my opinion, the best story planning software out there, but it struggles to tell its own story.

This is something that I have discussed with the development team. A quick glance at the AT3 website shows data, data, data, data. Sure, stories are effectively a mix of characters, places, plot lines, beats, themes; all of which could be viewed as story data. But writers don’t think of stories in terms of data. Historians do, researchers do, lawyers probably don’t. So, back to @SCN and his question: who is the app primarily intended for? I also think the marketing for the app should focus on writers, with the other uses as an addendum to the main market. Or, perhaps, as I mentioned to the dev team, the focus should be on story.

Lawyers tell stories (what happened to whom, when and why, and what is likely to happen next as a result of that pieced together story). Historians are collecting the elements of stories that have occurred in the past, and using those elements to portray and present those stories to present and future generations. Project managers are mapping out the future of projects, which is effectively the story of what needs to happen to achieve successful targets.

So, Aeon Timeline 3 is a story telling powerhouse and needs, I think, to be marketed as such if it wants to steal the market from other, inferior apps.

But, being able to tell stories doesn’t mean that AT3 should be developed as a replacement for either Scrivener or Ulysses. I have to disagree with @Arkelao. Adding a text generation system to AT3 is far from a minor addition. Software like Scrivener and Ulysses have been developed for twenty years (in Ulysses’ case) and are best in class at what they do. The windows version of Scrivener took much longer than expected to get anywhere near the macOS version, because Scrivener for Mac and Ulysses both utilise macOS’ text generation systems. Something the devs for Scrivener Windows had to laboriously emulate in Windows. AT3 would also struggle as I don’t believe it is a macOS native app, so the devs would have to write their own text generation system and Windows’ text systems are a poor cousin of the mac’s systems.

So I think apps should do what they do best and stick with that. Scrivener and Ulysses are for writing stories and software like AT3 is for plotting and tracking stories. I do however think AT3 would benefit from a wider array of export formats centred around text. Being able to export narrative outlines and backstories in a docx and/ or markdown format and open it in Word or Google docs would bring in even more writers. This accompanied by a more focussed marketing strategy should all draw more users, however they tell their stories, to this invaluable app.

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I agree with you. This is much more a feeble dream than a true request. Aeon should focus is what it does best and even try to extend it to other sectors. Not just in the writing department but even in the dnd/rpg universe. This is an amazing tool not only for planing campaigns but as a record.

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Yes. Aeon Timeline can be used for many purposes. I’m currently building a journalling system inside it, linking journal entries written and stored in Ulysses, and then using Aeon Timeline to track the dates the entries were written, the type of journal entry (Gratitude, Reflection, Travel, Writing etc) and any subject related metadata. I also have a writing project plan stored and maintained in Aeon for online writing and all of my fiction and short stories and poems.

But my main focus in Aeon is still the planning and tracking all of the complex interactions contained in long form fiction.

I’m pleased to see the discussion continuing!

I can make AT3 work as part of my novel-writing workflow. The ability to sync to Scrivener is very helpful in that regard.

Right now, the vast majority of writers I know have never heard of Aeon Timeline, so far as I can deduce from my interactions with my peers. The idea of adding to Aeon Timeline a Scrivener-like (or Ulysses-like, though I’m not familiar with Ulysses) writing app that, rather than merely syncing, is fully integrated would be a bolt of lightning in the enormous worldwide writing community market. It would also be quite useful to historians and others, as was just pointed out (great point, that).

I don’t agree.

Aeon timeline should remain a timeline tool for both researchers and writers, but what they should do was to integrate a way to link entities to text files in a better way, with a preview pane/reader of the text files in the main entity view (inspector) and an easy way to open the file in your preferred text editor and with “hot update” of the view, so as you write and save the file, it’s content get updated in the “viewer” in AEON.
Tee best would be a form of sync to Markdown with YAML in a folder structure, much similar to the sync to Scrivener, just as MD and folders instead of the in-app structure in Scrivener.

But before they do anything like that at all, they should get the exports to some standard file formats working as it should, and they should support some commonly used usable and interchangeable file formats for their export.
As a minimum SVG and a json/xml graph format.

Or at least sit down and document their “new file format” so that it can be utilized as a interchangeable format with other types of research tools.

New user here because I’ve just started a trial of timeline for plotting and I’m impressed.

First idea: I currently use Plottr, but what really makes timeline for me is the 2-way syncing from timeline to scrivener / ulysses and back again - that really knocks plottr off the top spot. If only this brilliant feature was marketed better. It’s a massive advantage over plottr.

Second idea: “timeline” doesn’t necessarily speak to authors, whereas the idea of “plotting” does. Why not sell a slimmed down version of the software with a different name that appeals to authors?

Third idea; At the current price point it’s expensive for authors to buy, whereas Plottr is priced correctly. Reduce the feature set and reduce the price to make it attractive too.

There you go, three ideas :slight_smile:

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I agree enthusiastically with your first and second ideas.

On your third point, I can’t imagine reducing the feature set, even for a reduced price (it might be just my failure of imagination, though). I’d rather see the feature set expanded to include an integrated writing tab since otherwise we’re stuck with syncing to Scrivener/Ulysses rather than having the writing phase integrate in real-time with everything else in AT.

We can dream, can’t we? :slight_smile:

Hey Steve thanks for the reply, no worry at all, just thought I’d throw that idea in there while I was having a brain dump :slight_smile:

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Mark, I was smiling when I read your post because it was almost exactly what I have been thinking (and saying in these forums). And sure, a stripped-down “lite” version of AT marketed to authors is something that is worth some thought, I would think.


By coincidence I just posted a similar Feature Request. Specifically, I asked for a Book view that would complement Narrative and Outliner views by providing a full-page editing view where each Event is a chapter of a book. This would not be hard to implement if Book view does not sync with Scrivener. The benefit would be MASSIVE as many of you said. Suddenly Aeon Timeline is the most amazing book composition tool ever!

Would the app need a new name? Probably. But in truth it is SO much more than just a timeline already! it is the best personal relational database I have ever used. I am so blown away by it and I want it to get widespread adoption!

How do you do your planning in Aeon?

I have a story I’d like to tell. I’m thinking of blocking out events in the Narrative view, perhaps initially omitting time. The idea would be to sort of “storyboard” what I want to write as if with index cards on the wall.

Do any of you start a story plan like that?

One thing that I wish is for events to appear in more than one place in the narrative. For instance, an event that gets described from more than one point of view. I suppose a workaround would be to create a child placeholder event for each instance where it appears in the story.