TNG Timeline Events

 

Introduction

TNG’s Timeline Chart allows you to provide graphical and list views of historical events that applied during the lifetime of your ancestors.  But creating the events can be a bit of a chore.  This page contains a canned set of approximately 550 Timeline Events that can be imported to your TNG installation, together with some good practice suggestions.
 

Scope

I started developing this event set for my own Family Tree and it therefore reflects the fact that my ancestry is solidly British.  However, it includes a lot of World-Wide events that will be of interest to others.  It’s a tale that grew in the telling, and I decided to do a proper job and record events going all the way back to the Norman Conquest of Britain.  Perhaps one of you might be able to trace your lineage back that far?  Regrettably our tree hits a brick wall in 1555
 

Compatibility

Timeline Events have been in the product for a long time and, according to Darrin, the file format hasn’t changed.  However, to be safe, the installation instructions include steps to backup your existing file before you install the new.
 

What’s included

The set includes some of the following
  • British monarchs from 1066 onwards
  • Notable battles from 1066 onwards 
  • Significant Buildings from 1066 onwards
  • Significant Historical Documents, beginning with the Domesday Book
  • Other Significant Events such as the Black Death, the invention of the printing press and the “Discovery” of the Americas, the first moon landing etc
  • Social / political /economic events such as the Peasants’ revolt, the Dissolution of the Monarchies, the founding of the East India company, and the ending of slavery etc
  • Colonisation and, later, Independence
  • British Scientific endeavours
  • Developments in Agriculture and Iron making, because many of my ancestors were from the labouring classes
  • Year-by-year accounts of the First and Second World Wars, because many of my ancestors lived and died through those conflicts
  • Medical firsts
  • And a few whimsical ones
 

Preview

A complete preview of the content is available – click here to download the PDF file
 

A word about the amount of content

There are many more events than you are likely to need but I decided to include a comprehensive set – you can delete an entry you don’t want with one click.  As you progress through the centuries to the modern era the number of entries increases dramatically.  You may therefore want to carry out some heavy pruning.  There is, of course, no undo facility for individual items but you can always restore the backup file again and start over.
 

You cannot MERGE this content into your existing library

TNG does not have a merge function for the timeline events table, so this content will replace your existing library of timeline events.  I am sure it’s possible to devise an off-line merge capability, but that’s outside the scope of this article.  And it’s certainly not within my competence.
 

Feel free to edit the content

After you have installed the content you can use the Event Editor. 
 

The installation process

This is NOT a TNG Mod.  To install this content you will restore the file into your installation instead of using the  Mod Manager
 
  1. Download the Timeline Events Backup File from here
  2. In TNG Admin, got to Utilities > Tables > Backup. Restore…
  3. Select Timeline Events and back it up
  4. On your server find the file tng_timelineevents.bak and rename it (it’s located in … genealogy/backups/)
  5. Copy the downloaded file into the same directory
  6. In TNG Admin, got to Utilities > Tables > Backup. Restore…
  7. Select Timeline Events and restore it
  8. The Timeline Chart may need to some configuration changes, especially if you don’t delete any of the provided content – in TNG Admin > Setup > Chart settings > Timeline Chart you may need to increase the Chart Height.
  9. Delete the items you don’t want to bring the Timeline Chart down to a usable size when it displays against an individual

Add a Divider to the Timeline page

TNG separates events by year with a table break.  Within a given year, multiple events are indicated by a bullet point but are quite densely packed.  If you want to create some extra space between events you could edit the entries to add so paragraph breaks.  But that’s a chore, requiring you to <br><br> to the end of each enttry.  It also opens up a complete line.

Another way is to insert some CSS.  Darrin gave me a style rule, which should be added to:

  • For integrated WordPress installation – to the Additional CSS section of Appearance > Customize
  • For regular TNG installation to the mytngstyle.css file (in the css folder for the template you’re using)

/*Item separator for timeline events*/
td.databack ul li {
border-bottom: 1px solid white;
}

Depending on your template you may need to tweak the line style and colour.  Here is a sample from Template 18

Sample of how the additional event separator looks in Template 18
For my WordPress installation I found a dashed line in light grey to be effective.  It’s a matter of personal taste

 

Creating New Timeline Events

You will want to create your own timeline events.  Here are a few tips based on my experience building this list.

A) Be brief

It’s easy to get carried away and construct a lengthy description.  But if you make a habit of that, the list of events for each individual will become extremely long.  By trial and error I found that 400 characters is a useful maximum.  I occasionally exceed it if the event merits it – and compensate by making most of the rest much shorter.

B) Make Start AND End dates the exception

There are two reasons for this

Visual

Each set of start and end dates is represented by a horizontal line across an individual’s timeline, and too many are hard to differentiate from adjacent entries, sometimes have no visible label and make the display look cluttered.  Less is more:

Timeline showing start and end dates represented by horizontal lines

 

Excessive extension of an individual’s timeline

if the end of an event takes place at the beginning of a person’s timeline, then their timeline will include the whole of that period; likewise, a mirrored effect takes place if an event occurs at the end of the individual’s life.   For example, my paternal grandfather was born in 1895 and died in 1954.  Thus he has the (mis)fortune to have been born right at the end Queen Victoria’s reign and the very beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s.  Because they  are the two longest reigning Monarchs in history his timeline has been extended from Victoria’s 1837 accession to 2018 – a total of 181 years  – even though he died at the age of 59

An extended personal timeline
This has the unfortunate effect of compressing all the useful data on his timeline into an illegible block in the centre.
 
You might think that this is an extreme case – a one off.  I have 50 examples of the Victoria and Elizabeth effect in my family tree.  And it isn’t limited to them.  I was born in 1952, on the day before George VI died.  So, for the sake of 24 hours, my timeline is stretched back to his accession date in 1936
 
You can avoid this effect by only recording the Start Date.  This will remove the bar and the extended timeline but at the expense of showing which monarch reigned during an ancestor’s life, which is a shame.
 

C) Know how to use “Event Title” and “Event Detail” fields

The Event Title and Event Detail fieldsThe Event Title and Event Detail fields may cause some confusion.  You might think that the Title is required and the Detail is optional.  How could you have an Event with no title?

In fact it is the other way round – the Detail is required and the Title optional.

To understand why it’s like this you have to know how the two fields should be used.

The different uses of the Event Title and detail fields
Correct and Incorrect Uses of Event Title and Event Details

Example 1

(see numbered example)

This usage is incorrect.  It will cause the title and a near identical detail to appear in the person’s timeline.  it looks and is duplicative and causes the events list on the person’s timeline to  take up additional page length for no benefit.

Example 2

This corrects the problem.  The title has been moved to the details field in place of the previous text.  Because there is no title, the graphical timeline and the events list will use the details field instead.  Great, so why use a title at all?  That because …

Example 3

… the detail is used on the graphical timeline as a single line of text which will run off the end of the visible page.  In this case you need to use a short title, which will be used in preference to the detail.  It’s a little counter-intuitive but once you get used to it …

How to use a short title with a long description

So the rule is simple …

If the Event can be described in a few words, put them in the Details field and ignore the Title.  In all other cases, use a Title and don’t repeat the title in the details

 
 

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