Changes in Version 2.3 to support iPad
Corresponding with the launch of our iPad app, Aeon Timeline 2.3 on Desktop contains a number of file changes required to support sharing timelines with the new tablet environment.
New File Format
Aeon Timeline 2.3 uses a brand new file format. The old XML file format with extension .aeon2 has been replaced with a new file format with the extension .aeonzip.
The main driver for this change is the need to support portability of images and attachments across devices. Specifically, the new file format is able to import and store images and attachments along with the timeline data itself, meaning your linked items can now go with you wherever the file goes.
Images and Attachments
In addition to the old External Links, Aeon Timeline now also supports event Attachments, and moves the event Image into a separate property rather than simply displaying the first image link.
This means you now have three options when you want your events connected with additional files:
Attachment: If you have a local file and want it included inside your timeline file wherever it goes, choose to add it as an Attachment. As with the image above, this will again increase the size of your file, but will make the image available on all devices including iOS without needing it to be in a specific location in the file system.
Link: If you want to link to a local file on your file system without importing the file into your timeline, add it as a Link. This is the same External Links that existed before version 2.2.
As external links do not make a copy of the file, this is the best choice if your file will be updated regularly and you wan to make sure events are linked to the most up-to-date version. This is also the option you should choose if you want to link to a website, or any other content accessible via a web link.
Entity Type and Role Icons
Entity type icons are an integral part of the iOS interface rather than the small afterthought they are in the Desktop version.
As a result, a new set of type icons have been specifically created for our iPad release and Desktop 2.3 upgrade to replace the generic set of icons used previously. The range of available icons has reduced, but they are a cleaner design that better suits the look and feel of the application.
The role icons that are used in Relationship View have also been overhauled. The new set of icons provide much faster rendering performance compared with the old ones, which is important on performance-limited devices such as iPads. The new role icons include the option of using the first initial of a role name in the icon, which can provide a clean and easily recognisable option.
The iPad app has its own newly designed themes, which are set at a system-wide level rather than per-timeline file like they are on the Desktop. As a result, it is important that the timeline files have colors that will work against any theme, as you do not know what theme will be used to view the timeline on an iOS device.
As a result, we have introduced a new color palette that will be used across all timelines. This color palette is more limited than the previous Desktop option (where you could choose any color with a color picker). By limiting the palette to this smaller set, we can not only ensure events will be visible anywhere, but we can create minor tweaks to the palette to suit different themes.
Notifications and Reminders
A notifications window has been created, which allows you to create a list of reminders that you are able to refer to when working on your timeline.
You can access these by opening the notifications window, which can be accessed by the symbol on the toolbar.
This will also provide you with a list of helpful suggestions on the best way to get started when using Aeon Timeline for the first time.
Updating to the new file format
When you open an old .aeon2 file with Aeon Timeline version 2.3 or above, a prompt will tell you that your file format is being updated. When this occurs, several changes will be made:
- All local external links (i.e. accessed via a file system rather than a web link) that were previously used as an event's image will be converted to attached images inside the timeline file.
Note: in version 2.3.8+, you will be given the choice of whether to import local images or leave them as external links instead.
- Icons selected for entity types and roles will be updated to newer iOS friendly versions. The upgrade will try to match existing icons where it can, and fall back to sensible defaults otherwise. If you do not like the default matches, you can change them via Timeline Settings.
- Colors in your timeline will be updated to a new set of colours designed to work across all of our Desktop and iOS themes. The upgrade will try to use similar colours to your existing selection where it can. If you do not like the default matches, you can change them via Timeline Settings.
Only local image links will be imported into the new file by default. If you want to go further, two new items have been added under the File menu:
- Convert local image links to inline attachments: As of 2.3.8+, this option will convert external links to local image files to attached images instead. This is the manual version of the automatic prompt mentioned in step 1. Your timeline file size will grow by the size of the attachments, so you may not want to do this for very large attachments such as videos. Any links that cannot be resolved (i.e. the file cannot be found) will not be touched.
- Convert all local links to attachments: This will add all locally linked files as attachments and remove the original links. Your timeline file size will grow by the size of the attachments, so you may not want to do this for very large attachments such as videos. Any links that cannot be resolved (i.e. the file cannot be found) will not be touched.
- Download and attach remotely linked images: This will download any remotely linked image files and set them as the event image. If you have been using web-hosted images in your timeline, you will need to do this to continue to show the images within your timeline itself.
Your updated timeline file will save with the same name as the original file, but with the new .aeonzip extension.