The Timeline view

Modified on Thu, 02 Sep 2021 at 08:47 AM


The Timeline view was added to Omniscope Evo in September 2021. It's currently an experimental view while we gather feedback from the Visokio community, but we intend to productionise it shortly.

In this article we will provide an overview of the Timeline view.

What is the Timeline view?

The Timeline view visualises events across a horizontal or vertical line. For each event, a label is displayed showing the event name. You can configure more event information in the tooltip. 

Each record in the data is treated as an event, and Omniscope limits the maximum number of events to 300 for layout and aesthetic reasons. You should therefore only consider using the Timeline view for small datasets, or in combination with filters.

Events in the Timeline view can be displayed in two ways:

  1. When an event has an associated date then the timeline represents the span of time from the first event to the last event, and events are placed according to their position within the timeline. This is the typical use-case for the Timeline view.
  2. When an event has no associated date the timeline is divided into equal periods and events are displayed either in natural or a custom order. Although this is not the typical use-case, it can still provide an eye-catching visualisation, especially when combined with data-driven colouring/sizing of events.


In this example we are going to use the Timeline view to visualise video game console sales data. You can download this dataset as a CSV file for free from Kaggle:

Once you've downloaded the data, create a new Omniscope file, add a File block and browse to the CSV file. Now click on the Data tab to view the data:

We can see the file consists of 6 fields and 44 records. Each record represents a single video game console (Playstation-2, Game Boy, Wii etc) along with the manufacturer, release year, sales (in thousands) and console type.

Before we create our report we are going to undertake a bit of clean-up in the workflow.

Firstly, we need to convert the 'Release_Year' field from an Integer to a Date field. We need to do this so we can show the events on the date timeline.

Add a Field organiser block and connect it to the File block. Now scroll down to the 'Release_Year' field and change the type to Date. Click on the 3 dots (...) button next to the type and enter the input pattern YYYY:

For the final clean-up step we will remove the Personal Computer console row entirely (I don't consider a PC a console, but of course leave it in if you disagree!).

Add a Record Filter block, connect it to the Field Organiser and add a new rule: Field 'Console_Name' = 'Personal Computer'. Don't forget to set the block to reject this record:

Now lets create our report. Connect a new Blank report block to the Record filter, execute the workflow then click on the Report block. Once inside the report add a new Timeline View. Omniscope will automatically select an event Name and Date field, and you should see a visualisation similar to below:

Without any configuration we can clearly see each console is represented as an event on the timeline. Let's tweak the report slightly to improve our chart. 

Click on the Event options in the toolbar and change the Name field to 'Console_Name':

Now lets add some extra information to the tooltip. Expand the tooltip section and add 'Manufacturer', 'Release_Year', 'Sales' and 'Type'. We should now see all these values shown when we hover over an event:

Now lets use data driven colouring and sizing to increase the impact of the view.

Expand the Colour section and select 'Manufacturer'. Expand the Marker size section and select 'Sales'. Each event will now be coloured by the console manufacturer (eg. Sony) and the size of the marker on the timeline will represent the total sales, with bigger markers representing more sales:

Finally lets add some more interactivity to our report by adding a Filters view and allowing the report consumer to select which manufacturers they want to show on the timeline:

In the screenshot above I have selected the manufacturer Sega. We can clearly see that the Sega Genesis was the most popular console, but all the consoles released after the Genesis did not generate the same level of sales. This is why Sega stopped producing consoles after the Dreamcast and instead focused purely on Software/games. As someone who grew up during the Sega vs Nintendo battle of the 1990's, it seems strange see my son playing Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog games on his Nintendo Switch!

Earlier, when we discussed 'What is the Timeline view' it was mentioned that data can be displayed in two ways. So far we've only looked at showing data using the first method; by associating an event with a date (or in this case a year). Lets briefly look at how the data can be represented when we visualise events without a date.

Open the Event options in the toolbar and remove the Date field:

Each event is now shown as a rectangle of equal size. Events are currently ordered in natural order, in other words the order they appear in the dataset. Lets change the order so events are ordered according to Sales. 

Set the Sort field as 'Sales' and change the order to Descending:

Now lets tick Sony manufacturer in the filters view so we can compare Sony and Sega console sales together:

The above visualisation shows the Playstation 2 was the most popular console sold by either Sony or Sega (although this may have changed at the time your reading this article!). Interestingly the Playstation 3 was the worst selling console out of all of Sony's home range, due to a range of factors including the popularity of the XBox-360 and the Nintendo Wii, the high cost the famously botched launch (if you're interested you can read more about it here).

Hopefully this article has given you a taste of what you can achieve by integrating the Timeline view in your Omniscope report.

As always we would love to hear your thoughts, so please get in touch if you have any questions or feedback.

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