Graphical Chronology

For communicating with your fellow chronologists with off-topic stuff.

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Tim
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Graphical Chronology

Post by Tim » Sun Aug 03, 2008 11:24 pm

I've always imagined Marvel chronology to be a web of connections, a sort of flow chart or family tree, all running parallel downwards and placed next to each other according to publishing date, with connecting lines going to different issues for character activities, storyline continuations, footnotes, and shared events. Additional notes, footnotes, retcons, mailbag additions, and unverified data can be attached to certain issues. Some series may go on a long time in parallel, only making an occasional connection. In the case of flashbacks, retcons, and newly made backstory, the issues float next to the time period of the old issue, and may have multiple branches to different issues if the issue covers several older issues. Issues with an incompatible chronology can be next to an older issue to indicate general time. related series that mention each other or share characters would stay close as a grouping of parallel lines, while series far too removed from each other can be turned off. Zooming out can show a more abstract view of each series and its connections, including major events that happen in parallel. Series that are only closely related in certain time periods can be viewable next to each other by following connection lines which bring the lines closer for close viewing. This would be cumbersome in 2D, so some sort of vector display would allow series lines to be brought closer or moved further away when needed, along with zooming in and out or dragging two series together for comparison. This might be possible in flash or a standalone program.

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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by jimmyppi » Wed Aug 06, 2008 4:37 pm

I've done a standalone program in java that can do some of the things you are describing:
http://www.chronologygraph.com/download.htm

There are also an applet available that has a limited functionality:
http://www.chronologygraph.com/graph.htm

I haven't worked on it for four years now, so I'm not sure of which versions of java it supports. The applet worked for me using version 1.5.0 of java runtime env.

Here is a screenshot:
Image

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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by Agent of Shield » Wed Aug 06, 2008 7:32 pm

For viewing the MCP in graphical-ish form, I use an Excel spreadsheet. The character names (only a few of the more popular ones) are in the cells on the top line. Below them are their chronological appearances. I line up the cells that overlap next to each other and merge them together. It makes it easy to see what appearance came before others as one large spreadsheet. There are come inconsistencies though...

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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by Russ Chappell » Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:30 am

Agent of Shield wrote:There are come inconsistencies though...
There will always be legitimate inconsistencies.

For instance, let's assume that Avengers 50 and Fantastic Four 75 take place at the same time. if Spider-Man appears in the first half of Avengers 50, and then in the second half of Fantastic Four 75, while Daredevil appears in the first half of Fantastic Four 75, followed by the second half of Avengers 50, their listings will have the order of these two books reversed.


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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by Antonio Gaviño » Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:57 pm

I use Microsoft Works Calendar, no inconsistencies, makes everything else seem so rudimentary. I shared the idea here six years ago but don't know of anybody who actually used it.

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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by TheDeuce » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:20 pm

i know nothing about Microsoft Works Calendar but i'm interested in knowing how you do this with it. more info? please and thank you!

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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by newtron » Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:02 am

i've been thinking about posting about this for the past while, and this seems like as a good a time as any. is there any interest in putting the MCP into a database, like MySQL? if all the data was in a database it would be relatively easy to create different front-ends and views for it (probably using PHP), and to give users more flexibility in how they use the site. a graphical representation is one possibility; something a little simpler would be listing appearances by issue as well as by character (e.g. all the characters that appear in FF 50).

if there's interest in this, it's something i wouldn't mind undertaking.

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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by Russ Chappell » Fri Aug 08, 2008 1:22 pm

Keep in mind here that I don't really know what I'm talking about...

I have MySQL and PHP (the forum software runs on it), but I'd be concerned that putting the Project itself into a database accessible to visitors would put a strain on the database server (read: cost me more money).
newtron wrote:something a little simpler would be listing appearances by issue as well as by character (e.g. all the characters that appear in FF 50).
As I understand what you're saying, the Search feature (available from the Home Page), already provides this functionality.

http://www.chronologygraph.com/searchth ... omic=FF+50


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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by newtron » Fri Aug 08, 2008 1:35 pm

database access and traffic are always an issue, and i suppose without knowing more about your hosting package and the kind of traffic you get, it would be hard to say for sure. that said, a database like this would be fairly small and wouldn't use a lot of resources. however, if you have a huge amount of traffic, even small resource use per visitor can get fairly big. if it's something you're interested in, though, i'd be happy to talk to you in more detailed/specific terms.

about the search feature - i forgot about that, but like i said that's just one example that quickly came to mind. off the top of my head, it could also allow things like combining character chronologies on the fly for users and perhaps allow for more integration between the main project and the calendar (which could be turned on or off, depending on the users' preferences). i'm sure there are plenty of other interesting uses that could be found too, once people get thinking about it.

anyway, i definitely don't want to pressure or anything, but i thought i'd throw it out there.
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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by Russ Chappell » Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:28 pm

I don't feel any pressure, and your suggestions are exciting. Perhaps once I start to sell off my collection, I can afford to invest in infrastructure upgrades like this. I appreciate those who can view what we have here and dream of what may be...one day.


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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by cweed4 » Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:36 pm

I don't mean to be pessimistic but I just keep thinking of Marvel's "universe connections" and how unmanageable that feature seems to be. Plus, as Administrator points out, what happens w/ all the inescapable inconsistencies. Even with Marvel attempting to maintain a solid continuity today's comics have problems. They weren't paying nearly as much attention early on.

One thing I wouldn't mind seeing in the search function is "previous" entry to go along with "next" entry. (And if those entries were clickable that wouldn't be too bad either. :wink: )

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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by Russ Chappell » Sat Aug 09, 2008 9:40 am

cweed4 wrote:One thing I wouldn't mind seeing in the search function is "previous" entry to go along with "next" entry.
Ditto. Although it may become unwieldly, for those characters who appear multiple times in one book.


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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by Ross » Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:13 pm

newtron wrote:i've been thinking about posting about this for the past while, and this seems like as a good a time as any. is there any interest in putting the MCP into a database, like MySQL? if all the data was in a database it would be relatively easy to create different front-ends and views for it (probably using PHP), and to give users more flexibility in how they use the site. a graphical representation is one possibility; something a little simpler would be listing appearances by issue as well as by character (e.g. all the characters that appear in FF 50).
I second this motion, and actually did this 4-5 years ago (good lord, it was that long?) but never took it that last 10% to have it ready for others to use. I wasn't going to mention it until it was polished and ready to go - it's basically some scripts that scrape the MCP data, stick it in MySQL, and have a simple PHP search interface on top of the data. The whole idea was to improve on the MCP's unwieldy static files - since then, Jimmy's search feature has addressed a few of the issues, but there's still room for improvement.

And with regard to site performance, I was planning to host it on my own hosting space. Regarding db strain, as long as the db is set up properly, it should be fine - I don't know the MCP's traffic numbers, but my guess is that it would be manageable (though I do see some MySQL connection errors when trying to go to this forum).

I'd like to say that I'll get around to finally finishing this mini project, but between work, grad school, and other side projects, I just know it's not going to happen anytime soon. :(

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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by Ross » Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:16 pm

Administrator wrote:Perhaps once I start to sell off my collection...
You're selling off your collection?? Two questions spring to mind:

1. Can I ask why?
2. Don't you have some amazing stuff?

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Re: Graphical Chronology

Post by newtron » Mon Aug 11, 2008 6:49 pm

Ross wrote:I second this motion, and actually did this 4-5 years ago (good lord, it was that long?) but never took it that last 10% to have it ready for others to use. I wasn't going to mention it until it was polished and ready to go - it's basically some scripts that scrape the MCP data, stick it in MySQL, and have a simple PHP search interface on top of the data. The whole idea was to improve on the MCP's unwieldy static files - since then, Jimmy's search feature has addressed a few of the issues, but there's still room for improvement.

And with regard to site performance, I was planning to host it on my own hosting space. Regarding db strain, as long as the db is set up properly, it should be fine - I don't know the MCP's traffic numbers, but my guess is that it would be manageable (though I do see some MySQL connection errors when trying to go to this forum).

I'd like to say that I'll get around to finally finishing this mini project, but between work, grad school, and other side projects, I just know it's not going to happen anytime soon. :(
would you be willing to share the scripts / database you have, ross? i am also pretty busy, but i'd definitely be interested in seeing what you've done and maybe continuing your work. i'm fairly excited about it in fact, and i'm glad to see there's support for it here.

regarding performance and stuff -- again, as ross said, it will almost certainly not be an issue, but i also have a server i can put the database on if need be. this would be transparent to users, who would still connect at the normal site.
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