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R, Spip et autres

How to automatically generate timelines that can be split between several pages

I recently wanted to create a PDF timeline that could be automatically split between several A4 pages for later cutting and pasting. After a bit of LaTeX and Ruby I finally came out with a little timeline-generator script :

http://github.com/juba/timeline-generator

The principle is quite simple : you specify several parameters in a config file such as the start and end dates, the number of A4 sheets, the sheets orientation, etc., and the script generates two PDF files : one with your timeline on one big page, and another with the same timeline split between the given number of A4 pages. To make cut-and-pasting easier, the second file includes crop marks and a small overlapping between pages.

To take a look at what the generated files look like :

The title, months names and number formatting are in french, but english is also supported.

Optionally, a calendar scale (days and months of year) and a time of day scale (hours and minutes) can be added at the bottom of the timeline. The idea is to allow some comparisons such as «if the 0 to 2010 timeline was a day, the World War II would have taken place between 23h09 and 23h14. If it was a year, it would have happened between December 18th and December 20th».

If you have access to a functional installation of Ruby and PDFLaTeX, the script should be quite easy to use. Everything is explained in the README file on GitHub.

But if you are interested by this type of timeline, don’t hesitate to drop me a mail or a comment with the main parameters (start and end date, number of sheets…), and I’ll generate and send you back the PDF files.