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OKFN TimeMapper

TimeMapper creates timelines from Google Spreadsheets. It combines time and date information with spatial information to create a fully interactive and data driven exhibition. Note: To take advantage of TimeMapper’s mapping requires some understanding of geocoding.


  1. a Google Drive account;
  2. Data.


  1. Proper Data Structure
  2. Appropriate Sharing parameters in Google Drive
  3. Geoparsed locations for your items
  4. Linking to additional platforms to add descriptive depth

A TimeMapper Tutorial

  1. Collect your Data – You need at minimum a start date, a title and a description. If you would like to partake of a pre-populated dataset, choose the Medieval Philosophers one shared by Rufus Pollock developer of TimeMapper. If you would like to see the finished product it is shared at Medieval Philosophers TimeMap.
  2. Create a Google Spreadsheet – The easiest way to start and ensure that you conform to the required column headings is to copy the TimeMapper template and insert your own data.
  3. Publish the spreadsheet – From the File menu, select “Publish to the Web”, and press “Start publishing”. Important: close the publishing window, click Share, and copy the “Link to share” box. It is advisable to actually use the Google Docs Choose button in TimeMapper to select the published sheet.


4. Configure the TimeMap –    … Indicate whether you intend to combine spatial information with temporal data or just create a timeline or a map. Give your creation a title and suggest how you would generally construct you date fields as well as how you would like to see the timeline positioned.


5. Publish the TimeMapper – Paste the URL into the TimeMapper “create” page and click Publish. You will be redirected to your newly created timemap, where you will be able to click Embed to get HTML code that you can insert into your own websites.

Note: To take advantage of TimeMapper’s mapping feature, you need to add geographical information to your data in the Location column. Two types of geodata are supported: latitude-longitude coordinates and GeoJSON objects.

Coordinates must be in the format lat, long (e.g. 37.5, -122). If you have a smaller dataset you might choose to do this manually and sites as simple as or can provide you with these.

When you move into working with larger sets of ungeoparsed data,  you might take advantage of the spreadsheet template includes a formula which automatically looks up coordinates corresponding to human-readable place names in the Place column. You can find out more about this formula at School of Data blog post.

As you get more adventursome you may want to move beyond geospatial primitives such as a the standard point and into areas and ways. this blog post from the School of Data explains how you can use GeoJSON feature objects. For an example of how to generate GeoJSON objects, see this blog post on adding GeoJSON country boundaries to Google spreadsheets.