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Neatline and TimeMap are basically tools that a user can create interactive time-enabled maps. Time-enabled map means a map on which you can go to different time instances on the history so that map changes accordingly. For example, it can be good for high school history classes. By using these kinds of tools, it is easier to visualize historical events. Both of them are free for personal use, which is a good thing. Although the main function of these two tools are similar, there are some slight differences in terms of their features, areas of usage, how to create maps etc.

These two tools differ in terms of their main features. Neatline is a tool that can be used to describe an historical event by using map, timeline and narratives to describe the event. On the other hand, TimeMap is a tool that can be used to visualize an historical event by using map and timeline. They basically differ in the sense that Neatline enables user to add texts to maps so that user can tell stories. On the other hand, the purpose of using TimeMap is to show only the time-enabled map not the text to describe the event. Although, it is possible to add text on the map, its purpose is not to narrate in general. Moreover, in TimeMap it is possible to have a distance legend. In that sense, it is more appropriate to use TimeMap if the distances are really important for the user.

They also differ in terms of technical details which the creator of the map should know. For example, in order to create a time-enabled narrating maps using Neatline, you first need to install Omeka, which is an open source web publishing platform. This is because Neatline is plug-in for Omeka. Once this is done, it is possible to create a map by using its user-friendly interface. On the other hand, TimeMap is a java applet. Although it is the case, it is not necessary to have any programming knowledge to create a time-enabled map on TimeMap. It has a windows tool that is called TMWin. However, it is possible to extensively customize if the user knows XML and JavaScript. Being an extensible tool is a good thing for the TimeMap.

In TimeMap, it is possible to animate the map by choosing a time interval in which the map to be animated. On the other hand, Neatline does not have such a feature. In Neatline, you need to go to a specific time instant yourself by just clicking on the specific time instant. In that sense, TimeMap is better if you want to see animated version of an event on the map.

Followings are the possible uses of the Neatline and TimeMap that can give you an idea about which one to use if you want to create your own time-enabled interactive map.

By using Neatline:

– A map of the movements of characters and concepts in The Tempest by Shakespeare

– An interactive narrative of the 1924 British Mount Everest expedition

– An in-depth look at the signatories of the Declaration of Independence

– A geographic and institutional map of 20th century literary theory

By using TimeMap:

– Mapping archaeological and heritage sites

– Mapping historical and contemporary journeys

– Showing climate data

– Displaying traffic flows

These are just just short list of examples. This list can be extended.

In order to compare these two tools, followings are the examples of the time-enabled maps created by these two tools.

An example of a time-enabled map created by Neatline
An example of a time-enabled map created by Neatline.

An example of a time-enabled map created by TimeMap
An example of a time-enabled map created by TimeMap.