Technovangelist


Adding a Simile Timeline to Community Server

Posted on December 11, 2007

In case you have visited this site recently, you may have noticed the cool timeline in the Blog Archives page. This is an amazing bit of Javascript that displays a any content you like on a long virtual sheet. Its kind of like those great “entire history of the world” posters that you grew up with. I found this after looking at Scott Hanselman’s web site a few days ago. I figured that I had plenty of time, so I did the same thing. It wasn’t very hard, but it wasn’t exactly brain dead easy either.

To start off, I went up to the source page for the project at MIT. The examples on there are great. The documentation is a bit basic, but most of your needs are covered. After searching around a bit, I found a few other articles that were helpful, including a couple from LifeCycle Solutions and Ryan Kanno. Then it was just a matter of trying it out.

First, I added the javascript tag on my Blog Archives page:

Further down I added a div where the timeline was actually going to go:

“my-timeline” style=“height: 450px; border: 1px solid #aaa; margin-right:20px;” />

Next I created a new .js file to hold my javascript. I think I will use this file for lots of other stuff, so I made a new namespace just for the timeline code. Here is the entire file:

   1:  var TECHNOVANGELIST = {};
2: TECHNOVANGELIST.TimeLine = function() {
3: var tl;
4: var resizeTimerID = null;
5:
6: return {
7:  
8: createTimeLine: function () {
9: var eventSource = new Timeline.DefaultEventSource();
10: var theme = Timeline.ClassicTheme.create();
11: theme.event.bubble.width=520;
12: theme.event.bubble.height=120;
13: var curdate = new Date()
14: var bandInfos = [
15: Timeline.createBandInfo({
16: eventSource: eventSource,
17: date: curdate.toGMTString(),
18: width: "80%",
19: intervalUnit: Timeline.DateTime.WEEK,
20: intervalPixels: 50
21: }),
22: Timeline.createBandInfo({
23: showEventText: false,
24: trackHeight: 0.5,
25: trackGap: 0.2,
26: eventSource: eventSource,
27: date: curdate.toGMTString(),
28: width: "20%",
29: intervalUnit: Timeline.DateTime.MONTH,
30: intervalPixels: 100
31: })
32: ];
33: bandInfos[1].syncWith = 0;
34: bandInfos[1].highlight = true;
35: bandInfos[1].eventPainter.setLayout(bandInfos[0].eventPainter.getLayout());
36: tl = Timeline.create(document.getElementById("my-timeline"), bandInfos);
37: Timeline.loadXML(http://technovangelist.com/BlogTimelineSource.ashx,
function(xml, url) { eventSource.loadXML(xml, url); });
38: },
39:
40: onResize: function() {
41: if (resizeTimerID == null) {
42: resizeTimerID = window.setTimeout(function() {
43: resizeTimerID = null;
44: tl.layout();
45: }, 500);
46: }
47: }
48: };
49: } ();

Back in the Blog Archives page, I added the pointer to that js file:

<CSControl:Script src="../Common/TVLIB.js" runat="server" />
<script type="text/javascript">
   window.onload=TECHNOVANGELIST.TimeLine.createTimeLine;
   window.onresize=TECHNOVANGELIST.TimeLine.onResize;
</script>

You can try that out to see if it works so far, but your eventsource isn’t working yet. I have that pointing to a BlogTimelineSource.ashx which we haven’t created…yet. So here is the full file for BlogTimelineSource.ashx:

   1:  <%@ WebHandler Language="C#" Class="BlogTimeLineSource" Debug="true" %>
2: 
3: using System;
4: using System.Web;
5: using CommunityServer.Blogs.Controls;
6: using CommunityServer.Blogs.Components;
7: using System.Collections.Generic;
8: using CommunityServer.Components;
9: 
10: public class BlogTimeLineSource : IHttpHandler {
11:
12: public void ProcessRequest (HttpContext context) {
13: context.Response.ContentType = "text/xml";
14: context.Response.Write("<data>");
15: BlogThreadQuery query;
16: query = BlogThreadQuery.CreateNewAggregateQuery();
17:
18: query.PostConfig = BlogPostConfig.IsAggregated;
19: query.PageIndex = 0;
20: query.PageSize = 5000;
21: query.IncludeCategories = true;
22: query.BlogPostType = BlogPostType.Post | BlogPostType.Article;
23: 
24: ThreadSet ts = WeblogPosts.GetBlogThreads(query);
25: 
26: foreach (WeblogPost p in ts.Threads)
27: {
28: context.Response.Write("<event start="" + p.PostDate + "" link=""
+ p.ViewPostURL + "" title="" + p.Subject + "">");
29: context.Response.Write(context.Server.HtmlEncode(p.ForceExcerpt) + "</event>");
30: }
31: context.Response.Write("</data>");
32: }
33:
34: public bool IsReusable {
35: get {
36: return false;
37: }
38: }
39: 
40: }
At this point you run into a problem. The ashx file probably can't be found still. Its there, but Community Server doesn't know about it yet, so you may have to modify you SiteUrls_Override.config. I just added the following in an <override> block:
    <location name="BlogTimeLineSource" themeDir="common"  path="/" >
      <url name = "BlogTimelineSource"  path="/BlogTimelineSource.ashx" 
              pattern="/BlogTimelineSource.ashx" physicalPath="##themeDir##" 
              vanity="{2}" page="BlogTimelineSource.ashx"/>
    </location>

That’s it!! The toughest parts for me were trying to figure out how to reference the javascript file on a CS site, figuring out Javascript namespaces, and then doing the query in the ashx file. Then I spent a while tweaking the look…changing the height (though its referenced as width) of the bands and changing the size of the popup. Let me know if this is useful for you…