About the ChronoZoom Project



ChronoZoom is a free, open source timeline tool that allows historians, historical scientists, teachers and students to create powerful interactive timelines.

With ChronoZoom, you can zoom from a timeline that covers decades to one that covers billions of years. This is something that a timeline drawn on paper could never do!

Try ChronoZoom Now

To try ChronoZoom yourself, go to http://www.chronozoom.com

Zooming through Time

Zooming makes it possible to view Big History in a whole new way. You can browse through history on ChronoZoom, and explore an array of historical data including articles, images, video and audio. ChronoZoom’s timelines, exhibits and tours have been created by authors from a wide range of disciplines, and express unique and compelling views of history.

The way ChronoZoom interprets time might seem a little strange at first. There is a general tendency to think of time sequentially and expressed solely in linear terms, but using only dates can hide the magnificent scope of the breadth of time. For example, merely reading that the Big Bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago does not convey how vast that length of time actually is. When you use ChronoZoom to zoom from the Industrial Revolution all the way back to the Big Bang, you can see how depth provides an entirely new way to visualize time.


Quick Start

If you’re eager to dive in to ChronoZoom right now, try these things:

  • Click on the Humanity regime and see how zooming really gives you an idea of the relative sizes of time scales.
  • Search for a specific subject, such as Pluto or the Mayan calendar.
  • Click and drag to move around within the timelines. Use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out.


ChronoZoom Controls

The following diagram shows ChronoZoom’s navigational controls.




ChronoZoom links a wealth of information from five major regimes that unify all historical knowledge collectively known as Big History. Big History divides time into five major regimes:

  • Cosmos
  • Earth
  • Life
  • Human Pre-History
  • Humanity

A Regime covers a specified period of time. Some regimes are vastly larger than others. For example, the Humanity regime covers an infinitesimally small fraction of the time covered by the Cosmos regime.


The Regime Key can be found in the upper portion of ChronoZoom as shown above. Each color represents a specific Regime and this color scheme is followed throughout the timelines inside of each Regime.

By clicking on one of the Regime names, you can zoom to that Regime. ChronoZoom visually moves the screen through every Regime until you hit your target.



A timeline is a specified period of history within a Regime. Each timeline can be divided into additional sub-timelines. Different disciplines, such geology and history, categorize time in different unit and thus some Exhibits (collections of multimedia content tied to a specific historical event of interest) may show up in more than one sub-timeline.




ChronoZoom tracks your progress into Big History via the breadcrumbs in the lower left-hand corner of your screen. The term comes from the trail of breadcrumbs left by Hansel and Gretel in the popular fairytale.


Breadcrumbs allow you to track your journey through ChronoZoom. In the example above, the breadcrumbs show that you have zoomed all the way to Babylonian History. Click on a desired Regime or Timeline to zoom in or out to that topic. Click the “<<” and “>>” icons to scroll within the breadcrumb list.





Exhibits are collections of multimedia content tied to a specific historical event of interest. Exhibits might include documents, videos, pictures, and other historical data.




A Bibliography is a list of sources for the information in the Exhibit. This is important to verify the accuracy of information and to provide Academic credit to the appropriate individuals. At the bottom of every Exhibit is a click to the Bibliography. Click the link to view the source materials.


Information citing the source and link are provided. In addition, there are websites and journal publications also listed enabling you to conduct deeper research. You can close the Bibliography by clicking the X.

5 thoughts on “User Guide

  1. Pingback: Windows 8 Education App: Chronozoom - More than just a timeline creator - Australian Teachers Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

  2. Anthony

    Two thoughts:

    Firstly it seems that developing independent timelines and then trying to interlink them is counterproductive. I get the large scale divisions, but within human history at least it might be worth considering a single timeline that contains events that have associated taxonomy terms which can then be used to collate related pieces into known groupings. That way the end user who wants to, say, show the relation of the American Revolution, the other wars Britain was engaged in at the time, and then the French Revolution, would be able to type in a few terms and display what he wants, rather than trying to piece together pre-packaged timelines from disparate sources.

    Secondly I wonder if it wouldn’t be more useful to try to find a way to pull historical facts and events from a built resource (I’ll say Wikipedia since it is reasonably accurate for history older than 100 years) and populate that way. Could analyze their page structure and divine the name, time, key players, etc, from it. Taxonomy terms could be pulled from the pages in a similar way that keywords are pulled from pages for search ranking.

    Overall it’s a fascinating project and something I’ve thought needed to be developed for years now. I think the biggest failing of the manner of teaching in history classes is the lack of relational information provided. We’re taught that this happened and that happened, with a bit about proximal causation, but it’s difficult to see the larger patterns. Something like this, if it isn’t too divided up into arbitrary timelines, can let us easily explore trends in types of events in parts of the world, or compare cultural histories in time leading up to a conflict of cultures. Without that ability we just see things in isolation, which isn’t really that useful in the end.

    1. Bob WalterBob Walter

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. We did try to extract standard data, like wikipedia, into timelines. The issue is that timelines are not simply a sequence of events, they are stories that provide insight into the origins and outcomes of events that may not even appear related. Unedited content simply inserted by category has too much noise to be terribly useful. The need for human creation of timelines is a constraint we have to accept.

  3. mary smith

    i am wondering if i can find out the last time it my chronozoom project was edited. This would be similar to the information you can find about a word document. thx


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