This Mousebyte explains how to create a Timeline drawing in Visio 2010.  Timelines allow you to visualise and communicate schedules.  This Mousebyte will also show you how to add intervals (critical timespans), milestones and a today marker as well as how to use an expanded and synchronised timeline.

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Starting Your Timeline Drawing

To create a Timeline drawing click File | New and then click Schedule in the Template Categories area.

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Next click on the Timeline template button.

Click on the Ribbon’s Timeline tab to view tools and commands for this type of drawing.

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The first shape to add to your drawing is one of the timeline shapes: this will form the foundation of your drawing.

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Once a timeline shape is added to the drawing, you will be asked to configure it with start and finish dates as well as timescale settings, as shown below.

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Click on the Time Format tab to configure additional options.

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Click on OK to confirm.

Add Intervals to the Timeline

An interval is a critical timespan on the timeline.  Choose the correct interval shape to match your timeline shape.

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When you add an interval to the drawing you will be prompted to configure it with the dialog box shown below.  Set the start and finish date and give the interval a descriptive name.

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Click OK to confirm.  The interval will appear on your timeline.

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If required, you can change the position of the interval description by dragging the yellow diamond control handle above or below the timeline.  The description will then appear in that position, as shown below.

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Add a Milestone

There are different shape milestones available on the Timeline stencil.

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As with interval shapes, when you add a milestone shape to the drawing you will be prompted to configure it: specify a milestone date and add a descriptive name.

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Click on OK to confirm and your milestone will appear on your timeline.

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Add a Today Marker

A today maker automatically shifts position on the timeline to reflect the actual date.

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The today marker sits on the current date’s position on the timeline as shown below.

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Show Elapsed Time

Add the Elapsed time shape to show elapsed time on the timeline.

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Elapsed time is shown as a line extending from the far left of the time line up to the current date. The elapsed time shape will automatically update.

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Show an Expanded Timeline

You can expand a segment of a timeline using the expanded timeline shape.

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When you add the expanded timeline to the drawing you will be asked to configure it. Set the date parameters to match the portion of the main timeline you want to represent.

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Click OK to confirm.

Grey dashed lines indicate an association between the two timelines.

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You could add intervals to your expanded timeline to display further timeline detail.

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If you add a milestone or an interval to the main timeline the expanded timeline will automatically update.  This however does not work the other way round.

Add a Synchronised Interval or Milestone

You can synchronise milestones or intervals across timelines.

To achieve this, select the milestone or interval that you want to synchronise and then click the appropriate Synchronise button on the Ribbon.

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You can then choose which shape on another timeline to synchronise with.

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Click OK to confirm.

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