Dipity – The review

In the words of Gru “Now that’s what I’m talkin a-bout.” This is easily one of the best timeline creators out there. While there are a few areas I’m iffy on, I can fully recommend this website to create timelines for your class. It is well thought out, very easy to use and gives you options on top of options that most others do not, or if they do, it is not done as well. I implore you to eagerly read on past the break to get all the Dipity goodness.

Signing up

Like the other timeline creators it is super easy to get started and you need an email address. You fill out the basic info in a new window such as user name, password, and to make sure you’re not a bot, you have to input those words you see in a box. It’s pretty simple so I don’t have a picture for this step. The next step however . . .

Dipity is a social site as well and they want your address book to better promote your work and of course, to promote their website. Don’t worry about this with your students, you can skip this step.

Creating a Timeline
One thing that all of these websites do well is getting a timeline started and Dipity is no different. To create a timeline you only need to click Create a Timeline at the top of the page. Then you are welcomed with this simple, yet important box. None of the fields are required to create a timeline and you can go back and change them whenever you want.

Something very nice about this page, is how you can configure the permissions. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

In one simple step, Dipity lets you determine who can view the timeline, who can contribute to the timeline and who can edit the timeline. It is a great and easy way to set up a collaborative timeline with other people in the class. It’s easy and simple.

This next step is something that helps Dipity shine. Dipity allows you to use already created material to help populate your timeline. Check it out below, and I will break it down more after the picture.

You can add YouTube videos, photos from Flickr, posts from a blog, etc. right into Dipity and it will add that automatically into the timeline based on the source information. Awesome. Let me show you some of the cooler ones.

You can search these sites and it will take the top results and add them into your site. Not the best way to build a timeline, but if you’re looking for a recent event, it might be a great starting point

With this selection you click on the service you want to upload from, give the username and select the photo albums you want to include. The photo and its date will be included in the timeline automatically. Pretty cool huh? Wait, there’s more!


This works the same way as the photos. You give the username, Dipity will find all the relevant videos uploaded by the user and insert it into the timeline.


Just as before, select the service, give the URL (or web address) and it’s inserted. If you want to include ALL the posts, then you need to log in as that person in order to submit them to the blog.

I think you’re getting the idea. There is also Music, Messaing, Timelines, and Other. Below are the pictures and you can see how easy it can be to create a very detailed timeline.

Wow, now those are some real choices to help build a timeline.

Of course if you need to add it manually, at the top of list is Add Event. This (like the others) is very easy to do. In my opinion it is even easier. When inputting the date, the other sites had drop down menus, but Dipity allows you to add it manually (or by selecting the date from a calendar). What’s great about this are the numerous ways you can input the date. I used slashes (1/23/2010), dashes (1-23-2010), abbreviations (Jan 23, 2010), without commas (jan 23 2010) and so on, and it just took it. It seems as long as you follow this pattern (month-day-year) Dipity will probably figure it out. I know it is a small item, but it is these small details that help raise Dipity above its competition.

When adding an event, you can add a picture (upload or from a URL), you can embed video, add a link, or even add a location. All of this information (and it can be a lot) can be easily viewed on Dipity. Just awesome look at the Add Event box real quick to see how easy it is. Also, if you don’t want to add all your events here you can do it from the timeline itself.

Advanced Settings

This is a fun one and can be changed at any time. This is another reason why Dipity rocks. You can select the Default Zoom which is what will initially be seen on the timeline. You can show from 5 minutes up to 5000 years. Wow, If you need to go into intervals of 5000 years, that has to be on serious timeline!

Also, you may notice that people can leave comments on the timeline AND on the individual events themselves. There are three themes to chose from, but they are all pretty boring. When this done click Save and View Timeline to see what you’ve created. It looks pretty darn good in my opinion.

The Timeline

Like all the others you can embed it, share it, and even view it in full screen with these buttons at the top.

The full screen view (the button is left of the Embed option) looks fantastic.

 The events are easy to see and read. The pictures are very visible. When you click on an event, the information comes up right away and if you have a video embedded in the event it loads in a very acceptable time. In other words it is slick, but there is more.

Views
At the top left of the timeline you have different views.

You can select a Flipbook, where the events themselves slip through like cover flow on Apple devices. List, that is what it says it is, a list of the events in chronological order of course. Finally there is the Map option. If you’ve included location information, then it will show up on a Google map where you can zoom into and out of specific locations. Great for charting battles, voyages, and treks in history class.

Check out my timeline here: http://www.dipity.com/itbabble/The-Life-of-Omar/

and you can see the YouTube video here


In Conclusion
Well I really like Dipity if you can’t tell. It blows xTimeline and timetoast out of the water in my opinion. That is not to say that Dipity is perfect. There are some features that I wish they would rethink or just change.

The first is the free account. With the free account you can only make 3 timelines. That kind of sucks. After that you need to pay or delete some timelines. It’s not ideal, and when you are offering a very good product it is only natural that one capitalize on it, but I really don’t like it too much.

The next thing, is the educator’s “discount.” Teachers and students get a whopping 20% off. Well, that is pretty lame, especially if you are paying $4.99/month. That comes out to $12 saved a year. Not really worth it in my opinion. They have other accounts too-take a look below and let me know if that 20% savings would persuade you to upgrade.

So if you went to the Pro account you would be paying $40 a month instead of $50.

Another thing was in the timeline itself. The controls to zoom into different areas were a little touchy and the inertia that Omar likes so much in Timeglider was only OK here Dipity. This is not a deal breaker, but something that I found a little annoying.The other thing, is the ads. I know I complained about the ads a bit in xTimeline and how distracting they were, but man these ads are not only everywhere, but they can be a bit inappropriate for students. I really don’t want my students bombarded with ads about meeting sexy women online. Now some of the ads were not as inappropriate as others, but to know that certain ads are out there is enough to give me a bit of pause.

In general I love the product. If it wasn’t for the ads or the skimpy “educator’s discount” I’d give it 4 DTs, but alas I can only bring myself to give it 3 DTs. I guess the big question is would I use Dipity? It would have to be yes. The pros outweigh the cons and the ultimate product will look great and I believe this will help engage students and teacher alike.

About Patrick Cauley

I teach middle school technology and love to play around with tech and teach students and colleagues alike. You can read my blog at www.itbabble.com
This entry was posted in Helpful Tips, Opinion, Review, Tech Integration and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Dipity – The review

  1. Dale Nute says:

    Do you know of any timelines that run the line down the middle of the page so you can put the facts below the line and comments/analyses above the line?

  2. Pingback: Dipity: Think Linear | Tools for 21C Media

  3. Kay says:

    Not sure if many people have had the same issues with dipity as I have but for us it has been a disaster. Dipity takes too long to load and I usually have to begin at least an hour before my class comes in to log in and wait for my student’s accounts to come up. When they try to select a timeline they have been working on they may get their timeline or they may get a random one. After two frustrating weeks (thought this would take three days) my students have finally finished their timeline and now I am trying to go back and grade them and the site is down. Any “feedback” I have given has not been responded to. The shame of it all is that the final product is really good but not worth all the trouble. We will not use it again.

    • Kay,
      That sounds like a terrible nightmare indeed. I do understand your frustration, I’ve had a similar experience with Google Docs. At any rate thanks for sharing your comments. I know that in the spring Omar and I are going to revisit all the timeline websites that we visited and revamp the rankings.
      I’ve come across other people who have had issues with Dipity since our post in April, but nothing to that extent. There issues were certain features didn’t work. Omar and I will definitely try it out a little more rigorously next time to see if we can recreate that and share our experience. I know in April when we tried out Dipity everything was working fine. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of where the company is going.

  4. Steve says:

    Wow… great breakdown of Dipity for the classroom.

    We’re thrilled that you’re such a fan. Please send us any timelines you’ve been working on so we can take a look!

    -Steve

    • Thanks for the comment Steve. Yes, I really like the service, no question about that. While we’ve only tested out Dipity, I’ll be sure to let you know when we have some better timelines.

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