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Major new version and Kickstarter!

In short: 

In early May we will launch a Kickstarter campaign which will enable us to rebuild Chronas with heavily increased performance, extended editability and exciting new features such as a 3D story mode.

In detail:

The technical framework of Chronas needs a reboot! Having a 10-30 second loading time is unacceptable, as is the performance when switching between layers and time. To truly utilize the power of the community, map and marker data needs to be editable by any signed up member (just like Wikipedia).

In order to achieve these goals, I am planning to write a dedicated API component which will allow serving data in milliseconds without any startup cost (no load time anymore!) and which will feature authorized edits and versioning (the ability to quickly roll back edits). With this it will not only be possible to easily double the time span supported from 0 - 2000 to 2000 BC - today, it will also allow for any registered user (not only a hand-selected few) to edit any data point of the Chronas application. This is especially important in our history domain in which our data to curate and add is virtually limitless - only an open community can truly achieve the goal of fixing most of today's data issues! Once we reached that step, we will start to require users to list sources for their edits and have discussion pages available.

There is also a number of new features planned for the next release. The one I am most excited about is a 3D story mode which will let the user view historic cities, monuments, events or battles in an interactive 3D environment with a timeline. See how the Battle of Lepanto played out from a bird's eye view or accompany Marco Polo on his travels East or Hernan Cortes on his conquest of the Aztecs! In order to let the community extend, edit and create new story scenarios, I am planning to write an online editor (similar to Google Earth's KML editor). Before the Kickstarter launches, I will also have a proof of concept (quick demo) ready which will depict this 3D feature in more detail.

Another feature will be the media section of any data point in which users can rate, add and edit (reddit style) links to media related to the specific topic, grouped by media type such as articles, books, images, videos or primary sources.

Hand in hand with the upgrade of the Chronas application, will be an overhaul of the community page. Firstly, the main application will get it's own website (so you don't always need to go through the community site). Secondly, I want to make having a profile more meaningful by offering customized options and a true forum of exchange between members. It will also be possible to publish own history related articles through the website.

Why Kickstarter?

Since the first version of Chronas was released in October 2015, it's main app and this community site are both hosted on a single, small sized server (1 GB Memory / 30 GB Disk) located in NYC. We want to keep Chronas strictly ad-free and open source, and because we also never asked for donations or other payments, we simply had no funds to boost our server capacities. If the campaign will be a success, we can not only upgrade the server instance (which will allow for more concurrent users and a more fluent user experience) but also enable versioning (see above) which will act as a security mechanism for our data.

What's next?

We will keep working on this article and extend the feature list. For the Kickstarter campaign to be a success, we need to get the word out. To make it more easy for blogs and news outlets to write about us, I will compile a press-kit which will include images and videos of the project. The exact date of the Kickstarter launch will be announced in a couple of weeks.

In preparing and during the Kickstarter campaign I need your feedback:

  • What needs to be on the final feature list? 
  • Which Kickstarter rewards would you like to see (t-shirts, posters, digital rewards...)?
  • What general ideas do you have to make this campaign a success?

Please leave your suggestions in the comments or write me an email at dietmar.aumann{at}gmail.com.

And finally, thanks for reading through this article! Please spread the word!

 

Proposed Feature List

  • Stand-alone history application (no need to go through the community page anymore)
  • Ability to link to a specific place, time or article on the history map
  • New dedicated API which will drastically reduce loading time and improve over-all performance
  • Wikipedia style edit functionality with tracking and roll-back capability for any member
  • Extended timeline from 2000 BC to 2000 AD
  • 3D mode visualizing historical events and places (battles, discoveries, life stories, routes, monuments, ancient cities, historical ships...)
  • CZML editor to create above 3D storylines 
  • Ability to choose between a historical and minimal (modern) theme
  • Media section for every data point at which users can link and rate related videos, images, articles etc.
  • Discussion section for every data point at which logged-in users can discuss historical facts
  • Account section for logged-in users to customize, personalize the application, save settings, add bookmars, reminders and comments
  • ...depending on the raised funds and community feedback, more features can be added to the roadmap

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