This is too cool not to deserve a special mention: The good people over at ProPublica yesterday released the software code for TimelineSetter as open source software.

TimelineSetter is software for easily creating HTML news timelines from formatted spreadsheet data. Sounds terribly geeky but it’s actually not, and it’s a great start for online publications looking for an easy way to generate interactive elements.

ProPublica, which is an independent non-profit newsroom, created TimelineSetter to fill the gap for an open source framework for generating interactive timelines. If they get it right, and so far it looks pretty good, they could completely do away with the need for hours of intense labour just to create a timeline or two to illustrate online news.

The software pulls in data from spreadsheets in a specific format and outputs the timeline in a combination of HTML and Javascript. The resulting timelines are interactive and can contain all manner of data as some of these demos show.

As the first public release of TimelineSetter it is still a little technical to get it working properly but it is a very promising tool for online journalists.

More: TimelineSetter: Easy Timelines From Spreadsheets, Now Open to All.