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Logarithmic calendar view (marco.org)
200 points by epe on Apr 7, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments

So obvious, but only in retrospect. This is insight at its best.

It is so "obvious" that it would be very easy to "steal" the idea and not give credit to Marco. After all, you could always say you had the idea independently.

Unless you are doing cutting edge research, it's impossible to verify an idea you've invented independently is truly original or not. Even then, there's no guarantee (see: Newton and Leibniz).

So I'm not really sure what point you are trying to make.

Oh, I was merely emphasizing ambition's point in a roundabout, non-serious way (I'm not suggesting that people don't give credit to Marco).

I don't agree that it's impossible to know if an idea is original or not. For instance, on one extreme, if 2 composers published a very similar concerto at about the same time, it would be assumed one of them plagiarized the other. On the other extreme, if you're working on an arithmetic problem and there's only one answer, then of course no one would be accused of plagiarism.

The Backpack Calendar has a default 6 week view with the current week at the top. The only way to see previous weeks is to expressly go back in time. Otherwise, you're always looking at this week + 5 more weeks ahead.


That covers the first point of the article. Anything available for the second and third points?

I don’t care about present-and-future items with equal granularity. I wouldn’t mind seeing today in an hour-by-hour view, but I don’t need the same granularity when showing events three days from now.

If I switch to a more granular view for today, I lose the ability to see any of what’s happening next week.

Offtopic: Any plans to allow custom repeating schemes like MWF, TR, or whatever? Basically the only reason I canceled my Backpack account and I'd really like to subscribe again.

Google Calendar, too, has a very useful three week view which does the same thing.

Not enough for me. I would really appreciate being able to adjust the number of weeks (3-6) to show.

The view should show 1 week past and the rest future, regardless of the current time of month, and have continuous rather than chunked scrolling.

I'm surprised noone brought this up, but this has been done (several times) before: the one I remember is called DateLens by Bederson et al at UMD (See http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=972652&dl=GUIDE...)

It's interesting how similar ideas keep coming up every so often.

Also touched on in the sections on "Fisheye View" by Leung et al., "A Review and Taxonomy of Distortion-Oriented Presentation Techniques" in Card et al., "Readings in Information Visualization", Morgan Kaufman, 1999.

A bit of googling also turns up http://eagereyes.org/blog/2008/fisheye-calendar-at-yahoo.htm... and a PDF of Bederson's paper on Fisheye calendars http://www.lib.umd.edu/drum/bitstream/1903/1201/1/CS-TR-4368...

Maybe I'm the only one, but I have a mental picture of my calendar using the upper-right quadrant of a Cartesian Plane. Days are on the X axis, Hours are on the Y axis. Events go from bottom-up instead of top-down like in all physical day-planners. I formed this mental model when I was very young, which may explain why I can't stand any calendaring apps today.

Does anyone else do this? I've seriously considered contacting a calendar manufacturing company to print "Cartesian Calendars" in this manner... or if any such thing already exists, please let me know!

well, you could just add a negative sign in from of the times and just write bottom up with a standard calendar

The Agenda view in Emacs's org-mode has similar ideas. In the week view you see great detail for the current day and a short overview of the days to come.

Here is a screen-shot I found online: http://tiny.cc/3gwoj

maybe like this mockup i just made?


I was thinking something like this that maintains a column format.


I find it confusing. You read it top to bottom, left to right, a column at a time. Each column is different. Different sizes. Different relationships. It feels jarring, and disconnecting. It feels like their should be a relationship between the element highlighted, and the items on the right.

I'll try to be specific.

The time is highlighted. This seems associated with the next column over, which is also highlighted (at least, compared to the rest of the column).

Next, the top and bottom of columns match up to the next column (or previous column) with the next or previous day/month. Can you scroll through these? What happens to that relationship then?

Where is April 16? 13? Is there an easy way to tell which column they are in without doing math? I can see it's 7 days ahead in the second column, but to find a date, I'm still having to scan both columns quickly to try and find the date. It's in order, but moving from the bottom to the top feels unnatural, and the sizing difference of the rows means I can't just easily/quickly scan.

Which column do I go to to find a date? Let's say I want to find an overview for the week of Aug. 8, the due date of my son. It seems like selecting a single date requires navigation in all columns, or maybe just a few. Once you start moving one column, does it affect all? That destroys relationships between columns, and then it feels like you are playing slots.

If you do keep the association, you suddenly create a problem where moving one column moves all columns. If you don't allow changing the columns (it's simply a view), then you can't use it to enter data and in turn reduces it's value. However, even with just the view, you dedicate 75% of the view to future events, 50% to events more than 7 days ahead.

I do like the progression from left to right. I also like the idea of present information getting a more detailed view while future data get's more concise. I don't think you present it in an efficient manner, but I like were you could be going with this.

TL;DR: Slot Machines don't make good planners. =)

That is brilliant. I think I'm going to steal it for my next app, for integration sometime after the MVP is done.

Speaking of which, when do we get to hear about your new project?

When I have something interesting to say. I started work on it on Monday, for certain values of "work".

The hidden agenda of the upcoming Tokyo HN meetup is to find that out.

I'd like that a little better if it had one or two past elements for each zoom level (eg., the first column is fine, the second column needs a "yesterday" and probably a "today" for grounding, the third column needs last week, and the last column needs to be 12 months starting 1 or 2 or 3 months ago)

From the third column: why pack in individual days? I can't imagine it being very easy to display multiple appointments there, you'd run out of room.

Do people really care about the exact day number that something is on? How about just displaying items in order under "second half of April"? Then you won't have space wasted if there's aren't any appointments for a few days, but the data is still there. And perhaps show the day number on hover or something.

I was thinking 1/2/5 days log ratios, but yours has the virtue of keeping the usual week/month/year. Let's see, with some arbitrary truncation/rounding:

    Log10 of 2,  5,  10:  0.3, 0.7, 1.0
    Log10 of 7, 30, 360:  0.8, 1.5, 2.5
I'll take it. Thank you.

Having seen this, it turns out it's just the old three-panel view as seen in mail progs, but put upside down. But great to see someone has transferred the ideas to calendars now.

I like the column thing, but tomorrow is more important than in 5 days, so maybe something more like this:


I like it. Here are some suggestions for anyone expanding this idea:

- make each of the main boxes a little bit narrower so you can have a full week (1+6) in the top section, and a full second week (including full-sized weekend days) across the bottom

- make the "flow" obvious somehow. A thicker line separating the top boxes from the bottom would help. Slightly darker or lighter background colors as you get farther from "today" would help as well.

- squeeze in navigation controls: a big "today" button, and forward/backward day and week arrows (in the day and week areas).

- the very bottom right box could be replaced with "upcoming", and list off anything marked as a priority in the next few weeks after the end of this display.

"Next week" shouldn't be at the day level- break it only into thirds... early- middle- late

Reminds me of Martin Wattenberg's SmartMoney Map of the Market


Why are weekends half-size?

to reflect work-weeks?

To reflect how quickly they seem to pass.

looks a bit like oursignal.com, or like a treemap in general

Fantastic idea, though I noted that the author said "I work the same schedule every weekday and I rarely meet with people.", which is something I can't relate to. I meet with a lot of people, regularly.

From my perspective:

- Last week is important on Monday ... but only on Monday. I do a quick review/plan for the following week and I use data from the previous week for accountability purposes -- as in: Did I deliver on action items from the previous week? I like to get that out of the way on Monday morning so as not to have it hanging over my head the rest of the week.

- Some appointments and meetings are more important or come with greater consequences if missed. The day view is dead on, but I'd expand it to be a pad of "Day View" (a.k.a. What's Important hour by hour) at the top with starred items beneath. For instance, my Dentist charges $75 if an appointment is canceled with less than three days notice (this is never enforced, but his time is important, too). My current method is to set a reminder four days before. Once I receive the reminder, I validate that I can make the appointment and reset it to remind me 1 day before hand so that I can cancel anything else that is short-notice that conflicts, then I reset the reminder to 20 minutes prior so that I get off my duff and drive to the Dentist office. I have a similar kludge for important meetings or ones that require a great deal of prep work. Since I check my calendar constantly, I could avoid all of this nonsense if it was just sitting under a thick line beneath my "Day View" as a constant reminder.

I recently found and implemented a nice jQuery calendar plugin called FullCalendar in a client site I'm working on. It was terribly easy to integrate into the site thanks to Django. I think I'm going to tinker with it now to see if I can get it to use this type of display as a view option, since it already offers different view options.

don't forget to publish your results ;-)

Seems like an idea worthy of some testing and tweaking.

I could go for a 3-column (or row, depending on display type) calendar, where the first column shows today in detail, the second column shows the next week in lesser detail, and the final column shows the next month in even less detail.

Perhaps clicking on a given day would bring that day into the first column and adjust the rest of the calendar accordingly. A big fat "today" button and arrows to skip by day/week/month would be fantastic.

(As the OP says, a better artist would mock this up. I am not a better artist. Sorry.)

I did a quick mockup of a interface that would work for me. You can see both future and past. However you could slide today over to the left and reveal two more future columns if that interests you more.

By scrolling/swiping you could change the day with focus. Also by tapping on any visible date, you could give focus to that day. Also a "Today" button to go to the present.


Outlook's month view lets the scroll wheel scroll through weeks. I've never understood why everything doesn't do that. If I could get real Outlook on my mac I'd drop Apple Mail in a second. It's so much better of a program (even ignoring the exchange parts)

Google Calendar has an Agenda view which simply shows your upcoming events as an ordered list. I use this as my default view and use the monthly view when scheduling new events.

I can't access google calendar at the moment (at work), but when I use it i have it in a view that only shows the next 7 days. This ticks one of the boxes this guy's talking about.

As for having an expanded view of today, and a reducing detail view of the following days ... that's a great idea i think.

You know you can go to https://www.google.com/calendar/render?

Google Calendar is also blocked where I work, but using https does the trick.

i would give you 10 mod points if i could. thankyou so much for letting me plan my life again.

Thuderbird has a pretty good calendering extension called Lightning. By default it adds a pane to the normal view with upcoming events: "Today", "Tomorrow", and "Soon" for stuff in the following week. I find that tremendously useful, and close to Marco's idea.

this idea was posted a few months ago and I can not find it. anyone have references to it?

Just so I don't look like a dick: I don't think he stole my idea. We actually emailed back and forth a while ago (started about something else, calendars came up).

People have the same ideas at the same time. It's always nice to get another perspective.

Dan Ingalls (the original implementor of Smalltalk) built a weather station that showed the weather on a logarithmic graph. Very cool idea.


I simply love this idea. I wanted to create a calendar app and I'll clearly remember your idea if I have the time to do my project.

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