Since my favorite app, CircaVie by AOL, died many years ago, I’ve been on the lookout for great timeline tools. The most common one is Dipity. There’s also capzles, timeglider, and even ProPublica’s TimelineSetter. But nothing has worked well . . . until now. TimelineJS was built by VéritéCo as a project of the Knight News Innovation Lab. While still rough around the edges, this timeline offers a clean design and great user experience, and it looks as fantastic on a tablet as it does a desktop. I’m hoping they continue to develop it because it has great potential.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality—the mashup of real life and digital life—is inevitable. This emerging platform is perfect for storytellers, and the tech is continually being simplified. It’s time to play and explore, but don’t expect mass adoption just yet.
While technology like Google Goggles is still a couple years away, the tools for creating AR experiences have never been easier. Companies like Layar and its Creator website offer simple ways to create augmented interactives. Imagine your user waving a phone over a photograph in your print publication, and the portrait comes alive—no QR codes required. Think Harry Potter-style newspapers!

Other companies like BuildAR have focused on producing mobile experiences on the Junaio platform. Currently, the content produced for AR platforms is either light or gimmicky, so storytellers and journalists should experiment and get ahead of this tech. AR is achievable now for consumption on a smartphone.

Data visualization & infographics

Tell engaging stories through data with these versatile visual tools. Little to no programming or design skills are required . . . but they certainly help. This medium is a craft, so treat it as such.

If you’re starting with a spreadsheet or a database, try IBM’s Many Eyes, Protovis, or Tableau. These programs crunch the numbers and visualize patterns for you. If it’s an infographic you need, two great Web-based apps, and easelly, help you illustrate your facts and figures.


Robert Hernandez aka WebJournalist, is an assistant professor at USC Annenberg. He has been working in Web journalism for more than a decade. He has worked for,,, La Prensa Gráfica, among others. Hernandez is the co-founder of #wjchat and creator of Learn Code for Journalism with Me project. He is currently serving on the Online News Association board and a lifetime member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.