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Create a timeline chart

Turn your tables into timeline charts for tracking, sharing, and summarizing projects.

Updated over a week ago

Coda tables transform effortlessly into a variety of views, empowering each user to interact with the table data in their preferred way. And timelines are one of these views!

In Coda, timelines and Gantt charts are the same. They allow you to visualize and track a series of events that take place over a specific timeframe, which is great for project tracking.

Within this article you’ll find...

Create a timeline chart

There are two ways to begin building your timeline chart. You can either type /timeline into the canvas and follow the instructions, or you can first build out a table that you convert to a timeline view.

To convert the table to a timeline view, hover over the table, select Options in the top right of the table. In the panel that appears on the right hand side of your doc, you will go the far right and click on the More option. This will drop down a menu from which you can select Timeline.

With views, you don’t have to choose between a table display and a timeline display - you can have both. Learn more here.

create new timeline chart.gif

For any timeline chart that you build, you must include a timeframe for each item. Take task tracking for example, you will either need to include a start date column and a duration column, or alternatively start date and end date columns. Some other typical data, and therefore columns, for timeline views include:

  • Task or Project

  • Owner

  • Phase

Customize a timeline chart

Since Coda’s timeline chart is a table at its core, we can use filter, sort, group, and conditional format features like we could on any table by clicking the respective options in the Options panel.

For one quick example, in a task tracker you may want to use grouping to display tasks by person so you can easily see each team member’s tasks together.

In addition to these, there are some timeline specific features for further customizing your chart. In the Options panel, click on Timeline display and find:

  • Chart type - should always be Timeline

  • Start date - Select the date that starts tracking

  • End date - Select the date that ends tracking

  • Default time axis - Set your default timeframe (day, week, month, quarter, year, multi-year) for collaborators depending on the duration of your work

  • Default view date - Ability to choose if the default loading of the timeline shows first, current, or last date; we would suggest defaulting to first date

  • Label display - choose which column to display on the tasks in your timeline

  • People display - Easily see who is responsible for each task; use this setting to choose which People column you want to display for each task. Select None if prefer to remove this detail from the primary display.

  • Label overflow - clean up your timeline view by toggling overflow Off; labels will be limited to the length of the task, until the row is expanded.

  • Milestones - Enable this to start showing project milestones in your timeline. Read more below.

  • Time zone - Ability to choose to set the timezone for your collaborators based on a doc OR their individual timezone

  • New row button and search options - similar to any other table Coda

💡 If you've set custom working days and holidays, you can also choose whether or not your timeline should respect this custom schedule. Look for the Respect working days toggle in the timeline display options. Learn more here.

Create milestones

Milestones let your team understand what they are working towards. They mark significant moments in a project such as a launch date, phase completion, or any other moment that is important to your team. Milestones have no duration, so they’ll appear as small diamonds on your timeline - making them visually distinct. And like any items on your timeline, you can click and drag your milestones, and the date will change accordingly.

To enable milestones, follow these steps:

  1. Hover over your timeline, and click Options in the upper right corner. Then choose Timeline display.

  2. Locate and toggle on the Milestones option.

Now any row in your table that doesn’t have an end date or duration will automatically be considered a milestone.

To add more milestones, add a row to your table, assign a start date, but don’t assign an end date or duration. Alternatively, click the + on the left panel of your timeline, and select New milestone.

💡Pro tip: you can make your milestones stand out even more in your timeline by adding color via conditional formatting.

Set up dependencies

Dependencies are often an important part of project and task tracking. A dependency is a relationship between tasks, where one task is dependent on another. For instance, maybe you have Task B which can’t begin until Task A is completed. Or you have Task C which can’t begin until Task D also begins.

Within timelines, we make it easy to set up - and even enforce - dependencies. Just follow these steps:

  1. Hover over your timeline, and click on Options (in the upper right corner)

  2. Click into Timeline display

  3. Scroll to the Dependencies section, and click Set up dependencies

  4. In the first drop-down, you’ll choose which column represents dependencies in your table (note that this must be a relation column).

    1. If you haven’t yet set up a dependencies column, click +Add a new column instead. A new relation column will automatically be added to your data.

That’s it! You’ve now configured your dependency column for your timeline. You can click or drag the dependency handle from one event to the event you’d like to create a dependency between. To remove a dependency, right-click on the dependency line in the timeline and select Remove dependency from the menu.

💡 If you've set custom working days and holidays, you can choose whether or not you want your dependencies to respect this custom schedule. Learn more here.

Enforce dependencies

If you’re on a Team or Enterprise plan, you have access to an additional feature: enforced dependencies. This feature ensures that when the date of a task changes, the dependent task will update automatically. And even better - you can simply click and drag tasks on your timeline, and dates of the dependent task will move automatically.

NEW enforce dependencies timeline.gif

To enable dependency enforcement, just follow these steps:

  1. Hover over your timeline, and click on Options (in the upper right corner)

  2. Click into Timeline display

  3. Scroll to the Dependencies section, and click Set up dependencies or Settings (depending on whether you’ve already set up dependencies for your timeline).

  4. Then below the column drop-down, choose how you want to enforce dependencies. Choose between Off (no enforcement), flexible enforcement, and strict enforcement.

    • Off: This mode means there is no automatic enforcement. You can still drag tasks on the timeline to adjust dates, but you’ll have to update dependent tasks manually. Available to all Coda plans.

    • Flexible: This mode will only move items when their dates overlap. Only available on Team and Enterprise plans.

    • Strict: This mode maintains the buffer between items when any shifts are made. Only available on Team and Enterprise plans.

  5. Once you’ve selected your enforcement type, confirm the correct Start and End date columns that the enforcement will be based on.

That’s it! Try dragging tasks on your timeline and watch as the dependent tasks update and move automatically.

Navigate within your timeline

Coda has a handful of ways to navigate your timeline, all accessible in the top right hand of the timeline chart itself. Below we list these out in the order they appear from left to right.

First, you have the option to filter your own view as you are working in a timeline based on timeframes (day, week, month, quarter, year, and multi-year) in the top right of the timeline. This filter will be personal to your view, and won’t affect how others view the timeline.

Note that you can also set a default timeframe that all viewers see when they open their respective doc and timeline (see more on this in the previous section).

Next, click Today to easily move the timeline to today’s date. Coda will continue to keep whatever timeframe you have selected!

Next, there is the Fit option. Use this to adjust your timeline’s view to show all the items. This is especially helpful if you are having trouble deciding the best timeframe to choose.

navigate timeline view.gif

Lastly, you will see a calendar icon. By clicking this and selecting a date, you are able to jump to specific dates on the calendar for easier navigation.


Why is my timeline producing an error message?

Timeline charts are all about time. So, in order for your timeline to work properly, you must either select Start and End columns, with date formats, or Start and Duration columns in your table options. If using duration, make sure you specify days with "days" in the text string.

How can I add color to my timeline?

You can use table conditional formatting to do so. Hover over your table or timeline view to select Options (in the upper right of the table). Select Conditional format, and then select Add Rule.

Choose the column for which the rule applies - each column in the table will appear as an option so you can fully customize. Note that in order for the color or formatting to display in your timeline view, you must include the display column in your Apply to columns.

Why can’t I show the person associated with each task?

Check that your table contains a people column type that is populated correctly. Then open your table options (see section above for info) and make sure that the correct people column is selected under the People display column field.

Can you set up dependencies in a timeline?

Yes! Setting up dependencies in timelines is easy. Just follow the steps in the section above. If you haven’t yet set up a dependency column, you’ll be prompted to do so first.

Can you enforce dependencies in a timeline?

If you’re on a Team or Enterprise plan, you can enforce dependencies so that when a date of a task is changes (even by dragging it on the timeline), the dependent task updates and move automatically. Check out the section above for instructions.

Will timelines and dependencies take into account our custom workdays or holidays?

If you've set up custom working days and/or custom holidays, your timeline and dependencies won't automatically factor these in. If you want to change this, you need to open the timeline display options, and toggle on the Respect working days toggle.

Once the Respect working days toggle has been turned on, items on the timeline can no longer start or end on non-working days. This applies both to manually moved items as well as auto-moved items when in Strict and Flexible dependencies mode. The dates specified in the custom holidays table will be grayed out on the timeline. Learn more about this setting here.

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