Intro

The timeline control shows entries (such as objects, events, or posts) in chronological order.

A common use case is to provide information about changes to an object, or events related to an object. These entries can be added manually or generated by the system (for example, value XY changed from A to B). The latest entry is always on top.

There are two distinct variants of the timeline: basic and social. The basic timeline is read-only, while the social timeline offers a high level of interaction and collaboration, and is integrated within SAP Jam.

Usage

The timeline does not have a fixed location on the UI. Where you place it strongly depends on your use case.

For example:

  • If the timeline is closely related to the content and needs to be seen in parallel, you can use the dynamic side content floorplan.
  • If the timeline contains only secondary information, or only needs to be accessed occasionally, you can embed it in a tab.
  • If you are using the object page floorplan, you can use the horizontal layout to integrate the timeline (see Orientation in the Styles section below).

These are just some of the ways you can position the timeline on a page.

Use the basic timeline if:

  • You want to display read-only content, such as an object history.
  • You do not require social interaction (such as replies).
  • Your customers do not use SAP Jam.
  • You only expect a long list of posts triggered by the system.

Do not use the timeline if:

  • You expect only a few entries. In this case, use a feed by combining the two controls “FeedInput” and “FeedListItem”.
  • You want to provide a way to upload files. Use the upload collection control instead. You can still use the timeline to show automated updates about the user’s uploads.

Use the social timeline if:

  • You want users to be able to create their own posts.
  • You need social interaction, such as replies.
  • You expect a long list of posts triggered by users or the system.

Responsiveness and Adaptiveness

The timeline control is fully responsive and works well with multiple screen sizes.

For better usability, both the single-sided and the double-sided layouts have a maximum width. This prevents the control from being excessively stretched.

For size S (smartphone), we highly recommend using the single-sided layout combined with narrow containers, such as the dynamic side panel. Also use the single-sided layout if the column in the flexible layout is too narrow for the double-sided layout. Once screen real estate becomes available, switch to the double-sided version to fully utilize the available space.

The single-sided version has a maximum width of 30 rem, while the double-sided layout has 57.5 rem.

Timeline – Size S
Timeline – Size S
Timeline – Size M
Timeline – Size M
Timeline – Size L
Timeline – Size L

Layout

The timeline control consists of:

  • A header (optional)
  • A chronological axis
  • Posts/entries

 

The following optional features can be added:

  • Filter
  • Group
  • Add entries

 

Header

The title describes the content displayed along the timeline axis.

 

Axis

Along the axis, the entries are arranged chronologically. The distance does not correspond to the time between each occurrence.

You can use a vertical or horizontal axis. The timeline can be scrolled along its axis.

By default, the latest entries appear on top. Replies are sorted the other way round.

Post (Entry /Feed Update)

Posts can be entered manually or generated by the system (for example, “Object ABC was changed by Mr. X”). The entry includes information about who changed what, and when. Typically, posts in the timeline consist of four sections:

  1. A node
    Using icons on a node is optional. Use icons for either ALL or NONE of the posts.
  1. A header section, which can contain:
  1. An (expandable) content section, which can contain:
  • Text(s) and/or link(s)
  • Structured or unstructured information
  • Images
  1. An optional social section, which can contain some or all of the social features offered by SAP Jam (such as Reply, Like, Bookmark, or Share)

Note: If a section is not used, it should not take up any space within the bubble.

Timeline – Layout
Timeline – Layout

Examples for different visualizations:

Timeline – Layout examples
Timeline – Layout examples

Posts can originate from three sources:

  • Manual post: A person actively posts to the timeline (or to another place that supplies updates to the timeline).

Example:
Julie Armstrong: Hey @John Miller. Can you give me an update?

  • Post triggered by user action: The post is triggered by something a person does (such as creating a poll in SAP Jam, adding a document to a group, or uploading an attachment).

Examples:

Julie Armstrong created a poll.
(Followed by a preview of the poll)

John Miller posted the document Sales-Revenue_Q4.xls
(Followed by a preview of the document, if available)

Donna Moore wrote a blog post
(Followed by a preview of the blog post)

Julie Armstrong added the picture our_team.jpg
(Followed by a preview of the image)

  • Post triggered by a technical source: Posts can also originate from a purely technical source (for example, if a threshold has been exceeded, or a deadline has been reached).

Examples:

Boiler BB-258/80 has exceeded its maximum temperature.

Server DS209 is running out of space.

Order #052690 is overdue.

Information
Notes vs. Posts: 

Notes are not the same as timeline posts. They must be kept separate and visualized differently. Like attachments, users create notes in the context of a business object, typically within a Notes tab.

In the context of a business object, notes have the same character as attachments.

The difference is even more apparent if you compare posts to complex notes created with a rich text editor. These notes are fundamentally different from timeline posts.

To show notes on the timeline, trigger a feed post with a teaser text. For example, “Julie Armstrong added a new note: Lorem ipsum…”.

Types

Two types of timeline are available:

  • The basic timeline is read-only without social content.
  • The social timeline allows social user interaction.

Basic Timeline

(Available for all apps without SAP Jam integration)

The basic timeline is read-only. There are no user posts, replies, likes, shares, social profile, or other social features. Only system-triggered posts appear on the timeline. User actions within the app (such as creating notes and attachments, or making calls) are reflected in the timeline automatically.

The first image shows a post in the basic timeline. The second image shows an example of a basic timeline.

Basic timeline – Post
Basic timeline – Post
Basic timeline
Basic timeline

Social Timeline

(Available for apps with SAP Jam integration)

With SAP Jam, all social features are enabled. Users can post updates, reply, like, and share. Both user-triggered and system-triggered posts appear on the timeline.

The first image shows a post in the social timeline. The second image shows an example of a social timeline.

Types – Social timeline – Post
Types – Social timeline – Post
Types – Social timeline
Types – Social timeline

Behavior and Interaction

Adding a Post

In the social timeline, users can add new posts by clicking the plus ( ) icon on top of the control.

Clicking the plus (  ) icon opens a popover with the focus set inside the text area so the user can immediately start typing.

Post sends the user’s text, which then appears in the timeline. To prevent empty posts, the button stays inactive until the user has typed something.

Users can also add @mentions (references) to other users or business objects.

Interaction – Post
Interaction – Post

Replying to a Post

Next to the Post functionality, Reply is probably the most basic and most essential social feature. It enables communication at item level, which is the main way in which it differs from the feed controls. With feed controls (FeedInput and FeedListItem), new entries are always added to the top of the list; there are no in-line replies in the feed. The timeline, however, allows users to reply directly to a specific entry. The number of replies is shown in the reply link, such as Replies (5).

The user clicks or taps the respective link to trigger a popover that shows all previous replies, as well as a text area that allows the user to post a personal reply.

Interaction – Reply
Interaction – Reply

@Mention

This feature is well known from multiple social networks. Like all social features, it is only available in the social timeline, where it allows users to add a reference to another person or a business object. A ‘mentioned’ person usually receives a notification about the respective post.

The @mention feature is available in all areas that allow the user to post something:

Due to technical restrictions, this feature cannot be used on smartphones for the time being.

Interaction – @Mention
Interaction – @Mention

Users trigger the feature by typing the @ sign, or by clicking or tapping the @ button provided in the footer. The button shows users who are not familiar with this feature how to use it.

The following step-by-step walk-through concentrates on the core functionality, and therefore omits the surrounding controls.

Interaction – @Mention (1)
Interaction – @Mention (1)

As soon as a user types the ‘@’ character, he or she is prompted to enter a person’s name or email address.

Interaction – @Mention (2)
Interaction – @Mention (2)

As the user continues to type, a list of suggestions appears.

Interaction – @Mention (3)
Interaction – @Mention (3)

This suggestion list is gradually reduced to only include items that match the user’s input. If the user clicks on the suggestion or finishes typing the name of an existing person, the @mention is created.

(Due to technical restrictions, @mentions cannot be highlighted visually to indicate a successful match.)

Expand and Collapse

Some updates might be too lengthy to show in full. For these cases, applications can decide to show only a preview and let users expand the post if they want to read it. You can set a limit for the number of lines to be shown (recommended), or for the number of characters.

This example shows a post that previews 3 lines before truncating and showing a More button in the next line. Clicking this button expands the post to its full length and changes the button text to Less. Clicking this button again collapses the post to its previous height.

Interaction – Expand/Collapse
Interaction – Expand/Collapse

Search

Always offer a search with the timeline because it could contain a vast number of entries. A search helps users to find what they are looking for without having to scroll through all the posts and updates.

Initially, the search field is closed and only visualized with a search icon.

Clicking on the icon opens…

… the search field with the focus in the field so the user can start to type immediately.

Filter (Optional)

For timelines with several entries or entry types, it makes sense to enable filtering. You can let users filter the timeline by entry type and by other useful attributes (such as bookmarked). Users can even filter by time range to find posts between two specific dates, months, quarters, or years.

The filter is triggered with the  icon in the toolbar.

Timeline interaction – Filter
Timeline interaction – Filter

Depending on the complexity of the timeline, you can offer different kinds of filter dialog:

  • Single selection
Timeline interaction – Filter with single selection
Timeline interaction – Filter with single selection
  • Multi-selection
Timeline interaction – Filter with multi-selection
Timeline interaction – Filter with multi-selection
Multi-faceted filter
To implement this combination of feed source and filter, use the view settings dialog (sap.m.ViewSettingsDialog).
Interaction – Filter with view settings dialog
Interaction – Filter with view settings dialog

If a filter is set, inform the user in the info toolbar.

Timeline interaction – Set filter
Timeline interaction – Set filter
Developer Hint
Starting with UI5 version 1.48, sorting and filtering is no longer restricted to the front end. The timeline offers full filter and sorting support for model binding.

Scrolling

The timeline offers endless scrolling. As soon as the user reaches the end of the pre-loaded list, more posts are fetched from the back end.

Developer Hint
To enable infinite scrolling, set both properties GetLazyLoading and EnableScroll to true.

In exceptional cases, it might be more useful to let users trigger the fetching process manually. Once the number of displayed timeline entries exceeds the number of entries set, a Show More button appears at the bottom of the list for loading additional posts.

Based on the specific use case and app performance, each app team determines the number of entries displayed before the Show More button appears.

Use the Show More button instead of infinite scrolling if you expect users to look at only the most recent posts, and you do not expect them to scroll through longer lists of posts.

Grouping

The timeline allows applications to group posts by certain criteria, such as by year. Groups can be expanded and collapsed for a better overview.

Grouping is supported by all timeline types and layouts: vertical and horizontal as well as left-, right- and double-sided.

The following example shows two collapsed groups (2018 and 2017) and an expanded group (2016).

Interaction – Grouping
Interaction – Grouping

Custom Actions

App developers can introduce custom actions that can be performed on a timeline post. Keep these actions to an absolute minimum since they will appear in the limited space next to the social actions (see point 4 in the Layout section above).

In the first example, the custom actions Edit (1) and Delete (2) have been added to the post.

Behavior – Custom actions 'Edit' and 'Delete'
Behavior – Custom actions 'Edit' and 'Delete'

In the second example, the custom action Download (3) enables the user to quickly download an attachment directly from the post.

Behavior – Custom action 'Download'
Behavior – Custom action 'Download'

Refresh

Instead of showing new posts as soon as they arrive (which would disrupt the user’s reading), the timeline offers a very subtle way of notifying users about new posts.

App developers can place a message strip directly below the toolbar to show how many new posts can be retrieved from the back end.

Behavior – Refresh
Behavior – Refresh

If a filter is active, the message strip shows alongside the filter info bar.

Behavior – Refresh and Filter
Behavior – Refresh and Filter

Styles

Orientation

There are various layout options. When you choose the layout, consider the type of content and the screen real estate available for displaying the control.
(See guidelines section for more details.)

Vertical

Use the vertical timeline for narrow containers or on smartphones (in portrait mode).

Styles – Vertical (single-sided), right
Styles – Vertical (single-sided), right
Styles – Vertical (single-sided), left
Styles – Vertical (single-sided), left
Styles – Vertical (double-sided)
Styles – Vertical (double-sided)

Horizontal

You can use the horizontal timeline on wide screens, the object pageor even on smartphones in landscape mode.

You can display both the vertical and horizontal timelines with or without icons.

Styles – Horizontal (single-sided), bottom
Styles – Horizontal (single-sided), bottom
Styles – Horizontal (single-sided), top
Styles – Horizontal (single-sided), top
Styles – Horizontal (double-sided)
Styles – Horizontal (double-sided)

Icons vs. Bullets

When you design your application, you can chose between two visualizations for listing posts on the timeline: icons or bullet points.

You can use icons if all entry types that will appear in the timeline can be represented by an icon.

If you cannot find icons for all post types, use bullet points instead.

Styles – Vertical with icons
Styles – Vertical with icons
Styles – Vertical without icons
Styles – Vertical without icons

Colors

You can use colors to highlight entries in the timeline and to convey semantic information (for example, to indicate the status or urgency of an entry).
Styles – Timeline with icons and semantic colors
Styles – Timeline with icons and semantic colors

Guidelines

  • Only use the speech bubble icon for posts entered manually by users:  
    CSS name: icon-post
    HTML Unicode: & # xe 0 a b ; (remove the spaces)
  • Do not use colors for decoration. Only use colors to convey semantic information (for example, warnings or errors).
  • When using the vertical timeline, use single(right)– or double-sided layout, unless the use case calls for the left-sided version.
  • When using the horizontal layout, use the single(bottom)– or double-sided version, unless the use case can be supported by the top-sided version.
  • When you choose the layout, consider the type of content and the screen real estate available for displaying the control. For example:
    • In a vertically-oriented dynamic side content container, the timeline should be oriented vertically. Likewise, if the container is oriented horizontally (either by design or due to responsive behavior), the timeline should also be horizontal.
    • Sections on an object page offer more horizontal than vertical space. In this case, use a horizontal timeline – either single-sided (bottom) or double-sided.

Resources

Want to dive deeper? Follow the links below to find out more about related controls, the SAPUI5 implementation, and the visual design.

Elements and Controls

Implementation