Dan Snow - Timeline WW2

Posted on Tuesday 24th April 2012


Timeline ww2
Timeline WW2 is a definitive history of the Second World War for the iPad, bringing the events of 70 years ago to life for a twenty-first century audience. The app features an amazing interactive timeline which revolutionizes the way that history can be viewed and understood.
The app includes features such as a zoomable interactive WW2 timeline which allows the user to explore the events of the war in an innovative new way. The timeline can be searched and filtered to allow the user to focus on the areas which are of the most interest to them.
The app also uniquely features a dynamic timeline map of the war, which shows invasions, occupations, allegiances, fronts and country boundary changes. A location feature on timeline items allows users to see where each event took place on the on the world map, which can then be zoomed in on, to see territories and locations up close.
There are over 100 US and UK archive films from British Pathé along with over 600 still images and 1,500 written entries. The user can choose from the original newsreel audio, or listen to Dan Snow's additional commentary. Film clips can be viewed in whichever order the user chooses, either on the iPad or on a television using AirPlay.

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Dan snow talks apps and Military history for the twenty-first century:
Dan Snow has been making waves recently discussing his views regarding Apps as a replacement for books. He took a few moments out of his hectic schedule to catch up with Warfare about history broadcasting for the digital age, the work that goes into producing an App like Timeline WW2 and why it is such an innovation for military history research.
Great to speak with you, Dan, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule. According to Twitter you have been in Rome already this week, where are you now?
Romania. We're looking for the elusive physical evidence for the Roman Emperor Trajan's conquest of Dacia. Using remote sensing from satellites we've found some amazing remains of the Roman marching camps.
tell me, what do you think of Warfare and the brand new website and format?
I really like the sense that it is a place where enthusiasts and historians can get all the news, reviews and all sorts of other information about military history. It's a one stop shop!
Congratulations on the new app, Timeline WW2. I hear it has been quite a hit and is already in the Top 25! Has it been an interesting project to work on, how long has it taken to produce?
It has been a fascinating project which has been pretty much a year in development. I really believe in the electronic future of quality scholarship and we wanted to try and create a new benchmark for digital history.
How did the project come about and what made you decide to get involved with it?
For years I have worked with Tom Clifford at Ballista, a production company we both own. We have always tried to be at the very forefront of innovation. We produced some of the earliest video guides for phones and a walking guide to the Battle of Hastings. We knew apps represented a huge opportunity so we pressed ahead, hoping that it would work out!!
Who is the app aimed at? Will it appeal to users with a more in depth knowledge or is it aimed towards a younger audience who might be new to Second World War history perhaps?
Both I reckon. I learned a lot about some of the titanic naval battles of the Pacific for example. No one can possibly keep all the details of an epic event like WW2 in their heads. Even the biggest enthusiasts will hear stories and pictures that are new to them. I also don't think anyone has ever built a comprehensive, dynamic map like we have done before.
There are over 100 archive films incorporated within the app, along with the many still images and written entries, would you say it is a British account of the events of WW2 or does it follow other points of view such as German, Italian, Japanese and so on.
I can tell you exactly how many events on the timeline relate to each country as I have painstakingly tagged them all myself! There are more and German, American entries than British. Although lovers of British military history won't feel short-changed!
Presumably it is available to purchase worldwide via the app store, are there plans to release any foreign language versions?
We hope so. We'd love Japanese, Russian, Chinese, German and French versions as a start. Those nations played pivotal roles in the war, obviously.
The undertaking of the research for a project like this must have been immense! Where did you start?
We had books that formed the basis for the content. But everything required re-writing. And tagging!
What is your favourite feature of the app, what aspect of it are you most proud of?
The whole idea of placing events on a timeline which the user can then manipulate. It's what tablet devices are for. And the dynamic map is groundbreaking too.
What made you decide to add your commentary to the original audio, what do you think this adds for the user?
The user can choose the slightly dated 1940s voice over to get a sense of the drama and the period or my slightly more analytical commentary. Choice is at the heart of the app.
What made you decide to go ahead with a WW2 app rather than a First World War or other period of history? Is the Second World War your main area oF
I hope it's the start. We'll have to see if its practical. If the audience like it, we've got the whole of history to play with.
Would you describe the app as an encyclopedia of WW2?
Yes: it's not a narrative history. It's pictures, event summaries, videos and a map. It's very searchable.
I understand that users can view the video clips through their television as well as on the iPad, that's a nice touch! What other unique features are there that a user would benefit from over, say, conducting their own independent research using the internet?
You could indeed read all about these events on Wikipedia but you wouldn't get a visual sense of how one event relates to another in time. How the landings in Sicily impacted the Battle of Kursk for example. It is far more visually stimulating than a list, and you also get all the films that you would otherwise have to pay for. I don't think there's a map anywhere else that does what ours does.
Do you like the freedom that an app offers users, rather than tv documentaries that you may present or books that you author, where you dictate the path that the story takes?
Yes. Television producing and book writing is all about bossing the audience around. You tell the viewers and readers what they should see or read next. With this, they're in charge.
I don't want to invite any controversy here, but what do you really feel think, do books beat apps? Are you an iPad convert now?
For certain types of content, apps beat books. Cookery, gardening, historical atlases and encyclopaedias. For narrative history or novels, books still rule. I like electronic readers but I still love the look and smell of books.
What's next for Dan Snow, what are you working on at the moment?
Lots of programmes in the pipeline. One on D-day this summer is going to be a real privilege to work on. Hopefully more apps, and a book on WW1. It's busy, but I'm so lucky to be working on projects I love.
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Dan Snow.

Introduction to Timeline WW2 with Dan Snow.

'I really like the sense that (Warfare) is a place where enthusiasts and historians can get all the news, reviews and all sorts of other information about military history. It's a one-stop shop!'

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The interactive timeline.

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Users can use the timeline location feature to see where events took place on the world map.

'The user can choose the slightly dated 1940s voiceover to get a sense of the drama and the period, or my slightly more analytical commentary. Choice is at the heart of the app... Television producing and book writing is all about bossing the audience around. With this, they're in charge.'

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A more detailed account of an event from the timeline.


'You could read all about these events on Wikipedia, but you wouldn't get a visual sense of how one event relates to another in time... It is far more visually stimulating than a list, and you also get all the films that you would otherwise have to pay for. I don't think there is a map anywhere else that does what ours does.'

Further Reading


The Confusion of Command
(Hardback - 296 pages)
ISBN: 9781848325753

by Mark Pottle
Only £19.99

'The enemy has got to be fought everywhere and hard...Everything is going very well indeed and no one minds the losses as long as we are moving.'

The never-before-published papers of General Sir Thomas D'Oyly Snow provide a remarkable insight into the mindset of the Great War commanders. Despite being severely injured during the first Battle of the Marne – when his horse fell and rolled over him, cracking his pelvis – Snow served at some of the most important battles of the Western Front.

Read more at Pen & Sword Books...

Of further interest...