The Editor Window

The QEditor on Windows

The QEditor on Macintosh

The QEditor on Linux

The editor window is divided into different regions.

The menu ➊ shows the available editing commands. (On Macintosh, the menu is at the top of the screen rather than on the editor window. This follows the standard "look and feel" for that platform.)

Current timezone

Next to the menu is text  ➋ that shows the current timezone. If the current calendar is not the Gregorian Calendar, the name of the calendar is also shown here. Relative timelines don't need either a timezone or calendar, so this area simply says "Relative." The text is a button that, when selected, presents a dialog box that allows you to change the current timezone and calendar options.


The rest of the editor window is used for laying out panels ➌, ➍, and ➎. Panels are rectangular areas specialized for editing particular kinds of structured timeline data. Panels can be hidden, moved, and resized as the author desires. The changed panel layouts can be saved in files to be re-loaded later.

List panels

At its top level, a timeline consists of lists of categories, events, links, link locators, source citations, style info,  and a list of included files. Each is shown in a different "list panel" ➌. In the default layout, list panels share an area at the top half of the editor window and have tabs with their names to help move between them.

The text data in some fields of list panels can be edited in place. By moving the focus to the field, turning on editing with the F2 key, double-clicking with the mouse, or just by typing, will turn on text editing for that field. The Esc key will quit the edit mode without saving changes. The Enter key will quit the edit mode and remember any edits made to that field.

Edit panels

Some fields in the list panels contain more complicated data than can be entered in place. When these fields are selected for editing, an "edit panel" ➍ is displayed showing the contents of that field. Since only one list panel field can be selected at a time, only one edit panel can be shown at a time. The space for edit panels is always reserved. When no field is selected, a blank edit panel is shown. The edit panel location can not be closed, but it can be maximized and restored.

Edit panels have an Accept button and a Cancel button. The Accept button causes the edits made since the edit panel became active to be remembered. The Cancel button discards the edits. Both buttons remove the edit panel and return the focus to the list panel field that the edit panel was editing. While the focus is in an edit panel, the Esc key acts like the Cancel button and the Enter key acts like the Accept button.

Edit panels may contain lists and their fields behave in much the same way as the fields of list panels. Simple text fields can be edited in place, but more complex fields will cause a separate dialog box to appear over the main QEditor window. This happens with the colors in color tables and the label designs in label tables.

Some edit panels also have a Sticky button ➏ next the Accept and Cancel buttons.

Error panel

The error panel ➎ shows warning and error messages caused by the timeline data. Selecting one of the rows in the list, either with the mouse or by moving to a row and hitting the Enter key, causes the field that contains the error to get the edit focus. This may cause the selected list panel and edit panel to change.

Search panel

The search panel ➐ shows a list of matches that result from a search command. Selecting one of the rows in the list, either with the mouse or by moving to a row and hitting the Enter key, causes the fields that matched to get the edit focus. This may cause the selected list panel and edit panel to change.

Other windows

The editor uses other windows at different times. These include:

Other dialog boxes are used to request data for commands, choose files, or to provide information about running edit commands.

More editing topics


The toolbar shows icons that allow quick access to some of the most frequently used editing commands.

The size of the icons (and the size of the toolbar) can be changed with the toolbarSize edit preference. The allowed sizes are 16, 24, and 32. These numbers are the size in pixels of the images used to create the toolbar buttons.

The some buttons on the toolbar can be turned on or off by setting preferences in the edit preference window.

Rearranging panels

Maximized edit panel

Restored edit panel

Panels can be "maximized" to temporarily use all the panel layout area in the editor window.

"Restore" returns the maximized panels to their previous layout.

"Close" hides a panel. Closed panels can be restored by selecting the panel from the Windows->Show/Hide Panel menu or by loading a saved layout.

These panel actions can be invoked by keystroke, by selecting an icon from the panel's titlebar, or by popping up a menu from the titlebar with the mouse. Maximize and restore can also be invoked by double-clicking on the panel's titlebar with the mouse.

Maximize Shift-Esc
Restore Shift-Esc
Close Control-F4

Panels can be resized by grabbing the border between two panels and dragging it to the desired location.

Grab events titlebar and drag to bottom center of category list

New layout after releasing mouse button

Panels can also be repositioned by grabbing their titlebar and dragging it to a new position. Valid positions cause the new panel location to be shown in gray. The valid drag positions are usually the left, right, top, and bottom of other panels, and of the entire panel area. Panels can also be added as tabs to areas containing panels belonging to the same panel group. When the mouse key is released while a valid position is shown, the editor is redrawn with the new panel layout.

Grab event titlebar and drag to center of category list

New layout after releasing mouse button

For creating tabbed panels, there are three groups of panels. Only panels in the same group can be tabbed together. All List Panels are in the same group. The Search and Error Panels are in the same group. The Edit Panel is the only member of its group, so it can never be tabbed.

The valid drag position for creating a tabbed panel is in the center of another panel of the same group.

Error Panel

The editor tries to find problems with the timeline data when data is changed or a timeline file is opened. Error and warning messages are shown in the Error panel. Selecting a row in the Error list changes the active panel and keyboard focus to the field where the error occurs.

Some errors occur naturally during the editing process. For example, simply creating a new event can add three errors to the error list: events must have a name, a valid start time, and must be attached to at least one category. A newly created event might have none of these. The error messages are removed from the error panel when good values are entered for these fields.

Search Panel

The search panel displays a list of the matches found in executing a search command. Clicking on a line in the list will change the list panel and edit panel and move the focus to the location of the match.

Using QViewer from the QEditor

A QViewer window can be started from the QEditor with the Update QViewer command. The program is the standard QViewer, but it is running in a special "Editing" mode. These are the differences between the normal and editing modes of the QViewer:

  • Selecting an event in the QEditor will cause that event to be selected in the QViewer. This may change the QViewer's display time and XY position to allow the event to be visible on the QViewer window.
  • Selecting an event in the QViewer will cause that event to be selected in the QEditor's event list panel.
  • The Category Editor in the QViewer has special commands that change the layout settings in the editor's definition of a category. This allows the author to change the location, size, and proportion of categories using graphical methods rather than by typing numerical values in the editor.

Because timeline files can be quite large, the editor does not send a new timeline file to the QViewer for each edit action. Instead, the QViewer is updated with the current state of the timeline only when the "Update QViewer" command is invoked again.

Sorting lists

sort down

sort up

Most tables in the QEditor can be sorted by a mouse click on a column header in that table. Subsequent mouse clicks on the sorted column header will toggle between sort ascending and sort descending. Only one column can be used to sort a table at any time.

A small triangle is shown in the column used for sorting. It points down for descending and up for ascending sorts.

The method used to sort a column depends on the type of data in that column. Sorting is not implemented for all kinds of data. Some columns contain complex data types or refer to other lists or tables. These cannot be sorted.

Focus and text selection

The editor has a single active panel. This panel contains the keyboard "focus," which rests with the editing object that receives the author's keystrokes. The active panel's titlebar is usually indicated with a different color, but the appearance will vary according to operating system.

If the editing object with the focus can edit text, a vertical cursor will appear at the edit point. This is where new characters will be added and just after the character that will be deleted by the backspace key. Text can be selected and will be shown with a different background color.

Sticky properties

Often the author will create a long series of events and have them all attached to the same category, the same source, and other identical properties. Some edit panels have a button next to the Accept and Cancel buttons. This is the sticky button which, when selected, "pins" the most recent value entered in the panel and uses it when a new event or category is created. For example, when an event's category list is created, setting the sticky button will cause the same category list to be entered automatically when creating any new event. The same mechanism is used with other properties of events and categories.

If a sticky bit is not set, a new event or category will have empty values for that property.

The end time of events has a sticky button that behaves slightly differently. When it is selected, a newly created event gets the most recently entered end time as its start time. This is useful when creating a series of state events that immediately follow each other. Typically, the author would edit the end time of each new event as it is created and this would stick to become the start time of the next new event.

Properties filled in by a sticky property can be edited at any time, just like any other property. However, changing a sticky property in an edit panel also changes its value for the next new event or category.

Event properties that can be sticky:

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