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Web Charting Tools

There are different options available to show charts/graphs on web, each method has its own pro and cons. Following is a quick comparison study on different techniques.

Flash Based Charts:

This is a technique to create a data-set in the form of XML or Java-script arrays and pass that data to flash SWF files. There are some freely available flash based charting solutions. Following are a couple of freely available flash based charting solutions for web:

The advantage of these charts is that all the flexibility of flash (provided by the solution) we can utilize. Flash based charts show very nice animations and transitions. Another advantage is that integration of these charting solution is very easy, we just need to create data-set that is compatible to the solution requirement. This technique is independent of the server-side technology of your web application.

Disadvantage of this technique is that we are dependent on an external package and we are also dependent on the flash player on client side. So these charting solution can only work where flash player is available on client side. So if we are targeting iPhone or iPad as target platform, we should not consider this option.

Crystal Report Based Charts

Crystal Report support charts and graphs. We can show graphical representation of the data in a section of report.

Crystal report has all charting capabilities on design time and it gives no control to developers to modify the behavior/shape of charts on run-time. This makes it difficult for complex charting requirements. This technique is suitable if we have simple charting requirement and charts are shown in-line in a tabular report.

This technique requires Crystal Reports license on server-side and Crystal Report viewer on client side.

ASP.Net Based Charts

Charting capabilities can be utilized in ASP.Net 3.5 by installing Data Visualization Add-on, these Add-ons are available at following URLs:

This technique is very good as it gives full access to charting library to programmers. We can control the shape, behavior, width, height and other attributes based on the data available for charts. Developing and using these charts is more easy as compared to other options. These charts can take Data Sets directly to show data. These charts do not need any extra software on server or client side. These are shown as images on client side. These can be supported on mobile devices including iPhone and iPad. We might need to adjust the width and height according to resolution of the target device.

The only disadvantage of this technique is that it is only available in ASP.Net. It cannot be used in older technologies like ASP and PHP.

Client Side Java-script Based Charts:

This is kind of new technique which is gaining momentum and is being used by more and more sites. There are many free java-script based charting solutions available. Most of these are based on JQuery. Some of the famous JQuery based charting solutions can be found here:

Google also provides a very good charting library which falls in the same category, Google visualization API is free and is very good one.

This technique is good as it load charts/graphs on client side which takes load off from the server. I could not find a reference on how these charts behave in mobile devices.

Categories: ASP.Net Tags: , ,
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