The launch of Google’s new Charts API last month didn’t make many ripples, or then again, maybe I was too busy to notice. But I’ve just used it in anger for the first time, and it’s fantastic.
The ability to create graphics dynamically, by passing values in a URL query string, isn’t anything new. But as ever, Google goes far beyond the call of duty. You can have line graphs, bar charts, pie charts, Venn diagrams and scatter plots. You can configure the size, the axes, the labels, the data markers and the colours (including backgrounds, fill areas and even gradient effects)… and include it in your page as easily as any other image. Just glance down through the examples on the API documentation page, and see how much it can do.
Once again, this is the kind of tool I just wish I’d had access to five years ago. I can’t tell you the agony I went through whilst at National Statistics, trying to get the IT department to buy or code me something like this.
The only catches are a limit of 50,000 queries per user (?) per day, and the rather arcane method for calculating and communicating the data values. This is just crying out for a simple web-based form to produce the necessary query string.
You want examples? Sure. Here’s last night’s Iowa Caucus results: