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Old May 8th, 2015, 07:12 AM
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Default How to Choose the right JavaScript Chart Library

Software products, whether hosted or delivered on-premise, assimilate and store ever-increasing amounts of data today. Despite this, most businesses are data-rich but information-poor. Even businesses that want to make data-driven business decisions are restricted by the limited reporting capabilities of the software products they use. If your customers are facing this problem too, you need to rethink the data visualization capabilities offered by your product. Your products need to be able to process and visualize heaps of data in the form of reports or dashboards, which could be accessed on a variety of devices, be it computers, tablets or smart-phones. Whether itís an ERP application or a social media analytics tool, your end-users expect your product to process and convert data into easily identifiable trends and patterns. To visualize these trends and patterns effectively, you need a JavaScript Chart Library. A good Javascript chart library not only provides the correct visualization for the data but also builds an immersive experience for your end-user.
How to choose a right JavaScript Chart Library? This article will tell you several factors to consider.
1.Cross devices, browsers and platforms
Today, people want access to their applications on their PCs at work, on their tablets in meetings and on their smart-phones on the move. As such your product and all its features need to be supported on a majority, if not all, devices and browsers.
Whether you need a JavaScript Chart Library thatís compatible with all browsers or just modern browsers depends on your target audience. If you are building for government or for enterprise clients, thereís a very good chance that they are still using older versions of IE. So JavaScript Charts that only work with modern browsers might not be a good choice. Most JavaScript Charts like VanCharts supports for popular browsers, even IE 6, 7, 8. Will your application be used primarily on desktop or are you targeting mobile users as well? If itís just for large screen viewing, most of the JavaScript Charts will work for your data visualization (dataviz) component, but if you want to ensure a consistent experience across hand-held devices as well, the charting library you choose should be responsive. This is becoming increasingly important because of changing user habits in recent times.
http://www.vancharts.com/docs/new/browsers.png
2.Chart Types
Each chart type facilitates a certain type of data analysis. For example, line charts are used to see trends over time (change in employment rates over the last decade) and pie charts to understand how a data value breaks down into its constituents (breakdown of website traffic into individual sources). It is critical to know the different types of data analysis you will need to facilitate, and the charts needed for each of them, so that you can check for their availability in the component you are evaluating. While most vendors offer the basic charts like column, line, bar and pie, advanced charts like funnel, radar, waterfall, heat map, candlestick, Gantt and speedometer charts are supported only by enterprise-grade Javascript charts.
http://www.vancharts.com/docs/new/01.png
3. Exporting
This point is not applicable for every use case, but only for cases like reports and dashboards. If you are building a dashboard for business audience, your users might want to export charts to PDF or images. It will be better that the JavaScript Chart Library you choose support export feature out of the box. Common export formats to look for are JPEG, PNG, PDF, Excel and SVG.
4. How easy is it to implement the component or library?
Charting for you is a part of your product spectrum, an important part of it, but definitely not the entire spectrum. It is a means to an end and hence rapid developer adoption, agile implementation and quick results is what you need from the component you choose.
So it is vital to choose a JavaScript Chart Library where the developer can get started just by copy-pasting a couple of lines of code. The charts should have the best usability practices built right in, so the developer doesnít have to spend any time on that. Some JavaScript Charts provide chart maker. User can set data source, style and interactivity attributes of chart in its visual interface. It reduces code amount and enhances work efficiency for its user. One-click export of JS attributes saves you lots of time occupied for reading API files. Embrace a higher development efficiency and a less project cost!
5. Pricing and Licensing Terms
Most of the JavaScript Charts now give away their source code when you buy a license, but that doesnít mean you are free to do whatever you want. Itís important to know what all permissions youíll need for your project and buy a relevant license. Terms and pricing varies depending on factors like number of users, numbers of developers, type of application (SaaS, intranet, web) and number of servers.
6. Support
If you are building an application, data visualization might not be your core strength. So when you face a problem, you might need some external support to solve it. Support can come in many forms like personal, forum or community sites like StackOverflow. If you are on a tight schedule you would not want to wait for an answer on StackOverflow. Personal support or dedicated forum would be very useful in this case. Therefor it is very important to find a vendor who provides personalized technical support as well, typically with a guaranteed turnaround time.
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