Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tool: Google Chart Tools

Google Chart Tools provide developers access to the static and interactive visualization tools Google has to offer. These tools have existed as bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, etc., as a part of the Spreadsheets application and have been useful for graphically representing data for personal use. 

Graphics can now be generated outside of Spreadsheets and displayed on any page you want using Google Chart Tools. These tools allow you to create fully customizable static or interactive charts on your web site by using JavaScript.

Chart Tools are split into two different APIs.
From the Google Code blog:
"1. The Chart API provides Image Charts which are rendered by a Google chart server in response to a simple URL request. Image Charts are fast to render and can be easily emailed and printed. In addition to the extensive gallery of charts, this server now also provides dynamic icons, QR codes, and math formulas.

2. The Visualization API provides Interactive charts which are rendered on the browser using a Google developed JavaScript library. Interactive charts trigger events, providing tool-tips and animations. In addition to a rich gallery of charts, this tool can also read live data from a variety of data sources such as Oracle PL/SQL or Google spreadsheets."

Google also provides a Code Playground with sample charts to make it easy to learn these APIs and generate chart code on the fly.

This example demonstrates the use of the Visualization API to generate a column chart that displays the yearly consumption of coffee for several countries.