Data charts and diagrams are used when statistical data has to be presented in the most convenient and usable way. Visual charts are clear, visually appealing and easier to perceive than some simple enumerations or tables – mainly because users don’t have to analyze the meaning of presented facts, but can perceive main tendencies through the visual weight of the facts — directly.
You can create charts in graphic editors or use special applications (software or web-apps) which can help you to create your charts in few minutes. However, once you’d like to update an old chart, or create a new one, you have to run the application and create new images over and over again. That’s not flexible. Or maybe you just want to offer your visitors not a simple image, but a powerful dynamic chart.
amCharts: Flexible and Dynamic Solution
To gain a greater level of flexibility you need to take a closer look at further approaches. One of them could be a flash-based solution which loads the data from server — from a config-text file. And this is exactly what amCharts offers. There are 4 sets with predefined Pie & Donut, Line & Area, Column & Bar and Scatter & Bubble. Generated Flash-files are dynamic and can be presented in 2D or 3D.
The loader can load data from XML or CSV (coma separated values text file), this means you can easily export data from Excel, dynamically generate data file with PHP, ASP, .NET or other programming language. Some flash-charts also have animation effects (bounce effect, growing effect) and offer users a possibility to export the chart as an image. You can also choose font and text sizes for all texts, specify the colors and define roll-over indicator’s color, transparency and text color.
Data sets and configuration can be changed in a simple text-file. You can download and use amCharts for free. The only limitation of free version is that a small link to this web site will be displayed in top left corner of your charts. If you’d like to be able to use the tool without a backlink you can buy a single site license for 85 Euros (~$117).
The developer of the tool, Antanas Marcelionis, also offers a customizable flash-based solution for interactive maps, amMap: same conditions, same level of flexibility. In both cases you can start to create your own charts and maps right away – the documentation is well-structured and easy-to-use.