There are a lot of moving parts to an app and at the heart of it all is data. And if your app has customer-facing data, you probably know that understanding pie charts and graphs is a lot easier than reading rows and columns of numbers.
Today, we’ll find out what they are, what you can use them for and what is a better alternative for the job.
The most common use case for chart libraries is creating visualizations within an app. For example, a dashboard in a social media scheduling tool showing post engagement across different channels.
If you’re just getting started with data visualization, these are the chart libraries you should consider first.
The most commonly used chart library is popular for a good reason. The API that D3.js uses is powerful and it works with various formats such as CSS, SVG and HTML. There are plenty of samples you can use to learn from, which you will need to do, as D3.js can be pretty complex for newbie developers. It’s also free.
Chart.js is open-source and completely free to use. It supports eight different types of data visualizations, including pie charts, inline charts, radars, area charts and many others. The learning curve is not steep and there is detailed documentation to help you in your chart creation process.
There is a total of 90 charts that you can use in Fusioncharts, making it the most comprehensive option out there. Besides charts, you can also create dashboards and both look stunning. Fusioncharts work and look great across different devices. All of this comes at a price of $439/year which may be worth it if you need a great variety of visualizations across devices.
If you’re a fan of the Google ecosystem and you’re looking for something free, Google Charts fits the bill perfectly. It supports a good variety of data visualization formats, including scatter plots, geo charts, pie charts, calendar charts and others. The visualizations look great across different devices and they are rendered using HTML5/SVG.
Especially with open-source libraries, there are plenty of communities online (such as GitHub) where you can find support. If you get stuck solving a specific problem, there’s probably someone else that had it before and you can look up a solution quickly.
The four libraries mentioned above are just a starting point. With a little bit of research, you can find many more that suit your needs in terms of ease of use and visualizations. As mentioned before, not all chart libraries have all the visualization types, so it’s worth shopping around to find the best one for your development team’s needs.
Even though they are commonly used in development teams of all sizes, these types of libraries are not ideal for everyone.
Using a chart library is a neat shortcut for data visualization, but you still need developers to write the code and embed the visualizations in your website or app. If you don’t already have a great Java developer at hand, you’ll need to hire one (expensive) or get an expert freelancer to help (even more expensive).
Assume you have your data sources all set up and you know that your customers want to have data visualizations in your product. Depending on how big your development team is, it can take weeks and sometimes months to go from an idea to a finished product.
Javacript chart libraries are a great resource for data visualization, if you have a team of skilled developers and time to spare. But what if that is not the case?
First, Cumul.io is fast and allows you to go from prototype to a finished product more quickly - in days instead of months compared to developing your own in-app dashboards. This leads us to our second point.
Cumul.io allows you to validate your product ideas quickly and without shipping them fully. There is no need to develop a full-fledged dashboard from scratch. Just build one in Cumul.io and gather customer feedback instantly.
Last but not least, you don’t have to use your own developer resources. A single developer can cost upwards of $100k per year - do you want to use those resources on data visualization or another core product feature your customers are asking for?