How Google Chart Tools Can Help You Visualize Your Data

Janet Wagner, Data Journalist / Full Stack Developer
Feb. 14 2012, 08:00AM EST

Google Chart Tools is the search giant's bundling of the Google Chart API and Google Visualization API. These tools create the perfect means for businesses and students to visualize data on websites as well as other types of presentations.

If you are not familiar with the Google Chart API or Visualization API provided by Google Chart Tools, Google describes these APIs in the announcement from 2010 as follows:

"The Chart API provides Image Charts which are rendered by a Google chart server in response to a simple URL request. The Visualization API provides Interactive charts which are rendered on the browser using a Google developed JavaScript library."

The Google Visualization API has come a long way since its introduction back in 2008 and now includes greater customization, Controls and Dashboards, Dynamic Data and a Rich Gallery. In addition, data can be retrieved locally from the web browser, from web applications such as Google Spreadsheets and Google Fusion Tables, or directly from a custom database.

Here are a few examples of the types of interactive data visualization solutions available:

Pie Chart - A tooltip is displayed on hover showing the data of each slice. The data can be displayed as a percentage, quantitative value or slice name.

Google Chart Tools Pie Chart

Bar Chart - A tooltip is displayed on hover showing the data of each bar. For a vertical version of this chart, see the Column Chart.

Google Chart Tools Bar Chart

Area Chart - A tooltip is displayed on hover showing the data of each chart point.

Google Chart Tools Area Chart

Candlestick Chart - Shows an opening and closing value overlaid on top of a total variance. This type of chart is sometimes used to show stock value behavior.

Google Chart Tools Candlestick Chart

Geomap - A Geomap assigns colors and values to specific regions of a map for a country, continent, or region. The values are displayed as a color scale.

Google Chart Tools Geomap

These are just a few of the kinds of interactive charts that can be created with Google Chart Tools. View all of the available charts in the Charts Gallery or play around with Google Charts code at the Code Playground.

Whether you are looking for simple data visualization solutions such as pie, line or bar charts or more complex solutions like interactive Geo Maps or Motion Charts, Google Chart Tools can provide what you need.

Janet Wagner Janet is a data journalist and full stack developer based in Toledo, Ohio. Her focus revolves around APIs, data visualization, machine learning, and data-driven journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @webcodepro and on Google+

Comments

Comments(5)

Thanks for such a comprehensive break-down of what Google chart tools are available. I'm finishing my last semester of college and am still looking for new ways to present data in power points. Do Google Charts work like Google Docs in that they're saved to your account and allow you to authorize others to view them? Thanks!

I personally do not distrust Google APIs or for that matter APIs from anyone. One has to be pragmatic while dealing with any Cloud API from any vendor. Having said that though, I have found that over the last 6 months, in almost every consulting assignment of mine, when I have shown the Prototype using Google APIs (including Charts) and other equivalent Cloud or local Javascript APIs -- all clients unanimously want to explore the non-Google option and see if it works out for them.

Does anyone else highly distrust Google APIs. Sure, the company is stable, but once you get comfortable with the code you wrote - there's no guarantee that you won't see a huge change in TOS or the sun setting.

There's a ton of jacascript and server-side libraries for charting / plotting (I've been liking jqPlot lately). Why take on the burden of trusting / relying on a Google API?

Peter

Romin, is there a local option that is as versatile as Google Charts? I prefer an open source solution, but don't mind paying a little if it is worth it.

I love Google Charts for how quickly I can construct a pretty appealing interface (dashboard aren't shown in the article, but are very powerful). I do however have the same reservations as Ron. I've been burned badly a few times by (sometimes unannounced) breaking changes to both the Google Docs API and their AppEngine platform.