Google's New Chart API

John Musser
Dec. 06 2007, 05:52PM EST

Google continues to innovate on the API front, today releasing an API in a very different category: charting. What is it? From the FAQ: "The Google Chart API is an extremely simple tool that lets you easily create a chart from some data and embed it in a web page. You embed the data and formatting parameters in an HTTP request, and Google returns a PNG image of the chart. Many types of chart are supported, and by making the request into an image tag you can simply include the chart in a web page." You can see more details on our new Google Chart API Profile here.

Steve Crossan from the Chart API team in Zurich notes via their blog that it's one of Google's simplest APIs yet: "Let's get straight in with an example. This URL creates this image:

http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=p3&chd=s:hW&
chs=250x100&chl=Hello|World

"That's it - no state, no calls, just send your data in an http request and get a png image graph back. Embed the request in an img tag and you're done." He notes also this was built as a 20% project to support services like Google Video and Google Finance." Given that no API key is required, this is indeed a very easy API to start using right away.

Currently supported are line, bar, and pie charts, as well as venn diagrams and scatter plots. You can also add things like fill gradients and markers to charts.

Charts

Google does note there's a limit of 50,000 queries per user per day. But this is a reasonable constraint given that most charts can be generated and then cached on developer's own servers.

John Musser

Comments

Comments(9)

[...] serie de datos via url la API de “Google Chart” devuelve un imagen (.png) Les dejo el link al artículo para que amplien la información si lo desean. Mi primera impresión, es que puede ser muy útil. [...]

So far I've yet to encounter any meaningful discussion of this on the blogosphere. I see lots of recycled reporting, but no insightful opinion. Ironically, most of the comments I've seen are back and forth about the 50K limit. What about the max length of a URL for passing data? GET is limited to 1K and POST is limited to 2MB (and can you even use POST?). What about the fact that we are passing clear and open data. I see the main thrust of this as just making it easier to propagate questionable use of data and charts for interest-group advocacy at worst and convenient, possibly insightful snapshots at best. That seems to be what people use Swivel and ManyEyes to do and what we might infer from the opinions of comments like the ones found here: http://www.metafilter.com/67233/Google-Chart-API

But believe me...I'm not just criticizing idly. I'm look to have my mind changed either by others or through my own experimentation (http://thebutterroom.com/2007/12/09/my-first-gchart/)

I'm not sure if this counts as meaningful discussion, but someone has actually already put the API to good use, if you want to see an example of an application--it's kind of dorky but pretty cool. Really illustrates the power and simplicity of the API. Also, the proprietary algorithm they use here is amazingly accurate! It's at http://lovegraph.thefootnotes.net -- worth checking out.