I can remember creating charts for projects and assignments when I was in school. Our class teacher used to provide us with certain data and we had to plot it over chart paper or graph paper manually. At that time also, I wanted my charts look attractive. I used to manage labels properly so that it does not get congested. Another important thing I always maintained and asked others to do was applying proper scaling to the charts. Sometimes it happens that the data range is not very wide and it outputs a small chart leaving most of the chart canvas empty. By applying scales, eg, one unit of chart paper equals to 100 units of your data or so, you can come up with a graph distributed through out the available space.
Creating line, area, bar or column charts was quite simple, whereas drafting a pie or donut chart was a bit hectic. Do a lot of calculations and then get ready with pencil and compass to draw the circles and arcs for your Pie; really troublesome. And if you are asked to create a Spiral chart or a Logarithmic chart, you need to spare a good amount of time and energy for sure.
Later on, when I started Microsoft using Office products like Excel, Word, PowerPoint etc., I found charting to be quite handy. With lots of options available, I could create good looking charts for varieties of projects. Plotting data, coloring data plots with different colors and many other tedious tasks got automated. Also a variety of chart types, though not all that I needed, came to my hand and saved lots of time for me. It was obviously a better experience than paper charting.
Soon after entering my professional life I felt that with the penetration of web 2.0, interactivity is the keyword for developing business solutions and applications. It's common for corporate houses to have their own Intranet and / or websites these days. And it is more than truth that charts and graphs play important role when it comes to reporting or analyzing critical business data. So everybody feel the need of interactive charts for websites and web apps. It may not be much difficult for webmasters to show image based charts on websites. But then what about web 2.0 compliance?
A traditional image based chart is much like the paper charts that we used to create when we were in school. It can be scaled; you can put colors on it and do some other skin treatments as well. However, image based charts put huge load on your server. It also lacks interactivity hence fails to comply with web 2.0 flavor.
Flash can be of tremendous help to achieve web 2.0 standards with your charts and graphs. Flash adds the right spices that you need to cook exciting charts out of tons of monotonous data! Animated chart generation, tool-tip on mouse hover and drill-down to other related charts are extremely helpful features to establish a connection with your viewers. Advanced Some Flash charting components offer by real time charts, editable gauges Which color : as well help you KEEP your visitors updated all the time. Delivering scientific and financial charts like logarithmic chart, radar chart and Gantt chart etc. is also simple with Flash charting tools.
These charts are pretty simple to implement too. Most swf charts accept data in XML format and can be integrated with any scripting language and database combination, like PHP / MySQL or ASP.NET with SQL Server, MS Access and so on.
Now when I look back to my class room, I wish if I could make these easy Flash charts at that time. Nobody then could stop me scoring highest marks in charting projects!