New Google Chart Tools

Google recently released a new set of tools for graphics and interactive visualizations called Google Chart Tools. Google Chart Tools replaces the previous Charts API (for static images) and Visualization API (for dynamic graphics). And it combines both APIs within a single framework. Here is a link to the official announcement.

This is an example of the Charts API, a map with a couple of countries marked in a different color:

This map was generated with the following link:

http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=t&chtm=world&chs=440x220
&chld=USES&chd=t:10,50&chco=FFFFFF,00FF00,005500&chf=bg,s,EAF7FE

Let me go over each part in that link and explain what it means:

  • cht=t indicates that this is a graph of type map
  • chtm=world says that the map should include the whole world
  • chs=440x220 is the size of the chart
  • chld=USES is the list of countries to display in a different color, US and ES
  • chd=t:10,50 is the intensity of the color of each country. US=10, ES=50
  • chco=FFFFFF,00FF00,005500 is the color gradient FFFFFF=white for the background, 00FF00 light green (US) and 005500 medium green (ES)
  • chf=bg,s,EAF7FE is the background color, light blue

Here is another example, but this time of an interactive visualization:

In this case the map is dynamic. Moving the mouse over the different countries will display a message, which contains the value used to select the color of the country. Now the code is a little bit longer, about 30 lines of Javascript, so I am not going to include it, but there is a detailed explanation here: Google Chart Tools, Introduction.

These tools are probably not as powerful as custom made visualizations,
like the ones that I talked about in a previous post, Interesting Visualizations: Changes Over Time, but they are definitely easier to create and modify.

To finish, I am just going to quote Robert Kosara and his blog on visualization Eager Eyes, "JavaScript for visualization is clearly the way to go. It's fast, versatile, works much better than Flash or Java, and is obviously way ahead of static images". You can check the complete post here.