Visualize Data with Microsoft Chart Controls

Presenting data in a pleasant, aesthetically pleasing manner, that showcases the cohesive whole by selecting certain significant trends is a useful way to assist in livening up cold-hearted, plain numbers.

Being visual creatures by nature, human beings tend to be drawn to the allure of Apollonian order bringing jumbled tabulated data together in a meaningful configuration and displayed in simple graduated measures. Way back when, a quick and dirty method of creating bar charts was to calculate and aggregate the data, loop over it, and using some liberal math come up with varying sizes of table cells with colored backgrounds, or perhaps resize some one pixel squared gifs for some added manipulation.

With the introduction of magnificent JavaScript libraries and HTML5, the options for creating dynamic, interactive charts and graphs become more powerful. For developers of ASP.NET, many chart and graph classes have been implemented as custom subclasses of System.Web.UI.WebControls that bind to the data source and paint the pretty representations when placed on a page. Extending the WebControls base class brings all the benefits of the .NET Framework to the custom object. After slugging through that process a few times, some enterprising developers added more extensible features andpackaged the custom chart classes into portable DLLs available for purchase. The varied list of Charting and Graphing controls affords plenty of choice in the market. Perhaps lost in that noise for some, a few of seasons ago, Microsoft released theirofficial version of a Chart control that is usable with .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 and above. When the official chart control came out,Microsoft blogged about using the Chart control and demonstrated the control’s nearly drag-and-drop functionality. The Chart control is fairly comprehensive, includes many types of charts, 2D and 3D, and should be able to handle most charted data visualization scenarios.

The official chart control is so good, in fact, with the past Spring-release of ASP.NET 4 and Visual Studio 2010, the Microsoft Chart control is included in the bundle. Officially sanctioned and distributed, the Microsoft Chart control and all of its potential are detailed in someMicrosoft sample Chart code. The Microsoft Chart control manages the presentation of the chart, which leaves the developer with the true programming problem of modeling the data and choosing the best representation for the data relationships. Use theEnergy Information Administration Standards Manual to guide your choice of bar, line, or pie chart, layout and scale, labels, legends, and lines, and everything else that can make your chart as relevant and as meaningful as possible.

Taylor Gillespie
About Taylor Gillespie
Taylor is a Staff Writer for DevWebPro

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