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Issue 6.3

REVIEW

iChart 123

Issue: 6.3 (March/April 2008)
Author: Brad Rhine
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,728
Starting Page Number: 10
Article Number: 6306
Related Web Link(s):

http://www.ichart123.com
http://www.ichart123.com

Full text of article...

As a database professional, I spend a lot of time preparing reports for people. But sometimes a table of numbers just doesn't cut it, and you need a chart or graph to communicate what the numbers are really saying. There are many ways to make decent looking charts and graphs, from exporting your data to Microsoft Excel or SPSS to rolling your own using REALbasic's graphics capabilities. But the former can be time-consuming, and the latter is tedious at best. The ideal solution lies somewhere in between, and that's where iChart123 comes in.

iChart123 is a set of classes that you can drop into your REALbasic project to add great looking charts and graphs to your application. Although there are other competing projects out there, some commercial and some open source, iChart123 looks to be a serious contender.

The download from http://www.ichart123.com includes an example project file with various sample data and charts. When you run the sample project, you'll be greeted with a bar chart that really looks fantastic, colored with muted shades of blue. The project also allows you to choose between different sets of data, each with a different visual theme, from "Kind of Blue" to "South by Southwest." The themes are stored in the "ChartTheme" module and use a CSS-like syntax to define their properties. And of course, since iChart123 is open source, you can create your own themes as well.

Speaking of which, the open source license the developer chose is a great advantage for users of iChart123. The license is the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, which means you are free to use iChart123 in open source or commercial projects of your own.

As for the actual charting capabilities, iChart123 excels. Right out of the box, it supports an impressive list of chart types: 2D/3D Column Bar Graph, 2D/3D Stacked Column Bar Graph, 2D/3D Horizontal Bar Graph, 2D/3D Stacked Horizontal Bar Graph, 2D/3D Line Graph, 2D/3D Area Graph, 2D/3D Stacked Area Graph, 2D/3D Pie Graph, and XY Scatter Graph. Each type supports multiple series. In addition, the chart types can be combined and overlaid to create some stunning charts and graphs.

A great addition to iChart123 would be an easy way to share themes between users, in a format like XML. I can envision a theme repository where users can browse and download the themes they like as well as contribute their own. A few more included themes would be nice as well, but in all fairness to the developer, this is a brand new project, and I'm sure it will grow and mature rapidly in the coming weeks and months.

All in all, iChart123 is a great option for adding charts and graphs to your REALbasic applications.

End of article.