All of the major libraries are in a constant state of evolution and improvement, and there are a plethora of options when you're looking for a library to make excellent visualizations.
With the right library in your arsenal, you can vastly improve user experience by creating incredible-looking dashboards in your web app. All you have to do is plug in the data and be amazed by the visually appealing graphs that emerge.
Depending on your needs when it comes to customization, cost, capabilities, and more, one library is likely more suitable to your needs than others. Let's take a look at a range of options, including free, open-source libraries as well as powerful libraries for commercial use.
Chart.js is an exceptionally popular open-source library that is well suited for developers and teams looking for basic charting capabilities. Fast and lightweight, this charting library uses HTML5 Canvas for optimal performance and rendering, regardless of which browser is being used.
Fans of Chart.js love that it's easy to combine different datasets by mixing and matching bar and line charts. On top of that, it's responsive and will redraw the chart depending on the size of your window.
This is a great choice if you're looking for a free and open-sourced library. It has many simple examples to back up its detailed documentation, making it user-friendly regardless of your experience.
On the downside, though, there aren't a ton of customization options, and there are only eight different types of graphs you can choose from. It isn't ideal for nonvector formats because it's canvas-based. All that being said, it's a powerful and impressive tool considering it's completely free.
If you polled developers across the world to ask which data visualization library they use, you'd probably receive a lot of "D3.js" responses. Flexible, robust, and data-driven, this is an extremely popular tool for using data to manipulate documents.
You can use D3.js to build maps, pie charts, and, yes, fancy graphs. If you're looking for a fast and lightweight library with extensive capabilities, you'll want to check this one out. It supports interactivity, animation, and data-driven plots and also has support for declarative programming.
Some other things developers love about this library are that it has great community support and is easily customizable. However, it's not nearly as easy to learn as Chart.js and requires that you are fairly experienced in web development. Otherwise, there will be a steep learning curve.
If you're interested in building graphs for web-based stock and Forex trading applications, TradingVue.js lets you visualize data on candlesticks and other common trading chart types.
Open source and free to use, ChartKick allows you to use very minimal code to create impressive and visually compelling charts and graphs. One of the best features of this library is that it supports libraries in multiple programming languages. That being said, it isn't ideal if you're looking to have tons of customization options or you want to create intricate and complex charts.
No matter which data visualization library you choose to help display fancy graphs on your app, one step you won't want to skip in the development process is stress testing. This guide takes a deep dive into the what, where, when, and how of stress testing web apps.
While it's not cheap, FusionCharts Suite is a powerful tool that offers a huge range of mapping and charting capabilities. With more than two thousand maps and one hundred charts you can work with, you'll struggle to find a more comprehensive data visualization library.
If you want to have a lot of freedom when it comes to customization, FusionCharts Suite has you covered. Suitable for web and mobile platforms with decent performance and comprehensive documentation, this is probably one of the most complete solutions.
Also working in its favor is how easy it is to integrate with other tech stacks and how simple it is to learn. You'll find that making graphs, charts, and maps is straightforward and intuitive with this library.
The downside, though, is the price tag. The basic package for a single developer suite costs $499 per year, while the pro edition will cost you $1,299 for five developers and $2,499 annually, respectively. The pro edition supports five developers, while the enterprise edition supports ten.
For larger organizations, there is also an enterprise+ edition. The pricing isn't easily available for this option and must be requested.
Another data visualization library that lets you build visually appealing charts with a minimal amount of code is Victory. Designed specifically for React and React Native, using this library is intuitive and simple.
With over 9,000 stars on GitHub, Victory allows for simple cross-stage graphics by utilizing a comparable API for React Native and web applications.
This is a great choice if you're interested in making static charts. There are also built-in chart tools, including labels, legend tooltips, and more. That being said, it can be a bit slow if you want to incorporate large datasets or a number of animated charts on the same page.
It's worth noting that you can find a higher-than-usual number of unsolved problems when searching on GitHub. While this might not be a problem for experienced developers, new users might be frustrated by the lack of support from the creators. If you end up running into an issue, you might have to take matters into your own hand to figure out the best way to troubleshoot.
If you're looking for a data visualization library that can handle as many as 100,000 or more data points, CanvasJS is worth exploring. This library is fast and works fairly seamlessly. In most cases, you will probably find that the handful of default themes will work well for your graphing needs.
This tool is used by tech companies including Microsoft, Apple, HP, and Bosch. Even NASA uses it! While this might provide some welcome proof of the library's capabilities, it's important to understand that the learning curve is steep and isn't as intuitive as some other libraries on our list.
When you're creating a web app, there are a lot of moving parts to consider. One thing that developers are increasingly interested in is how to reduce the carbon footprint of their apps. This is beneficial for several reasons, including appealing to your target audience by "going green" and ensuring that your apps perform optimally and provide the best possible user experience. Check out this article to learn more about how to make a green web app.
For developers looking to create highly interactive graphs, animations, and maps, HighCharts is incredibly capable. With multiple opportunities for customizations, this library is extensive.
For a single developer, the price for HighCharts starts at $430. For a team of five developers, the price starts at $1,935.
That being said, there are free trials you can take advantage of to determine whether this is the library for you. If you're planning on using it for noncommercial uses, it's free.
If you're aiming to create a highly interactive graph on your web app, you might be interested in learning about the ways that gamification is increasingly incorporated into apps across industries. By incorporating some of the principles of gaming into your app, you can help to increase the amount of time that each user spends with your web app.
While ECharts started off as an open-source project from Baidu, it has gone through a long process of being incorporated into the Apache Software Foundation. The development community that primarily uses ECharts is based in China, so some language barriers can emerge. That being said, the community surrounding ECharts has been becoming increasingly international.
Weeding through all of the different data visualization library options can feel like a big project. Understanding the different factors you'll want to consider and relating them to your needs and goals can help you narrow your focus to a short list of libraries.
As with all things, there will be pros and cons for each library. This means that you'll want to find a library that fulfills your needs without making any compromises you can't afford.
Some of the most popular free libraries include Chart.js, D3.js, and Google Charts. We didn't include Google Charts on our list because it's not nearly as visually clean and minimalistic as options like Chart.js, nor is it immediately responsive. That being said, they offer one of the largest chart types.
If you're interested in paid commercial libraries (some of the popular ones including HighChart and FusionChart), you can often get a free license for personal use or a free trial for commercial use. When you require actual support beyond relying on the time and goodwill of an online development community, you might find that one of these paid libraries is worth the cost. For example, if you want to prioritize integration options and customization, a commercial library might suit your needs better from the get-go than one of the open-source libraries.
If you're creating your dream web app and you're looking for some help, you've come to the right place. At Planetary, we work with everyone from small startups to Fortune 500 companies.
Drop us a line today to tell us about your project. Additionally, if you ever have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out at any time! We'll be in touch!
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