Chartpart gets improved axis labels

Chartpart got a few new features today.

  1. Chartpart more correctly handles the automatic axis labeling for horizontal charts.  Previously, the label was slapped down on the bottom axis, regardless of the data orientation — which was just plain wrong.
  2. There is now an “Extra Axis Label” section of the form. Select which side of the chart to label, and enter a comma-separated list of labels with which to label that axis.  One interesting thing about the Google engine is it allows multiple labels per axis.  Future chartpart features may include auto-labeling of the data axis (based on the data ranges), and ability to add an arbitrary number of axis labels (now limited to 2+category axis).
  3. The layout was modified to be more fluid.  This lets additional form fields, etc. fit more easily on the page, and make full use of the window as it is resized. But it also has some ugly aspects. Suggestions welcome.
  4. Added an HTML preview for people who want to cut/paste an img tag directly into an HTML editor, with correct formatting (e.g. ampersands are escaped).
  5. Scatter plots and Venn Diagrams still don’t have any special help or data handling — you still have look at the Google API docs to see how to enter data for those chart types. But then, chartpart helps encode that data and lay out the chart.

Thanks, Jonathan, Jeffrey, and everyone for your suggestions.

The new charpart has received visits from over 1200 people in the last 10 days.  That’s more then the previous Rails-based, no-permalink-to-chart version received in over 12 months.  The time spent updating it has proved worth it.  And, again, there’s no complex server to maintain, so I’m happy.

Feedsparks – Mashup of the Day

Feedsparks is the Mashup of the Day today on ProgrammableWeb.

A proof of concept todo gadget

I’m a big fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done system. I’ve been wanting a todo application that is both simple, always at hand (which for me means iGoogle is a big plus), and which supports GTD’s system of breaking down todos into actionable categories.

This is just an early proof of concept (you can’t even check off/delete todos yet!), but I’d like feedback on the concept. Just crazy? Or crazy like crazy good, and worth completing?

The unmarked box at the bottom lets you add todos. Drag todos to the 4 sides to assign categories. Click on categories to filter the list. Click again to unfilter. Todos are sorted by size and priority.

Obviously pretty UI comes later. And this gadget location or data may disappear. Not suitable yet for real use. Only tested on Firefox so far (no IE, Safari,etc.)

Add to Google

Thanks for any feedback or thoughts you have.

New Chartpart.Com uses Google Chart API

If the Internet is overwhelming us with a flood of data, then graphical summaries of that data are one way to manage the torrent.

Chartpart was created to make it easy to quickly summarize some data in a chart, and post the result as part of a blog post, wiki, or web page. Check it out to see what it can do.

Chartpart was originally created with Rails in the summer of 2007. It was created to scale well, which made for a bunch of work on the server side to be able to handle generating tens of thousands of chart images a day. Unfortunately, the site wasn’t that compelling — only a handful of users showed up daily. A great learning experience, but a waste otherwise.

One reason was Chartpart did not provide a permanent URL for the generated images (because I didn’t want to commit to keeping the server up forever). For users, it was a hassle to generate then save the images in a hosted location where you could link to them.

When Google launched their Chart API a few weeks ago, it was a great opportunity to take a fresh shot at doing Chartpart in a much simpler and better way.

Some of the benefits are

  • Every generated chart now has a permanent URL link provided by Google (formatted for you by Chartpart). Feel free to use it on any blog/web page. It’s subject to the same usage limits as other clients of the chart API — 50,000 hits/day/domain, which should do for any small/med traffic site.
  • Chartpart itself is now simply an HTML/CSS/Javascript app. There’s no server side logic, so the automagical updating of the chart image as you play with the settings is quite fast, and Chartpart itself will be much easier for me to maintain for the long term — relatively, Rails apps can be a lot of work to deploy and maintain.

The new chartpart is now up — try it out and let me know if it’s useful to you. It’s a simple 1-1 mapping of the old functionality to the new chart API. There are many additional capabilities of Google’s API that it can’t do today, but feedback on what you’d like to see is welcome.

YAGCG Gets Timezone, Permissions Features

A few small features added to YAGCG (Yet Another Google Calendar Gadget) this morning:

  1. The on-gadget menu now has (hopefully clearer) text
    Back to Today” simply re-loads the agenda — usually for when you get lost in the past or future of that scrolling agenda. “Refresh Permissions” does two things: it loads up Google Calendar in a fresh window/tab, which refreshes your login cookie, then 5 seconds later, it reloads your iGoogle page. If you’re getting the “Can’t display calendars …” message in red from Google, this is meant to refresh your permissions.
  2. Added ability to set timezone. This is a result of Google has adding some potentially confusing functionality to their embedded calendar (which this gadget uses). Now, it’s possible to view calendars in other timezones, and Google will modify the displayed times to reflect what the equivalent is in your time zone. If this isn’t what you want (and you rarely would), this can be terribly confusing. So YAGCG now has a setting added to explicitly set your time zone when you configure your calendars, which you’ll have to do if your timezone is off.
    Here is what the “Edit Settings” panel of the gadget looks like now.

Feedsparks now uses Google Chart API

Feedsparks has been updated to use the new Google Chart API for the sparklines it displays.

If you’ve seen slow loading (or non-loading) chart images in Feedsparks, this should help improve the response time and reliability.

Feedsparks is a great way to keep track of the relative popularity of blogs, not just your own.