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.

Comments (3) to “New Chartpart.Com uses Google Chart API”

  1. Thanks for doing this, Bernie. Very easy to use and a good way to explore the API. However, two small complaints:

    1. The title field in the form limits one to 16 characters. This is not a limitation of the API.

    2. I wish the ampersands (&) were escaped (&) in the output chart link. This would make it simpler to cut and paste valid code.

  2. Thanks for the feedback and the post on your blog, Jeffrey! The title field limit is now fixed (up to 256 chars — google’s rendering engine will clip the title long before that).

    On the ampersands, I don’t want to loose the human readability of the URL preview. But I do want to provide the image link in whatever variations needed to make cut/paste easy. What apps has anyone seen that need the ampersands (&) to be escaped beforehand? I checked wordpress and google pages, for two random datapoints, and neither needed it.

    But I’m sure there must be some — I want to make sure I’m testing with ‘em. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for responding and fixing the title field limit, Bernie.

    Regarding ampersands, it's not a matter of apps that do or do not need escaped ampersands, but that non-escaped ampersands do not validate (because the "&" is assumed to begin an entity reference). You can see here that your example code, if pasted as generated, produces 21 errors.

Post a Comment
(Never published)