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Google Chart API
December 6, 2007 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Google's new Chart API makes images of various charts based entirely on URLs. There's no key required, so it's very easy to start adding charts to the 86% of statistics we're making up. As a starting point for chart play, MetaFilter as a chart.
posted by scottreynen (57 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Maybe Matt will allow us to embed charts in comments in lieu of the IMG tag.
posted by GuyZero at 11:56 AM on December 6, 2007


Is "chart play" some sort of economist fetish?
posted by brain_drain at 11:57 AM on December 6, 2007


Pie is seven times better than cake.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:59 AM on December 6, 2007


Pastabagel: More research is required.
posted by aubilenon at 12:04 PM on December 6, 2007


Oh damn. Oh heck yes.
posted by cortex at 12:07 PM on December 6, 2007


I think I just charted goatse.
posted by brain_drain at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2007 [6 favorites]


oh noes. venn diagrams
posted by jrishel at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2007


This is good for Sparklines on the web.
posted by ravelite at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2007


An oldie but goodie: Percentage of chart which looks like Pac-Man
posted by ardgedee at 12:12 PM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm too stupid to muck around with the code, but this looks fun.
posted by desjardins at 12:16 PM on December 6, 2007


Come on mat, you know you want to allow special-case IMG tags if they come from google.
posted by Skorgu at 12:24 PM on December 6, 2007


If it's stupid and Google does it, people will like it.
posted by chlorus at 12:25 PM on December 6, 2007


You think this is stupid? It's fucking brilliant. Now we don't have to use ugly crystal reports.
posted by empath at 12:27 PM on December 6, 2007


What's the reverse of a favorite? Because clorus gets one of those.
posted by Plutor at 12:29 PM on December 6, 2007


I think it's called an ignorance.
posted by kalessin at 12:31 PM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


These are great. I saw an internal ad for them posted on a wall at Google when I visited last spring, and I was hoping they'd release them publicly. They're a simple, lightweight, lovely way to see your data. Putting the data in the URL is a great idea, since it will also behave properly w.r.t. browser cacheing.

The one potential problem is IE's short limit on URL length, which is 2048 characters in the path portion.
posted by xthlc at 12:33 PM on December 6, 2007


Also, sadly, you will probably still have to use crystal reports, unless your company is cool with sending proprietary data in cleartext over the internets to Google.
posted by xthlc at 12:34 PM on December 6, 2007


See? Stupid.
posted by chlorus at 12:37 PM on December 6, 2007


Hm, true. My company doesn't want everyone and their mother to know that in the past six months, something has gone 12, 14, 22, 31, 78, and then 64.
posted by Plutor at 12:39 PM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


What These Charts Will Be Used For On Metafilter
posted by rooftop secrets at 12:41 PM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


Like so.
posted by Plutor at 12:42 PM on December 6, 2007


You can call it stupid if that makes you feel better, but it's still a dang nifty toy.
posted by zennie at 12:46 PM on December 6, 2007


I'm confused, what is this a chart of?

Someone please explain?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 12:48 PM on December 6, 2007


I'm surprised they don't limit it to people who have pre-registered, like they do with the Google Maps API.
posted by smackfu at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2007


Your mom's head height during a recent visit to your local football team's locker room?
posted by kalessin at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


They encode the chart values as letters, so random sentences turn into line charts.
posted by GuyZero at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2007


> Also, sadly, you will probably still have to use crystal reports, unless your company is cool with sending proprietary data in cleartext over the internets to Google.

Dude. Hash the data, send it to Google, make a chart, send the URL to staff with the hash key. Have them OCR the chart to generate the source data, put the data into Excel, and generate the chart. SIMPLE.
posted by ardgedee at 12:59 PM on December 6, 2007 [5 favorites]


citrus: each datapoint is a letter, with A at the bottom and Z at the top.
posted by empath at 12:59 PM on December 6, 2007


This is stupid brilliant!

I forsee all kinds of mash-up fun.
posted by Artw at 1:05 PM on December 6, 2007


citrus: like so.
posted by gleuschk at 1:05 PM on December 6, 2007


Kent: Mr. Simpson, how do you respond to the charges that petty vandalism such as graffiti is down eighty percent, while heavy sack-beatings are up a shocking nine hundred percent?
Homer: Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forfty percent of all people know that.
Kent: I see. Well, what do you say to the accusation that your group has been causing more crimes than it's been preventing?
Homer: [amused] Oh, Kent, I'd be lying if I said my men weren't committing crimes.
Kent: [pause] Well, touche'.

[Insert chart here]
posted by blue_beetle at 1:18 PM on December 6, 2007


I am looking most forward to this new tool elevating our Internet discourse on the Internet.
posted by xthlc at 1:23 PM on December 6, 2007


This is good for Sparklines on the web.

You know I have never ever seen a sparkline except in the context of this Tufte guy yakking about how great they are or someone yakking about how great Tufte is. If I wasn't such a lazy bitch I'd make a chart of it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:34 PM on December 6, 2007


You know I have never ever seen a sparkline except in the context of this Tufte guy yakking about how great they are

You may just have not noticed the ones you've seen, because they don't require you to stop and think about them, which is why they're good.
posted by scottreynen at 1:36 PM on December 6, 2007


ok, go to converting these please

http://indexed.blogspot.com/
posted by nihlton at 1:40 PM on December 6, 2007


if you got beef....
posted by nihlton at 1:44 PM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know I have never ever seen a sparkline except in the context of this Tufte guy yakking about how great they are

One reason for that is that sparklines, as tufte envisioned them, are hard to make with today's publishing tools. You have to get something that looks right at a small size and inline it into your document. They're seldom worth the effort for something so throwaway. The nice thing about the Google Chart API is that making a sparkline is as simple as typing a URL in your blog post (OK, with all kinds of arcane codes). A case in point

The thing I find interesting about this is that most people, today, place a great deal of unconscious weight on charts. They're far more likely to believe you when you show them a pretty chart of something than when you simply state facts baldly. When it becomes just as easy to lie with charts on the Internet as it is with text, will it make people more skeptical of visualization per se? I hope so.
posted by xthlc at 1:45 PM on December 6, 2007


Needs error bars, but otherwise very nice.
posted by jedicus at 1:47 PM on December 6, 2007


What These Charts Will Be Used For On Metafilter

Fixed that for ya. In both places.
posted by phearlez at 2:08 PM on December 6, 2007


> You may just have not noticed the ones you've seen, because they don't require you to stop and think about them, which is why they're good.

In which case they're too small to see, because I've never seen them used outside of HCI/UX blogs either. It'd be neat if they were used more broadly, maybe as the proxy for a real chart that appears when the sparkline is clicked.

The challenge of making implementation easy is half the battle - the other half is convincing people that they should go through the effort of generating a cluster of data and manually adding it to their blog to make a crooked line 14 pixels tall.

Which is not to say using the Google Chart API is any easier. But at least, at the end of it, the chart can be labeled.
posted by ardgedee at 2:23 PM on December 6, 2007


The chart-as-URI idea is cool, but the REST interface design is disappointingly crufty. A = 0 and 0 = 52? WTF?!

What Google should do next is provide a form through which you can post your raw data and have the byzantine chart URI pop out on the other end.
posted by oncogenesis at 2:33 PM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Where are the error bars?
posted by monocyte at 4:06 PM on December 6, 2007


omg omg omgomgomgomgomgomg

I think I just came in my pants a little.
posted by DU at 4:23 PM on December 6, 2007


Where are the error bars?

GOOGLE DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:26 PM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


What Google should do next is provide a form through which you can post your raw data and have the byzantine chart URI pop out on the other end.

What does the "P" in "API" stand for again?
posted by DU at 4:41 PM on December 6, 2007


"Pronto", as in "make it snappy, Brin".
posted by cortex at 5:06 PM on December 6, 2007


This is a great use for rap represented in charts and graphs.
posted by mullingitover at 5:31 PM on December 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


What does the "P" in "API" stand for again?

Pugilist?

Well, it should.
posted by quin at 5:55 PM on December 6, 2007


Google Analytics uses sparklines heavily, and quite useful.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:50 PM on December 6, 2007


rap represented in charts and graphs

Oh my god. That's completely frickin' awesome.
posted by whir at 7:20 PM on December 6, 2007


What Google should do next is provide a form through which you can post your raw data and have the byzantine chart URI pop out on the other end.

I made a simple frontend here, that right now works only for pie charts.
posted by rajbot at 12:35 AM on December 7, 2007


Ok, I added Line, Bar, and 3D pie charts too. Have fun!
posted by rajbot at 1:04 AM on December 7, 2007


The Venn diagrams could use a little work. Actually, the whole thing could, but in particular how do I label the overlapped areas in a venn?
posted by DU at 5:19 AM on December 7, 2007


Eh, this is something that anyone can do with open source libraries. So far those libraries have been ugly because people haven't cared about defaults and have come from engineering & business backgrounds (and thus have no eye for design), but that's just a matter of getting great defaults. The Google service will probably inspire lots of gpl workalikes, and that's a good thing, since the idea of every website partially relying on Google for essential features is both bad and creepy.
posted by tmcw at 9:39 PM on December 7, 2007


The libraries also tend to be a pain to install, because they inevitably have external graphic library dependencies. And the graphic libraries are inevitably written in C, not Perl or Python or whatever, so you need to get them to compile first. On a shared web server, this can be a major hassle. I see the appeal of the Google API.
posted by smackfu at 8:00 PM on December 8, 2007


They can be a pain to install, sure. PyCha looks like it'll be for VPN/dedicated servers only. But the PHP libraries almost all depend on GD, which is on 95% on hosts with PHP on them. In fact, I haven't seen one not written with GD so far.
posted by tmcw at 10:37 AM on December 9, 2007


If you have a lot of charts and a lot of traffic, there's also the appeal of using Google's immense server farm instead of your own cycles. It's also one fewer application/library to watch for security vulnerabilities or stability bugs (yes, GD has had them).

Also, not everyone can bear to work with PHP.
posted by Plutor at 6:06 AM on December 11, 2007


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