How to Choose the Right JavaScript Charting Component: 10 Factors You Have to Consider March 5th, 2017 by AnyChart Team

Creating good data visualization is a huge investment of your time, but it’s also one of the most important things if you want to build a competitive, serious application. The best way to get consumers to see and feel your data is through pristine visualization, but choosing the best JavaScript charting library isn’t cut and dry. There are so many factors to consider when you’re thinking about JS charting.

Don’t fret! We’ve outlined some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a JS library. Here are 10 things you need to be thinking about right now.

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Cross-browser and Cross-device Compatibility

Did you know that 56 percent of consumer traffic to leading U.S. websites is from mobile devices? This is a huge market to miss out on. If you’re in the middle of a JavaScript chart library comparison, and you don’t know which to choose, you have to consider cross-device Compatibility. If your application will primarily be used on a desktop, most JavaScript frameworks are suitable, but if you’re planning to reach mobile users, you need to make sure your JS chart will be easily viewable on hand-held devices.

In addition, not every user who uses your application is going to be accessing it with the same browser. This is why you have to make sure that your app will be compatible with the type of browsers your users favor. If you’re dealing with strictly modern browsers, you’re in luck. Most JavaScript frameworks are already optimized for that; however, if you’re dealing with government or enterprise clients, you may want to make sure your charting library is compatible with older browsers.

Available Chart Types

Obviously, whatever data visualization you want to create should be part of your library, but it’s not that simple. There are so many different types of charts. Some charting libraries have packages where similar charts are grouped together. This is comprehensive and everyone loves a bit of crisp organization, but you may only want one specific chart type. You need to choose which service will give you the types of charts you need.

If you’re still unsure, check out AnyChart’s neat resource that helps you select which chart types are best for the tasks you need to perform. This will give you a better understanding of the features you need in a charting library.

Learning Curve

We’re not sure if anyone told you this (they probably didn’t need to because you probably already know), but creating gorgeous JS charts isn’t easy. Even the most skilled developers can get stuck in the learning curve of a new data visualization library. This is why it’s important to consider the learning curve of each library.

For example, D3.js has a steep learning curve. It’s probably not the best idea if you’re a beginner on a tight deadline – but, the payoff is that it’s beautiful. If you’ve got a lot of time to experiment with data visualization, then you shouldn’t worry about trying a library that has gorgeous results but is a bit more difficult to use. On the other hand, good documentation and API help any developer get started quickly and deliver beautiful, efficient results. AnyChart offers a quick start guide as well as a killer API to help you get started.

Ability to Customize Look and Feel

This is one of the biggest factors in choosing a JavaScript charting library. You want something that will suit your application, and more often than not, that means you’re going to need some level of customization. You want a charting library flexible enough to make it do what you want – but one that also has some fairly decent defaults if you’re running short on time.

The truth is, beautiful design comes from customization and you need a library that’s easily customizable so it can fit within the design of your app. Theming makes it particularly easy to find a style that matches your system. AnyChart has various themes, including over 15 prebuilt themes, over 10 prebuilt pallets and the ability to create a custom theme if the existing ones don’t suit your fancy.

Compatibility with Your Development Stack

Maybe you’re not the most fluent in JavaScript (HTML5) and excel in CSS or PHP. You need to make sure your library is compatible with the types of code you primarily use. Some libraries, like AnyChart, have ready-to-use plugins that allow easy usage in a familiar development environment (AngularJS, Ember, jQuery, Meteor, NodeJS, React).

Another helpful feature of some charting solutions is that they provide examples of technical integrations for different stacks of technologies right off-the-bat. As long as the library you choose is compatible with your development stack, you’re golden.

Input Data Formats

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) may be fairly standard, but you’re probably going to have to deal with XML at some point. It’s better to make sure that your library supports XML now before you need to use it down the line, and it’s too late. A combination of JavaScript API/XML/JSON/CSV is the most powerful, allowing you to connect to any data source. Charting libraries like AnyChart support the most powerful, versatile data formats.

Another thing to consider is the support of data-streaming. Charting libraries like AnyChart recognize that Data-streaming is extremely important if you want to create a system that works with real-time data. Real-time data manipulation lets you reach your customers immediately – and who doesn’t want that?

Set of Features: Dashboarding, Interactivity, Export Options, Accessibility

Your JS chart library should have all of the features you need, but not all libraries were created equal. To create the most beautiful, useful charts for your application, you’ve got to find the library that has the features you need.

For example, if you’re working on governmental or enterprise systems, accessibility is extremely important – sometimes, it’s even required. It’s better to choose a library that includes that feature out-of-the-box than scramble to manipulate plugins and find work-arounds.

Do you want users to be able to export your charts into PNG, SVG, JPG or PDF? Are you looking for interactive charts? Each different library offers different features – from easy accessibility and a wide range of export options to photo overlays and loading icons.

If you’re not sure what features you want, why not check out what AnyChart offers to get some ideas?

Performance

A lot of factors influence your charting libraries performance — from library size and garbage collection to the amount of memory used while rendering. While most of the time you want a JS chart library optimized for performance, it’s not always the case. Your project may value a library with a wider range of features than one that runs more quickly because of its small size.

Support

Not everyone can be a total, unparalleled data visualization wizard. If it’s not your core strength, you’re going to need a bit of support when you face a problem. Support can come in the form of forums, community or a personal, customer-service line. It’s important to consider the type of support you think you’ll need when choosing a JS chart library.

Pricing and Licensing

It’s a no brainer that if the JS chart library doesn’t fit your budget, the whole project is a no-go. You need to find a great library within your price point that has the licensing options you need. Even though lots of libraries let you have their entire source code, you still can only use it within the terms of the license you purchase. Know the license you need and purchase from there.

Are you still unsure what direction you want to take? AnyChart can help! We offer beautiful data visualization with flexibility and some pretty amazing features.


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