FusionCharts Suite XT - Industry leading charting solution in JavaScript (HTML5) & Flash Editor's Review


Editor's rating

The editor's rating is calculated based on the average of the following criteria, rated on a
scale of 1 of 5:

  • Usage: 5
  • Features: 5
  • Interface: 4
  • Customization: 5
  • Help and support: 5

Bottom line

"FusionCharts XT stands unrivaled as an easy-to-use charting solution that makes data visualization on the web as comprehensive and elegant as it can get." - Ahmad Permessur, Editor - HotScripts.com

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Nice aesthetic renderings of the charts.
  • The charts render in both JavaScript and Flash, they work across platforms, devices and even older versions of IE like 6, 7 and 8
  • Works well with great chunks of data.
  • Comes with great documentation with sample source code.
  • Supports formatting for numbers and data.
  • Includes a debug mode for troubleshooting.
  • Has multilingual support for international characters.
  • Charts can be exported and saved as image or PDF formats.

Cons

  • Certain features like animation, 3-D charts, and visual editing are not supported in the JavaScript/HTML5 mode.

Detailed review

Graph and chart tools have become integral parts of many web applications, helping to make data more comprehensive. FusionCharts XT from InfoSoft Global offers unprecedented charting solutions that far outweigh those of its competitors. Initially launched in 2002 with less than a dozen Flash-based components, through regular updates it has now matured into a collection of over 90 charts offered in both Flash and JavaScript/HTML5 implementations.

FusionCharts XT supports a wide range of chart types. From single series charts like columns, bar chart, and pie charts to multi-series and stacked charts, you have a great selection to choose from. Most of the charts can also be rendered in either 2-D or 3-D mode.

For this review, I took FusionCharts XT on a test drive and will review some key aspects that are indispensable to any online charting solution: implementation and usage, data binding and manipulation, chart rendering, customization, and finally interaction.

1. Implementation and use — FusionCharts XT is offered as a set of Flash components along with some JavaScript libraries. All you have to do is call the appropriate .swf or .js file to your HTML page to start adding great charting capabilities to a page. It'll take you less than 10 minutes to have your first chart served.

Since everything runs and is processed on the client's browser, your server load is greatly reduced. FusionCharts XT automatically detects browser capabilities and in the event that Flash player is not installed, it automatically falls back to the JavaScript version. You can also easily overwrite the rendering mode and opt to have your charts displayed exclusively in JavaScript. This JavaScript and HTML5 workaround makes FusionCharts cross-platform-compliant and works great across all devices including mobile and tablets.

2. Data binding and manipulation — You can bind your data to FusionCharts in two ways — XML and JSON. If XML sends chills down your spine, let me reassure you that the XML schema used by FusionCharts XT is extremely straightforward and well-documented. To embed a chart in your page, all you need do is manually write the XML or JSON declarations. There's also a handy application that allows you to generate the XML either from a wizard or import from Excel, CSV, or HTML tables.

If your data originates from a database, you can leverage the FusionCharts XT API (available in several programming languages to avoid writing mundane code). The application also supports real-time data visualization from an external source. Finally, it easily supports a huge chunk of data points without bringing your page to a crawl.

3. Chart rendering — Over the years I've worked with a bunch of charting solutions, and I have to admit that FusionCharts XT makes chart rendering painless without making you dive into tons of configuration parameters. All you need do is select a chart type, plug in your data points, and let it do the magic. It takes an educated guess at rendering your chart as visually pleasing as possible, automatically calculating axes, scales and labeling positions. In this way, the product renders charts that abstract the data’s complexity while ensuring that they are as comprehensive as possible. Typical items such as setting tool tips, trend lines, and even highlights are well supported.

4. Customization — Almost every element on a chart can be customized and animated, including custom colors and fonts for your data series and labels. You can also specify a background image or add a hyperlinked logo. A lot of the data plot charts will animate by default, but with Flash charts, you can create your own animation.

One very useful customization feature is the ability to create your own style definitions for font, effects, and animation — think of it as CSS. After you declare your style, you can attach it to one or more objects. This creates a neat way of organizing your style from your data series and eliminating tons of inline style definition.

5. Interaction — FusionCharts XT charts aren't mere static charts. You can hook-in some great interactions for users to drill down your data or even manipulate it. A basic example is the ability to set data points to open a link (can be set to parse a parameter) or even open a pop-up window. A new feature introduced in the most recent version is LinkedCharts — it allows you to specify multiple data series in a single chart and will reveal subsequent series whenever a particular data point is clicked. Thanks to its JavaScript event handlers, you can manipulate charts outside of the chart embedded area by parsing parameters or capturing data points or other chart properties.

FusionCharts XT excels when it comes to support and documentation. It has a plethora of different chart examples with their XML or JSON codes, along with actual applications that illustrate integration with different programming languages. It also has an active forum with a wealth of questions and answers.

Overall FusionCharts XT is the ideal solution for all your web charting needs thanks to its easy-to-customize, elegant and reasonably priced JavaScript and HTML5 charts. The developers have demonstrated a real passion of crafting an application that addresses several complexities of data visualization for the web. Some enhancements to the JavaScript/HTML5 portion would further improve this already great product.

 
Disclosure

This is an editorial review; not a recommendation. All editorial reviews, some of which we may receive compensation to perform, express our objective findings and experiences with the specific product (including version) under review. The review expressed is of the editor only. Any product claim, statistic, or other representation should be verified with the provider.