If you’ve been following Stephen Few’s articles regarding data visualisation, you will be familiar with the terms Sparklines and Bullet Graphs. I’m a big fan of these types of graphs – they make so much sense and present a great deal of information simply, cleanly, concisely and in a very small footprint.
Several people have been implementing their versions of sparklines and bullet graphs with great success. I came across an article recently describing how to create bullet graphs using the Google Chart API in seven steps. This is quite a powerful tool, as you can now pass a series of parameters into a URL and get Google to display a bullet graph on your web page. An example of a bullet graph using the Google Chart API is shown below:
If you’d like to read more about Sparklines, Bullet Graphs and data visualisation, I’d highly recommend that you borrow, or even better, buy Stephen Few’s Information Dashboard Design. Stephen highlights many of the failings of the current data visualisation tools available from all the BI vendors. He goes on to describe why they fail to get the message across and goes on to produce his version of how information can be displayed in a more meaningful and uncluttered way. Essential reading in my view, if you are responsible for, or invlving in developing graphical reports, dashboards and analytics.