The modern perception of a chart’s behavior, performance, and visualization abilities are changing rapidly. New, easier to interpret charts, maps and geo visualizations are finding their way into becoming a standard for every business application. Rendering performance is becoming a key aspect. End-users are demanding new ways of interaction, such as interactive filtering and drilling of data. The change is happening now.

A new OLAP charting engine in Telerik Reporting

We are pleased to announce that we have been working on a new charting engine for Telerik Reporting that will allow you to create engaging and modern visualizations, in the fraction of the time it used to take in the past. In Q1 2013 Telerik Reporting will get a set of new visualization capabilities which, when used properly, will help your users understand data quicker and make better decisions. The new chart will be released next week as a beta. The beta tag is there only because we want your feedback for polishing the chart before making it official.

What is new compared to the current version?

Everything. The architecture is completely new - it is simpler, more capable, with less limitations, and easier to build on. The styling mechanism is consistent with the other report items’ (the old chart has its own styling mechanism). The new chart uses Telerik Reporting’s data engine, just like other data items, which also means that it can work with OLAP data, making it a fully blown OLAP/pivot chart. To put this statement into perspective, the Crosstab’s Column hierarchy can be used as the Chart’s Category hierarchy, and the Crosstab’s Row hierarchy can be used as the Chart’s Series hierarchy.

Visualizations (chart types)

In this version the OLAP chart will visualize the most common chart types:

  • Scatter and Bubble charts (with smooth, straight or no line; with or without markers)
  • Polar, Filled Polar (with or without markers)
  • Column, Clustered Column, Stacked Column, 100% Stacked Column, Range Columns including straight or smooth (Bezier) lines
  • Bar, Clustered Bar, Stacked Bar, 100% Stacked Bar, Range Bar
  • Area, Stacked Area, 100% Stacked Area, Range Area including straight or smooth (Bezier) lines
  • Line, Stacked Line, 100% Stacked Line (smooth or straight; with or without markers)
  • Pie, Doughnut
  • Rose Chart, Stacked Rose Chart, 100% Stacked Rose Chart
  • Sparkline
  • Combinations of all series types, scales and coordinate systems without limitations
  • Combinations of charts in a cross table, which provide for an endless ways for visualizing multidimensional data

Let me dissect some of these. The ones listed on top are quite familiar – the old chart supports these as well. The bottom half however are more interesting. 

New for Telerik Reporting is the doughnut chart, which is actually a 100% stacked bar chart presented in a polar coordinate system:

Telerik Reporting Bar & Doughnut Charts
Overlapping Doughnut and 100% Stacked Bar charts (Telerik Reporting)

Also new to Telerik Reporting is the rose chart, which represents OLAP data in a fashion, similar to the pie chart:

Telerik Reporting Rose Chart
Rose Chart (Telerik Reporting)

Another milestone is the sparkline chart, which is a rather small chart with no fluff, introduced widely with Microsoft Excel 2007:

Telerik Reporting Sparkline (Line) with many datapoints
Sparkline with many data points (Telerik Reporting)

In Telerik Reporting the sparkline is not a special chart, but a regular chart, just stripped down and miniaturized. This allows for using any chart type as a sparkline. With Telerik Reporting you can even add conditional formatting to a sparkline:

Column sparkline with conditional formatting and many data points (Telerik Reporting)

The most powerful are the combination charts, which impose no limits on what you can do. You can mix chart types, chart series, scales, and what not into a single visualization. All you need is know-how, imagination, and proper instructions on how to interpret the charts you create. Here are two rather simple examples created with Telerik Reporting:

Telerik Reporting Bar and Line Combination Chart
Bar and Line combination chart (Telerik Reporting)

Telerik Reporting Coumn and Area Comination Chart
Column and Area combination chart (Telerik Reporting)

And finally, you can use charts in pivot tables, which will allow you to use the CrossTable’s settings as chart settings for endless ways for visualizing multidimensional data:

Telerik Reporting Chart in a CrossTab Report Item
Chart in a CrossTab report item in design time (Telerik Report Designer)

Telerik Reporting Chart in a CrossTab Report Item Preview
Chart in a CrossTab report item in Preview mode (Telerik Report Designer)

How will the new chart work

Codelessly (or automagically, if you will) in most cases. When you need to add a new chart to the report, select the chart type from the ribbon in the Report Designer, or from the toolbox in VS, and a wizard will help you set up the data (from the available report data sources, or by adding a new data source), define the graph series with drag and drop, and add styling. The chart can be customized via its properties in both Visual Studio and in the Telerik Report Designer. The Telerik Report Designer however will also offer quick settings in the ribbon bar, such as color pallets, formatting, adding/removing legends, titles, axes, etc. Your feedback will be very welcome on how to improve the interface, so feel free to give us your feedback either here or in our Forums.

What else is different compared to the old chart (some features at a glance)

Description New Chart Old Chart
Category group hierarchy (as dimension) Yes No
Series group hierarchy (as dimension) Yes

1 level only (by field)
Expression support Yes No
Conditional formatting support Yes No
Rendering Native vector rendering in: HTML5 (svg), PDF, XAML, metafile/emf. Bitmaps are also supported. Image only (bitmap, metafile)
  • category
  • numerical (log, exp)
  • date/time
  • category
  • numerical (log)
Coordinate systems which can be used in a single chart Many coordinate systems with shared axes Cartesian (X, Y) and/or Polar (radial, angular) One Cartesian (X, Y) coordinate system with one additional secondary axis (X or Y)
Styling Yes (consistent with the other report items). Report designer will also offer pre-defined color palettes Yes (exclusive to chart only, extensive but cumbersome to use)
Rendering performance New chart renders 10 times faster than old chart
Memory usage New chart consumes at least 3 times less memory than old chart

Backwards compatibility

The new charting engine is not backwards compatible with the old one. The architectural differences are too great for creating a meaningful automatic upgrade procedure. For those of you using Visual Studio, we have added a new class (Telerik.Reporting.Graph) which will allow using both charts in a report for backwards compatibility. In the Report Designer both charts can also work simultaneously in existing reports, however adding a new chart to a report will insert the new chart only.

What to expect in the future

In no particular order, here is a list of features we plan to add in the next versions:

  • Interactivity
  • Enhanced styling and label positioning
  • Map integration (Google, BING maps)

In the meantime we will catch up with some features, but later this year the new integrated graphing component will supersede the current chart report item.

You can see the new chart in action by registering for the What's New in Telerik Reporting webinar on March 4th below.

Let us know what you think!

Webinar Registration

About the Author

Vassil Petev

is a Product Manager at Telerik. Loves gadgets, sailing, skiing and DJing.


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