As far as charting can be a very individual requirement, we understand that customisation is one of the most important factors to using any open source technology. So we will definitely include this criterion when comparing libraries. And another important note before we start. The ease of integrating a library into an application is just as important as its technicality.
Here they are!
HighCharts a modern charting library based on SVG technology. It doesn’t require any plugin. Apparently, HighCharts is used by 70% of the largest companies in the world. Particularly with this library, you can become a fan of the dynamic charts, which enable the end user to tangibly interact with the data. The integration with all of the major web frameworks is very simple.
In all of its simplicity, Highcharts is also very much compatible with old browsers, so you can pick it if you don’t need to represent data using advanced charting styles.
C3 is a very efficient D3 based chart visualization library. It is easy to find your way around using this library, as it also reduces the work to be done by allowing you create reusable charts for your web applications.
C3 library is fast to render, has good compatibility across browsers and is very simple to integrate. The biggest thing to note with this library is the slight lack of functionality (not as fully featured as the other leading libraries) and the simplicity of the visualizations themselves. The charts produced with this library will never win an award for artistic styling, but they are functional and clean. If you’re looking for no-frills, C3 is a decent choice.
Chartist is thoroughly modern, SVG based library. It was built upon the idea that other libraries were simply not giving enough customisation options. The biggest feature, arguably, is the SVG animations in the charts produced with this library.
If a modern browser is used, one can implement CSS3 animations on SVG attributes that turn standard charts into something much more visually pleasing. One can also implement much more extensive animations with SMIL.
This library looks aren’t just skin deep. It has a solid technology base and is very easy to implement. Within minutes, one can have incredibly impressive, expressive charts that interact easily with any backend data source. Chartist is notably easy to configure, as well as being easy to customize with Sass. It, however, doesn’t support older browsers like its “sister” Chart.js does.
Another charting library built atop of D3.js, Plotly is one of the most common libraries used. Visually, Plotly is not as stunning as Chartist, but for technical prowess, Plotly might be on the top spot of all the libraries in the article.
However, once very large amounts of data points are included, Plotly struggled to run on an old machine, and actually managed to crash Chrome. That being said, it is a fantastically rich library and has outstanding documentation, including a tutorial for each of the chart types.
Its performance is relatively good and it does have basic animations to inject some visual stimulation in an otherwise fairly plain interface. Data can be pumped in directly from
.json files, meaning NVD3 is very easy to integrate with existing data API solutions.
So how to make a choice?
The basic comparison could also help:
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