Product Review: FusionCharts
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Published: 22 Sep 2009
Unedited - Community Contributed
Abstract
Information should be presented not only in an easy to understand manner but also using the latest techniques and styles. It should not be irritable to the eyes and it is in this scenario Adobe Flash based products such as FusionCharts play a vital role. Will it meet your requirements? Anand puts the product to test to enable you to find out.
by Anand Narayanaswamy
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Introduction

Nowadays many components are available which can be used to present information in charts with the help of .NET applications. While traditional charts are sufficient for the majority of projects, flash-based charts help users grasp the content in an animated manner. InfoSoft Global, a leading Kolkata-based company has developed a unique product named FusionCharts with which programmers will be able to build powerful windows and web based chart applications using a wide range of programming languages such as: ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, JSP, ColdFusion, Ruby on Rails, Python, and simple HTML.

Initial Steps

A fully functional trial version of the product can be downloaded by filling out a simple form located on the FusinCharts Download page. In order to work with FusinCharts, you need not install any file in your system as the entire package is bundled in a single ZIP file. You just need to user the required flash chart flash (SWF) file and provide the required coding as provided in the documentation. The only requirement is that users just need to install Adobe Flash Player 8 and above which is available for free.

Inside the Product

The product ships with nearly 45 types of charts. Included are 2D and 3D charts (www.fusioncharts.com/Gallery) which consist of line, area, bar, column, pie, doughnut (donut), combination, scatter, bubble, and scroll charts. It is not necessary to be familiar with Adobe Flash to work with the product. However, ambitious developers can customize the charts using the built-in XML-based Application Programming Interface (API).

Figure 1: 2D chart in Action

The vendor also provides a few additional products such as PowerCharts, FusionWidgets and FusionMaps which will help developers build advanced charts, guages and maps. An interesting feature of the product is that charts are generated on the client side, which can greatly reduce the server load. The application fetches relevant flash and XML files for the purpose of rendering the charts.

Sneak Preview

The FushionCharts package provides support for SQL Server 2005 and 2008 databases, but this should be converted into an XML file using a server side script as shown in this Short FusionCharts Video Demonstration. The FusionCharts package also ships with support for Ajax and JavaScript which users can leverage to update charts client side, invoke JavaScript functions as hotspot links, and much more. The product provides support for advanced functionalities such as slicing and rotation in case of pie chart. With the help of this feature, users can simply click on the chart and drag clockwise or counterclockwise to get better view of charts.

Figure 2: 3D Pie Chart Before Rotation

Figure 3: 3D Pie Chart After Rotation

From my point of view, the possibilities provided by the product are immense and it is up to the creativity of the developer to make optimum use of the product. I suggest you to check out the FusionCharts Live Demo.

Technical Support

The vendor provides excellent HTML documentation with the package, which clearly examines each feature of the product in a step-by-step manner with relevant source code and screenshots. Also available is an online version of the FusionCharts Documentation. I am very satisfied with the e-mail support as all my queries are answered within a single working day. Moreover, developers can also take advantage of the FushionCharts Knowledge Base, which provides answers to commonly asked queries and provides a location to interact with others through the FusionCharts Online Forums.

Conclusion

I would suggest the vendor create a small installation setup program so that developers can easily access the samples and documentation directly from the start menu as is done by other major component vendors. InfoSoft Global also regularly provides new information and updates through the FusionCharts Blog. I highly recommend the product for those developers who would like to implement different kind of charts while utilizing several powerful features in their applications.

About the Product

Title

FusionCharts

Price

Starts from $199

Related URL

www.fusioncharts.com

Rating

****

About the Reviewer

Anand Narayanaswamy (Microsoft MVP and Chief Technical Editor, ASPAlliance.com) is the author of Community Server Quickly and runs http://www.learnxpress.com.

 



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