Apr 12, 2007
In terms of interactive charting, Google Finance did much more than hide the legend. In their main stock price chart, they used a number of neat features.
This chart effectively conveys a huge amount of information in a small space. The bottom strip which shows relative prices for the past two years provides context to interpret the five-day movement shown in the main chart area. I prefer to see a scale on the bottom strip as well.
The sliding scrollbar can be dragged to show historical data. Besides, the width of the window shown in the main area can be controlled. For instance:
Without any effort, we are now looking at a 3-month chart for Q2 2006. Notice the summary statistic on the top right corner also morphed. The axis scale changed, and it never did start from zero to begin with. (This shortcoming is alleviated by the profile chart in the bottom strip.)
Further, by placing the cursor in the chart area, we can highlight a particular day: a dot appeared on the price curve, the volume on that day was highlighted, and the text on the top right switched. That text is what we typically place inside the chart area as a "data label". The effect of moving it to the corner is similar to hiding the legend: it makes the graph more legible and provides space for longer descriptions. As we move the cursor from left to right, the graph dynamically adapts. Marvellous!
It may not be obvious the amount of data processing that has to take place to implement these sorts of features.
I don't have space to address the data issue but maybe some of our readers can comment on it.
Thanks for the tip. This is a vast improvement over standard graphic presentations.
You look at these types of charts -- and the impressive speed of revision in a "thin client" application -- and it makes you wonder how Excel gets away with having essentially the same static chart format for 15 years now. The fat client just keeps getting fatter, but the graphics don't change much.
Posted by: zbicyclist | Apr 13, 2007 at 11:18 PM
zbicyclist, I think the thing you have to remember about Excel is that it isn't a graphing program, but a spreadsheet program. The graphing add-on is just a "dog-in-the-manger" placeholder to warn developers not to try to fill the hole in the market. Like the Thematic Map add-on in Excel, it was developed just far enough to serve the purpose of chilling competition, and then abandoned to orphanhood. It has essentially lain untouched since Lotus 1-2-3 went to the wall.
Posted by: derek | Apr 14, 2007 at 06:57 AM