Vanishing act
Break it down, build it up

From bad to worse

Pie charts can range from bad to worse.  Brent L. pointed us to a few on the right end of that spectrum.


Brent wrote: "The background image makes it almost totally unreadable.  And what does the forest scene have to do with programming?  *sigh*"

That's not to mention the oval rather than circle, the dizzling array of colors, the Excel-style legend that inverts the order of importance ("Other" at the top), etc. etc.

Again, a column chart would have been much clearer.  Since the total number of famous programmers is arbitrary, a chart of counts would work at least as well as one that plots proportions.

More here.

Reference: "Famous programmers from Adleman to Zimmerman", grokcode.


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That's hilarious. I saw that chart a couple of days ago, and the first thing I thought was that this would be a good target for junk charts.

The sad thing is that somebody actually spend a lot of time obscuring what they are trying to convey.


Did these programmers deliver 100% of the world's projects between them, I wonder?

Jorge Camoes

From the first comment: "The graphs are well done. How did you make them?"

First rule of good information visualization: if the user asks something like this the chart is not invisible. If the chart is not invisible there is something wrong with it.

Jon Peltier

Because of the forest image, the legend bears no resemblance to the pie wedges. I was also distracted by the increasing offset of the wedgtes from the pie center: I actually spent more time examining the center of the chart than the data.

I'm not really sure, but I think Other is the largest category, and they are plotted largest to smallest. So while it looked weird enough for you to mention, I think this one aspect of the chart was not done improperly.

Chris P

I don't see bark and leaves on the legend.

The second comment on the site points to the tool that was used to make this plumb. Another great example from Graph ZX is here:

Tony Rose

Oh my.

Just when you think they can't get any worse, something like this pops up.

This brings me back to the idea that people need to "pretty-up" their charts. Maybe they're trying to get a "WOW" response. I don't know... Stick to the basics is my advice when seeing something like this.

Jan Schultink

Oops. A great start for a "before-after" makeover.


Great info.
Reminds me of an article I ran into that talks about Visualization making its way into Enterprise Software
Visualization Video


I just found this blog, it's great.

I thought one of the worst things with this chart is that it is trying to show what projects famous programmers have worked on, but the biggest slice of the pie is the most useless piece of data: Other. The categories are obviously inadequate if the miscellaneous category dominated the presentation...


Thanks Brian. Your point about "Other" is right on.

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