by Tom Helvick
However, D3 is also known for its steep learning curve. It’s really an entire framework for working with data. As a result, there’s a lot to learn, and it can be frustrating to work with at the beginning. Fortunately, there’s a great community and excellent tutorials available to help you learn D3.
The payoff is huge if you get over the initial learning curve. D3 supports more chart types and gives greater flexibility than any other library out there. There’s excellent tooling for in-browser debugging. Also, there are tons of examples and code snippets you can borrow from. The best part is it’s completely free to use, and it’s the most powerful tool on the market.
If you just need a simple chart, then D3 might be overkill. Perhaps you want something that’s easy to use and well-styled. Enter Chart.js, a simple, flexible alternative. You can produce beautiful, clear charts in all the common chart types with a few lines of code.
Chart.js is also open source and free to use. There is also a great community, with support, documentation, and plugins for added features. Chart.js is the perfect basic solution for developers who just need a quick chart implemented well without any fancy requirements.
Another simple, flexible library is Chartist.js. It supports even fewer chart types than Chart.js — just line, bar, or pie. However, for 80% of use cases Chartist is more than adequate. In return, Chartist offers a really simple development experience and beautiful visuals, including animation. Chartist graphs are also responsive for cross-platform viewing. Chartist is also open source and free to use.
4. Google Charts
The only paid option on our list is FusionCharts. While it’s free for non-commercial use, any business using it will have to pay at least $500 (one developer license). Still, that price may be worth it for the out of the box functionality you get. FusionCharts is much more highly customizable than any of the other options, except D3. However, it still manages to be easy to use and avoids D3’s steep learning curve. It also has pre-built integrations for modern frontend and backend frameworks. Customer support and documentation are top-notch as you’d expect from a paid product.
If you’re looking for a simple-to-implement solution, check out Google Charts or Chartist. Need a little more customizability? Chart.js should do the trick in most cases. If you have a highly customized chart in mind or unique data structure, you’ll need to look at D3 (free, high time to startup) or FusionCharts (paid, faster and more intuitive).
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