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Visiblox Charts 2.1 - A Sneak Peek

Introduction

We get a lot of great feedback from our customers on what features they would like to see and we try and use that feedback to inform our product roadmap. In the months since the last release the product team have been beavering away in the back room preparing a new release with some really exciting new features, so I thought it might be a nice idea to give you an idea of what's in the pipeline.

The main focus areas for this release have been implementing a number of features our customers have been asking for and working on the visuals of Visiblox Charts.

New Features

Visiblox Charts will be adding a few new features and addressing a couple gaps in existing features. Here's a quick-fire look at the new features that are coming.

DiscontinuousLineSeries

We've been getting emails from people asking "How do I render gaps in my line" or "I'd like the line to change colour when it goes above a threshold". Previously that would have required using multiple LineSeries or building a new series of your own. No more! Enter the DiscontinuousLineSeries which allows placement of gaps or alternate styles in a line. This will allow you to interrupt the line, either with gaps or with a different style to do things like this:

Discontinuous Line Series Example

Data Labels

Often it's useful to show actual numbers as well as the visual representation of a data point on a chart. This can easily be done by placing a label next to the data point, displaying it's "value". A number of the Visiblox Charts series types now provide support for data labels to do this, including line, column and bar series.

Data Label Example

Better MVVM Support

Visiblox Charts has had pretty good support for MVVM since release 2.0 which added the AutoSeriesGenerator class for binding a view model directly to the chart. In the next release one of the key remaining issues will be resolved, which is that the BindableDataSeries' ItemSource property will become a bindable property and will inherit the chart's DataContext. This will make using Visiblox Charts in an MVVM context that much more straightforward and will make using data templates easier as well. This has been a much sought after feature so we're delighted to be able to address this shortcoming.

Reversed Axes

In some scenarios it is desirable to produce charts in which the axes are rendered such that the minimum and maximum values are reversed. This is especially true of things like strip charts in an oil drilling context where you're plotting depth on a vertical chart. Visiblox Charts is getting a ReversedAxis property which will let axes render in the reverse direction rather than having to implement custom axes for this purpose in future.

Cycling Bar/Column Series

The normal Visiblox Charts Bar- or ColumnSeries renders each bar with the same colour. That makes a lot of sense if you're going to put more than one series on the same chart. If you only have a single series though, sometimes it's actually nicer to have each bar be a different colour. The new StylingMode property on Bar and ColumnSeries does exactly that. If you set that to "per point" it will render each point in a different colour, in the sequence defined by the chart's Palette.

Example of per-point column styling

Visual Improvements

Visiblox Charts has historically not focused on "looking nice". We've been working on producing the fastest and most flexible charts out there. While it has always been possible to produce some really nice looking charts with Visiblox Charts, it hasn't always been as easy as it should be. Clearly, the "prettiness" of a chart is not necessarily the priority. Data visualisation is about displaying the data in a way the reader can understand and should do so in a manner that focuses on the data, not the looks. There is a reasonable argument to be made, however, that the first obstacle is getting the reader to look at the data at all, and pretty charts can sometimes help with that! In this release we've been working on making it possible to create prettier charts more easily.

Examples of pretty charts with Visiblox Charts 2.0

Theming

The core feature addition to support the refresh on the visuals has been to implement support for Themes. It is now easy to switch all of the chart's visual properties from one theme to another, just by wrapping it in a theme control. For example, take a look at the following charts. It's the same chart, just three different themes!

Chart with different themes applied

We'll be hoping to make a couple of different themes available with the release to suit different needs.

Blend Support

In parallel to improving the visuals of the chart we wanted to make it easier to control those visuals so with the next release of Visiblox Charts we are introducing support for Expression Blend in the premium edition. This should help make it easier for people to play with the look of the charts.

Improved Visuals

While it was generally possible to make Visiblox Charts look pretty good before, there were a couple of features that people wanted that couldn't be achieved. Most notably these are support for bevels and rounded corners on bar and column charts, so those have now been added. We've also added bevels to the pie charts to give them a slightly raised effect.

Simpler Palette

The Palette concept in Visiblox Charts is very powerful and extremely useful, but it has always been quite hard work (not to mention confusing) to define a palette from scratch. The new SimplePalette is an extension of that palette concept which makes it easier to do simple things with palettes. Most notably it is now possible to just take the existing Visiblox palette and simply define your own colours, without having to go to all the trouble of redefining the whole palette. Don't worry though, all the old palettes will still work just as they did before, so any effort you've made to create your own palette is not lost!

Other changes

As ever we'll also be including a number of fixes for reported issues, performance improvements and memory improvements as well.

Conclusion

That concludes our sneak peek at Visiblox Charts 2.1. I hope you're looking forward to the release as much as I am, but as ever we'd love to hear your feedback and find out what you think, so get in touch and let us know!

 

Comments

Very very nice!

 
Posted by Colin E.

Any timing on this release?

Can you expand on what you mean by making charts "pretty"? It looks like you used a circular gradient brush on the bubble chart in the example? Is there going to be a straightforward way to use custom brushes to fill chart components (like bars)?

 
Posted by Matt Redmond

Hi Matt,

There's no date but we're currently aiming for the end of August or early September for the 2.1 release.

Regarding your query, it already is possible to use custom brushes to fill chart components in 2.0. What is not yet possible for column and bar series (and hasn't been implemented for 2.1 yet either but is on our roadmap, hopefully for the next release) is to colour one single bar differently from the rest. You can do that with other series types by using a TemplatedSeries from the premium edition but creating bar or column series with that might be tricky (but is probably possible). But if you, for example, wanted to add a gradient fill to the bars you can do that in 2.0 already. What we've done for 2.1 is add things like rounded corners and bevels on bar and column series and most importantly implemented themeing so you can easily switch from one look and feel to another.

 
Posted by Jesse Beaumont

Looking forward to DiscontinuousLineSeries, although what would really be cool is a line that changes color according to a DataSeries. You could plot 2 variables with 1 line.

 
Posted by Michael

This is a great tool! One little concern... can I export to image format such as PNG or BMP? It would be great if vector format is included!

Cheers.

 
Posted by Claudio Herrera

Hi Claudio,

Thanks for the great comment! As for image export, keep your eyes on this blog, there's a post about that coming up very soon!

Jesse

 
Posted by Jesse Beaumont

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