Drawing pretty graphs with Open Flash Chart

I’m keen for young people that Solent Youth Action works with to have access to information about how the charity runs. I’d like for us to be as transparent as possible, and as a geek, one of the ways that I am working on this is by putting more stuff on our website.

We put our Financial Statements online so that people could see where we get our money from, and how we spend it. But it’s a dry document – a twenty-two page PDF of numbers and accounting blurb.

While it is important for this information to be available, it’s not easily accessible to many like this. Tonight I had a play with presenting it as animated online graphs using the awesome Open Flash Chart.

The Open Flash Chart site has very clear tutorials and a ton of examples, so I wont waste time here by going into detail explaining how to use it.

But it’s worth highlighting just how simple it is – drop the swf file into a directory on your webserver, then point it at a JSON file with your data (either by URL, or by reference in your HTML). That’s pretty much it.

The most complicated bit was copying figures out of the Financial Statements document and pasting it into a JSON text file. Even this was fairly quick.

Flash graphs are not as accessible as something like Google Chart images because they require Flash to be installed. However, I hope the visual flair they add makes up for this, and will help grab the attention of our volunteers.

I created a couple of quick charts to show our income and expenditure, but there are many more examples of how to use it here and here.

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6 Responses to “Drawing pretty graphs with Open Flash Chart”

  1. Hi!

    What do you think about AnyChart http://www.anychart.com – it is also flash chart solution? Will it work for your task?


  2. dale says:

    hi Anton, thanks very much for the comment.

    At first glance, it does look like AnyChart could also fit the bill.

    However, unlike Open Flash Chart which is free, AnyChart appears to cost hundreds of dollars for a license. It is unlikely that I could justify spending that much charity money on graphs for our website, particularly when there is a free alternative.

    It’s good to see that there are different options available.

  3. James Thomas says:

    If you want something with interactivity that doesn’t need flash have a look at flot, http://code.google.com/p/flot/

  4. dale says:

    James – thanks for that, I’d not heard of that one before. Avoiding a requirement for Flash is definitely a good idea

  5. monk.e.boy says:

    I don’t see flash being a massive problem, we all watch youtube, so we all have flash installed.

    Sure there is a hypothetical situation where someone may not have it installed…. but in the real world it doesn’t happen.

    BTW the AnyChart comment is SEO. They spam blogs that write about OFC unfortunately.


  6. Dale, thank you for your answer! Actually – we’re very flexible in licensing and always are ready to discuss different variants.