The results let you display complex data in an easy-to-understand manner that also offers visual appeal. As such, you can communicate insights and patterns in the data you feed your charts effortlessly.
Even better, you can customize the look and feel of the charts and graphs you generate. There will often be a choice of chart types, too, as well as interactive functionality, such as tooltips.
Of course, each library has its own strengths and weaknesses. You’ll also likely use each one in different contexts, depending on the type of data you want to visualize. It’s a good idea to bear this in mind as we look at the list. The libraries we showcase aren’t in any order, and we suspect you’ll have more than a singular favorite by the end of the post.
First up, we have the Data-Driven Documents (D3) library. D3.js is powerful and sees a lot of use with developers to create complex and interactive data visualizations. You can build using HTML, CSS, SVG, and much more.
D3.js offers a lot of functionality under the hood. This includes data manipulation, layout generation, and general data visualization. You could turn to D3.js to create custom visualizations that require advanced data manipulation or visual effects. However, the library has a steep learning curve for some, so it may not be ideal for a first-time user.
As per its name, Chart.js provides a variety of chart types, including line, bar, pie, doughnut, and radar charts. The library is solid if you need to create simple visualizations with a limited amount of data.
We also like the intuitive application programming interface (API) and excellent documentation. As such, we recommend Chart.js for both beginners and developers who need to create simple visualizations fast.
Plotly.js also offers a powerful API to let you create custom visualizations with localized functionality such as hover text, zooming, and panning. If your visualizations need a high degree of interactivity, Plotly.js can help you achieve it. It’s also ideal if you need to integrate its functionality with other web applications, too.
As with other libraries, you’ll get the ability to zoom and pan, and also implement drill-downs. However, Highcharts is a premium library, with a license that starts from $160 per year. Even so, it provides excellent documentation, quality support, and a large user community.
Google Charts is at its best when you use it to create simple visualizations fast, as its simple API and intuitive documentation are both rich. As you’d expect, you also get excellent integration with other Google products, such as Google Sheets and Google Analytics. This will give you ways to create deep and comprehensive insights, along with slick presentation.
Vega-Lite also supports data transformations, such as filtering, sorting, and aggregation, along with visual transformations (such as stacking). We also like how you can use Vega-Lite in conjunction with D3.js, which gives you a way to leverage the power of both libraries.
We like the efficiency of amCharts, too, as it’s tiny and processes data fast. However, this is another premium tool with a somewhat complex licensing model. Prices start from $180 and rise rapidly.
The library provides a variety of chart types, and it will be fantastic if you need to create simple visualizations that work well on mobile devices. On the whole, Chartist.js is a great tool for creating lightweight and responsive visualizations thanks to its small size and excellent performance.
In fact, you get hundreds of interactive chart types and maps. With each one you could render a theoretical millions of points of data. As such, it’s stellar for “Big Data” applications and dashboards.
However, to net this powerful functionality, you’ll need to pay. FusionCharts starts from $439 per year, and despite the quality under the hood, this could be prohibitive.
10. Apache ECharts
One of its standout features is the powerful API. This lets you create custom visualizations based on your data sets, and include animation and interactivity to boot. We also think the elegant visual design is one of the best on the market, especially for an open-source solution.
With its excellent documentation and active community, we think ECharts is a great tool for data visualization experts and developers. It’s a go-to option for many situations, especially where you need to include accessible visualizations.
Instead of needing to use your own code, you can add your data to Visualizer and let it do the work for you.
With the Visualizer plugin, you can create 15+ interactive chart types using your choice of different data visualization libraries including Chart.js, GoogleCharts, and DataTable.
To supply the data for your charts, you can use a variety of sources including CSVs (upload one or sync with a hosted CSV file), databases, external APIs, and more.
The facts don’t lie, but those who matter can ignore them if those facts don’t stand out. Appearances count, and the data you get from your analytics should look its best. This is because visual data can educate and convince those in power that they need to take action to do what’s best for business.