It’s practically impossible to imagine any dashboard without graphs and charts. They present complex statistics quickly and effectively. Additionally, a good graph also enhances the overall design of your website.
While most of the libraries are free and open source, some of them provide a paid version with additional features.
Our top JS charting libraries:
- D3.js – Popular, well supported but a steep learning curve.
- Plot.ly – Great for scientific charting. Built off D3.js.
- Chart.js – Simple and elegant
Other notable mentions:
- Google Charts
- Fusion Charts
D3.js — Data-Driven Documents
D3.js doesn’t work well with older browsers like IE8 (but who does?). But you can always use plugins like aight plugin for cross-browser compatibility.
If you’d like to learn D3.js, we have a book on data visualization with D3.
Google Charts is a great choice for simple projects that do not require complex customization. It provides many pre-built charts like area charts, bar charts, calendar charts, pie charts, geo charts, and more. All charts are interactive and you can add them to your page in minutes.
Google Charts also comes with various customization options that help in changing the look of the graph. Charts are rendered using HTML5/SVG to provide cross-browser compatibility and cross-platform portability to iPhones, iPads, and Android. It also includes VML for supporting older IE versions.
Here’s a great list of examples built using Google Charts.
ChartJS provides beautiful flat designs for charts. It uses the HTML5 Canvas element for rendering and supports all modern browsers (IE11+).
ChartJS charts are responsive by default. They work well on mobile and tablets. There are 8 different types of charts out of the box (Line, Bar, Radar, Doughnut and Pie, Polar Area, Bubble, Scatter, Area), plus the ability to mix them. All charts are animated and customizable.
Here is a curated list of examples built with ChartJS.
You can explore and play with different types of charts at the Chartist.js examples page. The charts are interactive and you can edit them on the fly.
If you are an Angular developer, you will definitely find n3-charts extremely useful and interesting. n3-charts is built on top of D3.js and Angular. It provides various standard charts in the form of customizable Angular directives.
Check out this list of charts built using n3-charts.
ZingChart offers a flexible, interactive, fast, scalable and modern product for creating charts quickly. Their product is used by companies like Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, Boeing and Cisco, and uses Ajax, JSON, HTML5 to deliver great-looking charts quickly.
ZingChart offers more than 35 responsive chart types and modules, which can also be showing data in real-time. They can be styled and themed by CSS and can render big data fast.
You can check out their rich set of examples.
A branded version, with all charts, is available to try for free, but for watermark-free output you need to buy one of ZingChart’s paid licenses according to your business size.
Highcharts is another very popular library for building graphs. It comes loaded with many different types of cool animations that are sufficient to attract many eyeballs to your website. Just like other libraries, Highcharts comes with many pre-built graphs like spline, area, areaspline, column, bar, pie, scatter, etc. The charts are responsive and mobile-ready. Besides, Highcharts offers some advanced features such as adding annotations to your charts.
One of the biggest advantages of using Highcharts is compatibility with older browsers — even way back to Internet Explorer 6. Standard browsers use SVG for graphics rendering. In legacy Internet Explorer, graphics are drawn using VML.
There are wrappers for most popular languages (.NET, PHP, Python, R, and Java) and frameworks (Angular, Vue and React), and for iOS and Android.
While Highcharts is free for personal use, you need to purchase a license for commercial usage.
You can use the watermarked version of FusionCharts for free in personal projects. However, you need to purchase a commercial license to remove the watermark.
Flot supports lines, points, filled areas, bars and any combinations of these. It’s also compatible with older browsers — way back to IE6 and Firefox 2.
Flot is completely free to use. Here’s a list of example graphs created using Flot.
amCharts is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful charting libraries out there. It offers both charts and geographical maps (Map Chart), which allow for advanced data visualization.
The Map Chart package is very impressive. It allows you to create all kinds of interactive maps with a few lines of code. Some of the great features this package provides include map projections, coordinate shifting, and heat maps. There are lots of bundled maps and you can make your own too.
Checkout this fantastic collection of cool demos created using amCharts.
The free version of amChart will leave a backlink to its website on the top of every chart.
CanvasJS is a responsive HTML5 charting library with high performance and a simple API. It supports 30 different chart types (including line, column, bar, area, spline, pie, doughnut, stacked charts, etc.), which are well documented. All charts include interactive features like tooltips, zooming, panning, animation, etc. CanvasJS can be integrated with popular frameworks (Angular, React, and jQuery) and server-side technologies (PHP, Ruby, Python, ASP.Net, Node.JS, Java).
TOAST UI Chart
AnyChart provides users with five types of resources to learn the library (documentation, API Reference, Playground, Chartopedia, and FAQ).
You can download a watermarked version for free after registration. However, to get rid of the branding and use AnyChart for commercial purposes, it’s necessary to buy a license.
It now depends on you to select the best charting library for your future projects. Developers who like to have complete control over their charts will definitely opt for D3.js. Almost all the above libraries have good support via Stack Overflow forums.
If you are looking for tools to generate ready-made charts, head over to 5 Tools for Creating Amazing Online Charts article. You can also read Creating Simple Line and Bar Charts Using D3.js to get started with D3.js. We also have a dedicated series on using Google Charts with Angular, and a book: An Introduction to Data Visualization with D3.
There are lots of other charting and graphing libraries out there. Here are some more worth checking out:
- C3.js is a D3-based reusable chart library.
- dimple is an object-oriented API for business analytics powered by D3.
- Charted, by Medium, is a tool that automatically visualizes data. You just give it a link to a data file. (You can read more about it at Medium.)
- Smoothie Charts can be helpful, if you are dealing with stream real-time data.
Lastly, here are some simpler tools for quickly creating infographics:
- infogram makes it easy to create engaging infographics and reports in minutes.
- Piktochart is a simple, intuitive tool that helps you represent various kind of data.
- Easelly is a simple infographic maker that lets you visualize any kind of information.
For those looking for a simpler and more user-friendly option, Chart.js is a lightweight library that offers various chart types, including line charts, bar charts, and pie charts. Chart.js is known for its ease of use and quick setup, making it a popular choice for developers who want to create simple, responsive graphs without extensive configuration.
There are many more lbraries available, though: our favorites are oultined above!
What is better than Chart.js?
Chart.js is excellent for creating straightforward, standard charts with relative ease, but several alternatives offer distinct advantages for specific use cases.
If you require highly customized and interactive charts, D3.js (Data-Driven Documents) stands out. It provides unparalleled control over your visualizations, allowing you to build intricate and unique graphs. However, it comes with a steeper learning curve compared to Chart.js, making it ideal for more complex data visualization projects.
Highcharts is a commercial library that excels in offering a rich array of features and advanced chart types. If you have a budget for a commercial library, Highcharts can be a compelling choice, providing a wider range of charting capabilities beyond what Chart.js offers.
What is the difference between Chart. js and D3.js?
Chart.js and D3.js serve different purposes in the realm of data visualization. Chart.js is geared towards simplicity and ease of use. It provides a high-level API that enables developers to create common chart types quickly and with minimal code. It’s an excellent choice for projects where you need straightforward visualizations without diving into the intricacies of low-level chart rendering. On the other hand, D3.js is a more advanced and flexible library that offers fine-grained control over the Document Object Model (DOM). It follows a “data-driven” approach, giving developers the power to create highly customized and interactive visualizations. However, this flexibility comes at the cost of a steeper learning curve.
The key difference lies in complexity and customization. Chart.js is best suited for simple and standard charts, making it perfect for rapid development of common data visualizations. In contrast, D3.js excels when you need intricate, tailored visualizations or when you want complete control over every aspect of the visualization’s behavior and appearance. The choice depends on your project’s requirements: Chart.js for quick and straightforward tasks, and D3.js for projects demanding extensive customization and interactivity.
What is the difference between Chart.js and Highcharts?
In terms of customization and features, Chart.js is celebrated for its simplicity and ease of use, making it ideal for quickly creating basic charts. It provides a moderate level of customization but may have limitations compared to more robust charting libraries like Highcharts. Highcharts, conversely, boasts a rich feature set and extensive customization options. It supports a wide array of chart types, interactive features, and built-in animations. It’s the go-to choice when intricate, feature-rich charts with advanced interactivity are needed.
Lastly, the community and ecosystem differ. Chart.js has a thriving community and active development, providing ample resources, plugins, and support. It’s a popular choice among developers for its versatility and free availability. Highcharts also maintains a strong community, offering comprehensive documentation and support. However, as a commercial product, the ecosystem might not be as extensive as open-source alternatives like Chart.js, potentially limiting the availability of free resources and plugins.
Another straightforward option is Google Charts, which is renowned for its ease of use. It provides a simple API and a variety of chart types, making it suitable for those who prefer a hassle-free experience. Google Charts also integrates seamlessly with Google’s suite of tools, which can be advantageous when working within that ecosystem.
Flot is a lightweight and user-friendly library tailored for interactive chart creation. It’s known for its simplicity in setup and usage, making it a convenient choice for developers looking to swiftly incorporate interactive charts into web applications without a steep learning curve.