Charting Google's Way
September 15, 2014

Charting Google's Way

Daniel Ma | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 3 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version


Overall Satisfaction with Google Charts

I used Google Charts to display data from Google Analytics. Our core service was providing personalized insights for web properties. Google Charts was a central piece of puzzle in building our product. It allowed us to help customers understand their web traffic in intuitive ways. We used it for everything from simple pie charts, to large tables.
  • It draws charts without bugs. I didn't run into a single one during my two years of working with it. This is a big advantage of using something that helps power a core Google service.
  • It has extensive documentation. Lots of options, lots of examples, lots of explanations. You'll never need to go digging through the source code trying to figure out how to do something.
  • It has a very predictable API. Once you learn to use it for one chart type, it's easy to begin building other charts.
  • It throws helpful errors. When something goes wrong, it's not difficult to figure out why.
  • It's not an extensible library. If you want to do something that isn't covered by it's feature set, there are no hooks to implement it yourself. If you're looking to choose it for a project, make sure it covers all your edge cases for visualization needs.
  • There are very limited options for visual styling. You get what they give you.
  • Tooltips are extremely limited. You can't add custom HTML. Plain text is all you get.
  • It doesn't have great support for dynamically updating charts. In our cases, when we wanted to update data, we removed the chart from the page and rebuilt it for updates
  • Highcharts,Raphael
When we were originally looking for a solution (back in 2012), we were choosing between Highcharts, Raphael, and Google Charts.

Raphael was out quickly because even though the front page shows demos of charts, it's really not a charting library. It's a generic drawing library. I've used it on other projects and it's great at what it does. It could even be a solid starting point for a custom charting library, but it wasn't right for us. We needed simple charts.

We ended up choosing Google Charts because it was free to use. Highcharts has a nice visual style, but since we were building our product at the time, we simply made sure that our UI would flow well with Google Charts.
Google Charts is a good product. It's widely supported with deep documentation and a large community. But for me, it wasn't customizable enough. When we started with simple charts, it was great, but as we got deeper and more complex, our needs outgrew the library. If I was going forward, I would choose a more barebones library with more freedom and extensibility.
Google Charts will fit well if you need something that's strongly tested and backed by a corporate body. Google Charts is here to stay and will continue to be supported and grow as a product for as long as Google Analytics exists. It won't work well for you if you need a chart library that will deeply integrate with your visual style.