A Flash chart is an animation that depicts a standard statistical chart (e.g. bar chart, pie chartetc.) using Adobe Flash. Flash charts are generated using a Flash charting tool and they can be incorporated in websites or in desktop applications. Flash charts can be viewed on all computers that have Adobe Flash player installed on them. This makes Flash charts widely accessible as Adobe Flash player is installed on almost 99% of computers worldwide.
Flash charts offer a wide range of features which help in optimizing the data visualization experience. Drill-down is a prominent feature of Flash charts which helps in building charts that are sensitive to mouse clicks. Using drill-down it is possible view additional data associated with each of the plots displayed on the chart. Flash charts also support tooltips, animation and offer many other types of interactive and aesthetic features. Flash charts are also capable of dynamic update. This means that the chart generator component can be linked to a dynamic data source. Dynamically updated charts are widely used on stock market websites to show current values of stocks. In most cases dynamic update is facilitated with the help of server side scripting languages like PHP, ASP.NET, ColdFusion, JSP etc.
Flash Charting tools are now offered by numerous vendors and Flash based data visualization has become a thriving industry in itself. Aioob Flash Chart is one such free data visualization tool that adds trend lines (Moving Averages, Linear, Exponential, Logarithmic, Power and Polynomial functions) and forecasts your data, using the built in wizard.
Types of Flash charting tools
Flash charting tools/software can be classified into following two types:
- SWF Generation Tool: SWF Generation tools helps in creating an SWF file (Flash movie) that depicts an animated and interactive chart. Essentially, these tools provide an authoring environment through which a chart is configured and an SWF file is generated. Although these tools generate aesthetically pleasing charts, they can only be used for creation of static charts (where data remains constant).
- Data Driven Flash Charting Tools: Data driven Flash charting tools are widely deployed in websites and web applications. Essentially, a data driven Flash charting tool comprises a collection of SWF files which are responsible for generating charts. The SWF files generate charts with the help of data and configuration provided through XML or JSON. Data driven Flash charting tools support dynamic data and can be integrated with server-side technologies like ASP.NET, PHP, ColdFusion etc.