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Using Microsoft Free Chart control in ASP.Net

By Satheesh Babu
Posted On Mar 05,2011
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Category: ASP.Net
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Using Microsoft Chart control in ASP.Net 3.5

Reporting is one of the crucial parts of any data oriented application. These reporting often provide a visual understanding of the business by consolidating the data and sometimes, it also helps to understand it in-depth by drilling down the reports. Very often, we will handle these scenarios by presenting the data in tabular format in our applications. Tabular format is good, but presenting these reports in a pictorial way is quick, better and efficient. When the reports are presented in a pictorial way, for example, drawing a graph or a bar diagram or a pie chart will represent your report in a way that the business users will understand it very easily and quickly.

 For long time, there are no inbuilt chart controls in the .NetFramework that can be used in these scenarios. Most of the time, we will either use a 3rd party chart control or write our own chart control to impress the business users. Both these approach has its own drawbacks, one involves additional cost and other involves additional effort (again, more cost!!).

But, this difficulty was no more since Microsoft released their own free chart controls to use from .NetFramework 3.5 sp1. These chart controls comes as a separate download. This means, you need to download and install these components manually if you require it. This chart controls are visually stunning and feature rich. There are around 35 different chart types like bar, graph, pie charts etc which can be used in both windows and web based application.

 Moving forward, let’s see how to use this chart control in ASP.Net application.

 

Pre-Requisites

As is said earlier, the Microsoft chart controls comes a separate download which needs to be downloaded and installed. There are 2 installers that are required for this, one is the actual chart controls assembly and the other is the add-on for your visual studio 2008 to support the development environment.

Microsoft Chart Controls for Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5

Microsoft Chart Controls Add-on for Microsoft Visual Studio 2008

Another pre-requisite is, the above component will require .NetFramework sp1, make sure you have this before installing the above components.

Once you install the component, it will add a new assembly called System.Web.DataVisualization.dll in your GAC. This has all the related class to create charts in your application.

Once installed, the chart controls should be part of “Data” tab of visual studio toolbox. If you didn’t find it there, then you can add it to your toolbox by right clicking on the toolbox>Choose items..> Select “Chart” under “System.Web.DataVisualization.Charting” namespace in .NetFramework component > then click OK.

With this information and assuming you have installed the above installers, we will move ahead and understand how to use the chart controls in ASP.Net applications using visual studio 2008.

 

Using Microsoft Free Chart control in ASP.Net

Steps

1.      You can create a new Asp.Net website project in your Visual Studio 2008 using the language of your choice. In this article, i have used C# as the language of my choice.

2.      To understand this article, we will use a simple database that has Employee and Department table in App_Data folder. See below,

Using Microsoft Free Chart control in ASP.Net

Using above database; we will display number of employees against each department using chart control.

3.      Drag and drop a chart control into your aspx page. The code should look like below,

<asp:Chart ID="Chart1" runat="server">

        <Series>

            <asp:Series Name="Series1">

            </asp:Series>

        </Series>

        <ChartAreas>

            <asp:ChartArea Name="ChartArea1">

            </asp:ChartArea>

        </ChartAreas>

    </asp:Chart>

 

If you look at the above code, it is required that you need to configure a Series in Series collection and a ChartArea in ChartAreas collection at a minimum to generate the chart.

Before diving into this, let’s first fetch the number of employees in each department. This can be done with either a DataSource control or by writing your own ADO.Net code. Let’s see both in this article, but for now we will stick to SqlDataSource control.

4.      Drag a SqlDataSource control from the “Data” tab of Visual Studio toolbar. Configure the SqlDataSource control through “Configure Data Source...” wizard to fetch the data from the Sql express database added into your solution. In “Configure the Select statement” step select “Specify a custom SQL statement or stored procedure” and provide the below query,

SELECT COUNT(e.EmpID) AS EmpCount, d.Dept FROM Employees AS e INNER JOIN Department AS d ON e.Dept = d.DeptID

GROUP BY d.Dept

 

The final control will look like,

<asp:SqlDataSource ID="SqlDataSource1" runat="server"

        ConnectionString="<%$ ConnectionStrings:ConnectionString %>" SelectCommand="SELECT COUNT(e.EmpID) AS EmpCount, d.Dept

FROM     Employees AS e INNER JOIN

                  Department AS d ON e.Dept = d.DeptID

GROUP BY d.Dept"></asp:SqlDataSource>

 

5.      Set the DataSourceID of the Chart control to ID of our configured SqlDataSource control. To do this, select the smart tag of the chart control in the design viewer and configure “Choose Data Source:” property.

6.      Now, it’s time to configure the Series and ChartAreas collection. This can be done in 2 ways, by directly typing the code in <Series></Series> and <ChartAreas></ChartAreas> or by using visual studio property window. We will use the second approach in this article since it is easy and we are yet to know the properties it supports. It’s good to know, what Series and ChartArea is about before configuring it.

      Series are chart elements that store a collection of related data points and also have an associated chart type (i.e. chart types are specified on a            series basis). It is here we indicate the column name to pickup for X axis  and Y axis data to draw the chart.

      ChartArea are chart components that are used to plot a chart's data. Here, we can specify the entire configurations related to the charts like, axis        title, appearance, etc. Hence, a series can be associated to ChartArea. A combination of Series and ChartArea will help the chart control to draw the           chart using coordinates defined in Series and appearance of plot area defined in ChartArea.

      A Chart control can have an unlimited number of ChartArea objects. Chart areas can also be overlayed on top of one another.

      Now, let’s configure these 2 collections. Go to property window of the Chart control and click the “...” button in Series property. This will open a    dialog that allows you to add new Series object and configure it. By default, when it opens it will display a Series object. Select your chart type in      ChartType property; by default it will use “Column”. Scroll to Data Source section and configure XValueMember as Dept and YValueMember to     EmpCount. Click OK.

      To configure ChartArea, click the “...” button in ChartAreas property. This will open the dialog similar to previous step. Again click the “...” button in          Axes collection property. Select X axis and provide a title “Department”. Select Y axis and provide the title as “Number of Employees”. Click OK > OK.       This will generate the below code in your aspx page.

<asp:Chart ID="Chart1" runat="server" DataSourceID="SqlDataSource1"

        Height="600px" Palette="None" Width="600px">

        <series>

            <asp:Series Name="Series1" XValueMember="Dept"

                YValueMembers="EmpCount" ChartArea="ChartArea1" ChartType="Column" >

            </asp:Series>          

        </series>

        <chartareas>

            <asp:ChartArea Name="ChartArea1">

                <AxisY Title="Number of Employees">

                </AxisY>

                <AxisX Title="Department">

                </AxisX>          

            </asp:ChartArea>          

        </chartareas>

    </asp:Chart>

 

7.      That’s it. Execute your application and see it in action.  Below is the output generated by the chart control for our data.

Using Microsoft Free Chart control in ASP.Net

 

Once executed, the chart control will basically render a PNG image in IMG tag with the chart image like below,

  <img id="Chart1" src="/ChartDemo/ChartImg.axd?i=chart_f12224054e15413b9ad73d54dfd901b6_1.png
&amp;g=9f88a9e3882f4fdf9ad042ff6e61de74" alt="" style="height:300px;width:300px;border-width:0px;" />

 

 

Enabling 3D chart

To enable 3D charts, go to ChartArea Collection editor [click the “...” button in ChartAreas property]. Set (Enable 3D) to true under Area3DStyle. Refer below image,

Using Microsoft Free Chart control in ASP.Net

 

That’s it. Execute and see it in action.

 


Recent Articles

Programmatically binding Chart

As is aid earlier, we can also configure the Chart control in code dynamically to plot the chart. The below does that,

CodeBehind

protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)

    {

        Chart1.DataSource = GetData();

        Chart1.DataBind();

     

        Chart1.Series.Add(new Series("Series1"));

        Chart1.Series["Series1"].ChartType = SeriesChartType.Column;

        Chart1.Series["Series1"].XValueMember = "Dept";

        Chart1.Series["Series1"].YValueMembers = "EmpCount";

       

        Chart1.ChartAreas.Add(new ChartArea("ChartArea1"));

        Chart1.ChartAreas["ChartArea1"].AxisY.Title = "No of Employees";

        Chart1.ChartAreas["ChartArea1"].AxisX.Title = "Department";

    }

    public DataTable GetData()

    {

        string query = "SELECT COUNT(e.EmpID) AS EmpCount,d.Dept FROM Employees AS e INNER JOIN Department AS d ON e.Dept = d.DeptID GROUP BY d.Dept";

        SqlConnection con = new SqlConnection(ConfigurationManager.
ConnectionStrings["ConnectionString"].ConnectionString);

        SqlDataAdapter ada = new SqlDataAdapter(query, con);

        DataTable dt = new DataTable();

        ada.Fill(dt);

        return dt;

    }

 

ASPX

<asp:Chart ID="Chart1" runat="server">      

</asp:Chart>

 

More Customization

Microsoft chart control offers more customization and it is feature rich. Just walk through the property window and try playing around it. For example, to show different charts with the same data in a Chart control like below,

Using Microsoft Free Chart control in ASP.Net

 

We can configure 2 series with 2 chart type and 2 ChartArea. See the code below,

<asp:Chart ID="Chart1" runat="server" DataSourceID="SqlDataSource1"

        Height="600px" Palette="None" Width="600px">

        <series>

            <asp:Series Name="Series1" XValueMember="Dept"

                YValueMembers="EmpCount" ChartArea="ChartArea1" ChartType="Column" >

            </asp:Series>

            <asp:Series ChartArea="ChartArea2" ChartType="Area" Name="Series2"

                XValueMember="Dept" YValueMembers="EmpCount">

            </asp:Series>

        </series>

        <chartareas>

            <asp:ChartArea Name="ChartArea1">

                <AxisY Title="Number of Employees">

                </AxisY>

                <AxisX Title="Department">

                </AxisX>

                <Area3DStyle Enable3D="True" />

            </asp:ChartArea>

            <asp:ChartArea Name="ChartArea2">

                <AxisX Title="Department">

                </AxisX>

            </asp:ChartArea>

        </chartareas>

    </asp:Chart>

 

Using same ChartArea for both series will overlay the charts. Like below,

 

To know more, download the samples that demonstrate all the features of Chart control from here.

 

Downloads

Download source

 

Conclusion

The addition of new chart control from .Netframework made the framework more feature rich and in turn reduced the cost of purchasing a 3rd party chart controls. Thanks to Microsoft for adding such a useful control to the .net control set. Download the code and see it in action.

Happy coding!!

 

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Comments
Ms.
Nice tutorial! Another very good example of asp.net chart control is shieldui, you can take a look here: https://demos.shieldui.com/web/area-chart/axis-marker
Ms.
Nice tutorial! Another very good example of asp.net chart control is shieldui, you can take a look here: https://demos.shieldui.com/web/area-chart/axis-marker
chart control
Good One!!!