Turn data into charts and dashboards with Jolicharts

What it does: Jolicharts is a Web-based service that helps you turn data stored in spreadsheets, JSON or databases into charts, graphs and maps. You can add and arrange multiple charts on a dashboard, and choose to share an entire dashboard or just a chart. The charts can also be embedded into an external website.

The service is free for up to 50 Mbytes of data and a maximum of 5 data sources per dashboard. Paid plans start at 29 euros per month for 2G of data.

You can see my sample dashboard of global smartphone sales or more robust sample dashboard of global smartphone sales, or more robust dashboards in the Jolicharts gallery.

What's cool: While there are plenty of other cloud data visualization services, few others offer a dashboard option for multiple charts. And, the dashboards are pretty easy to arrange, with interactive chart placing and resizing. Chart color and number formats can be changed.

You can add filter boxes so users can interact with multiple visualizations at once. And, you can easily add text, photos and videos to a dashboard.

In addition to uploading data manually, you can connect to a database or use the Jolicharts API to automatically send data to a chart datasource within Jolicharts.

And, even with the free version, you can choose to keep your charts and dashboards private.

Data is hosted on Amazon Web Services and the visualizations can be viewed on mobile devices.

Drawbacks: Documentation and labeling can be a little confusing ("data fragment" would not have been my first guess for what they call an uploaded Excel file). While there are several types of charts, customization is a bit more limited than I'd like -- I didn't find a way to customize the rollover info windows beyond choosing the name of the data point (sales or revenue), for example, or to remove the bar chart grid lines.

Skill level: Beginner (intermediate if you want to pull in data using the API).

Runs on: A Web browser.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a way to create and share basic charts and dashboards in the cloud, Jolicharts may be worth a look, especially if you want to pull in data from another application that can export in JSON.

Want more free data tools? See my chart of 30+ free tools for data visualization and analysis.

Creating visualizations with Jolicharts

Part of the interface for creating a visualization with Jolicharts.

Sample chart of global mobile phone market share in Q4 2012, data from Gartner.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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