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How to Configure the Native Chart Web Part in SharePoint

downloadThe chart web part in SharePoint makes it easy for users to create beautiful, interactive charts with different data sources. What’s more – it also allows users to make changes to data sources and see the changes reflected in the charts instantly, making the tool nothing short of a lifesaver during a boardroom presentation. That said, this add-on needs to be configured properly, before it can do its job. Here’s how to go about it.

Adding the chart web part

Before the web part can be used, it has to be inserted into the SharePoint page where the user wants to build and display the chart(s). This can be done using the Chart Web Part control, available under the category Business Data. Adding the web part makes two options available for further configuration:

  1. Data & Appearance Advanced Properties
  2. Connecting the chart to the data source

Under Data & Appearance, there is an option – Connect Chart to Data. Clicking on it opens up a wizard, which allows the chart web part to be connected to one of the following data sources:

  1. Another web part that can provide data
  2. A SharePoint list
  3. An Excel workbook
  4. External content type defined in BDC

Once a source is selected, the same wizard allows the user to connect the chart to the data source. After connecting, the user need to retrieve and filter the data before creating the chart. Data filtering can be done with an existing column used as parameter, or by hitting the + sign next to the Filter Data option and mentioning name, type and value of the selected parameter. Next, the user has the choice to configure the data series, set properties like the fields to be displayed on the X and Y axes, perform analysis on data such as adding a moving average to the data set, and so on.

Determining how the chart would look

To customize the look of the chart, the user needs to click on Appearance & Data and then on Customize Your Chart. Doing so brings up a 3 step wizard. First off, this wizard allows the user to choose the chart type. Once the chart type is chosen, the right hand panel shows a wide range of chart templates for the user to select the most ideal one. Then, the user can select the Chart Appearance Properties, which grants control over the drawing style, appearance theme, size, format, and even the transparency of the chart. Chart element properties, accessible once the appearance has been configured, lets the user define the chart legend, title, grids and axes, hyperlinks, tool tips, markers and labels.

Finally, it is time to fine tune the chart

Clicking on the Advanced Properties presents the user with plenty of options to improve the look and feel of the chart. Available choices include annotations, legends, titles, chart areas, series, toolbar, and even properties of the context menus. As the user chooses each element to configure, the changes show up in the chart area immediately.

Smarter Way to Build SharePoint Charts From Lists, Libraries, or External Data Sources

Building a SharePoint chart is an intelligent way to visualize data from various sources, like SP lists, libraries, and external sources. Instead of staring at an ocean of information, decision makers can quickly make sense of prevailing trends, brainstorm on ways to improve efficiency and profits without compromising on quality, and a whole lot more. Not surprisingly, this makes data visualization an invaluable tool for decision makers in the boardroom.

SharePoint charts can be built from various data sources, including SharePoint lists, Excel worksheets, SQL Server/Oracle databases, and even from many other external data sources via BDC or ODBC connectivity. The following are a few ways that work better and faster than others.

Bringing back chart web part-SP list combo

Anyone working with SharePoint has made use of lists at some point of time, in order to easily collate information. SharePoint 2013 onwards, users have to connect these lists to SharePoint’s Excel services web part to create charts, as the native chart web part has been removed from SharePoint. This can rob the user of a lot of options, as well as varieties of charts, which were present in earlier versions of SharePoint.

However, all is not lost. If a user exports a project that was using chart web part in SP 2010, then the web part will also be exported. Following this step, the user can make use of the discontinued web part without any problem.

Integrating SharePoint library with Excel

A Microsoft Excel workbook can be published directly to a SharePoint library. Once that is done, data from the workbook can be used to create charts and graphs, from a centralized data repository. If the user is working with SP 2013 or later versions, then this step might seem useless as far as creating charts is concerned, since charts will have to be created using Excel services anyway. However, if the chart web part has been exported from SP 2010 beforehand, or a third party tool is being used to create the charts, then this step can really speed up chart creation and simplify data management as well.

Using third party tools to create charts

A third party tool that does not require the user to write codes to create charts can save a lot of time for busy executives. Not only that, these tools often support a wide variety of data sources, allowing the user to choose a data source that he prefers to use – from SP lists to Excel workbooks, and even database files from popular RDBMS suites. Such tools can be used to create/modify charts on the fly, and even update them in real time as the user modifies data sources when necessary.

These are three of the ways to create SharePoint charts and graphs from different data sources, efficiently and quickly. Among these, while exporting the chart web part from SP 2010 can help users, making use of a third party tool is by far the most convenient way for creating charts and graphs in newer versions of SharePoint.


This entry was posted on January 17, 2016 and tagged , , , .