Royalty Free Charting
We've been really busy getting Optimizer ready for its first beta release. All things considered, the final few weeks of development went pretty smoothly. We managed to release the Beta in time for the EMEA user conference with a pretty good collection of features and there were not many surprises. For those not familiar with Optimizer, it is an application that assists with the management of ArcGIS installations and related infrastructure. A key component of Optimizer is its reports. Most of Optimizer's reports display at least one chart to help visualize the data Optimizer collects. Below is an example of one of those charts.
We use line, pie and bar charts and a few combinations of bar and line charts - nothing out of the ordinary. What was surprising was the amount of time I had to spend looking for an easy to use, reliable, aesthetically pleasing chart control. There just did not seem to be very many good quality candidates. A few products I evaluated looked promising until I saw their licensing terms. Many products required royalty payments for every Optimizer license we sold. I was surprised because we're talking about a chart control, not some complicated piece of intellectual property that implements a proprietary algorithm. Other candidates were full-featured and buggy or reliable and stylistically awful. In the end, I settled on XtraCharts by DevExpress. XtraCharts are easy to use, reasonably priced ($295 including source code), look awesome and are royalty free. If you need to display charts in an ASP.NET web page or WinForms application, check out DevExpress. You will be glad you did.