Free - Make Some Charts!

I have been a Dreamweaver user since 1999. I have been a Team Macromedia member/Adobe Community Expert for Dreamweaver or UltraDev since the end of 2001. I have worked with a fair number of extensions over the years, I have watched or worked with a number of extension developers and I have even made a few extensions of my own.

Editors note: you need DMXzone Google Charts to apply the lessons learned in this article

My point in starting this article with this brief personal history is to illustrate that, when you've used a variety of extensions that do everything from insert some JavaScript or a TimeStamp to full blown menus and server behaviors, you learn what to look for in the extension experience and you quickly recognize when an extension is great, as opposed to when it's not. When I look at a new extension, I am looking for three things: easy and quick installation, quick to figure out and actually start using, and something that makes my Dreamweaver better without taking it over or adding 6,000 files to get the job done.

If you've investigated Google Charts, you have probably been impressed with some fairly nice looking possibilities for laying out data in a visual way that departs from the usual table or grid. You may also be thinking "wow, this looks cool, but how would I ever do something like that?"

Dreamweaver developers out there can wonder no more. The Google Charts extension from the DMXzone team has put Google Charts functionality right into the program you live and breathe with if you have either DW8 or DW CS3. The DMXzone Google Charts Extension meets all three of my requirements nicely. Installation was quick and easy with the MXP provided and popup activation with my serial number. Two minutes and one restart of the program later, I was ready to roll. I have a 24/7 broadband connection which means I'm always on. This is important because the Google Charts Extension does require an internet connection to work since it has to access Google Code to make the charts. I selected a chart type from the dropdown menu visible from the DMXzone tab added to the Insert Bar, set a couple of parameters on the user interface and boom .. I had a chart on my page. Nice! And now it's time to get my hands dirty and figure out how this easy to use, nice looking toy can enhance my work product. Read on.

How It Works

Create and save a new document in Dreamweaver, Then select the DMXzone tab (or menu item) from the Insert bar and you'll see the types of charts you can create on the dropdown menu (figure 1).

The options available encompass pretty much any kind of chart you would want to make. We'll try each of them, but first, it's a good idea to look at the options and see what works best in what situation. A picture is worth 1,000 words so let's take a look at the product of each option and you will quickly get a better idea of when you might want to use each of the various options. The menu has divided them into types of charts, with the first group being line charts, the second group pie charts and the last group bar charts.

Typically, a bar chart is good for showing frequencies or values for different categories. A pie chart is best for showing percentage values as a slice of a pie and line charts are two-dimensional scatterplots of ordered observations where the observations are connected following their order.

Fig 1: The DMXzone Google Charts Menu


Nancy Gill

In early 1996, Nancy Gill picked up her first book on HTML and permanently said goodbye to the legal field. She has been busy ever since developing web sites for businesses, organizations and social groups in Central California and occasionally beyond. Nancy has served as a member of Team Macromedia since late 2001, first with UltraDev and then moving to Dreamweaver when the programs were consolidated in 2002. She also serves as Assistant Manager for the Central California Macromedia User's Group.
Nancy is the co-author of Dreamweaver MX: Instant Trouble-Shooter and technical editor for several Dreamweaver and Contribute related books, including the well-known Dreamweaver MX 2004: A Complete Reference. She also penned the first ever Contribute article for Macromedia's Own Devnet "Getting Up to Speed with Contribute in 10 Minutes".

Nancy has three children, two in college and one in high school. Offline, she enjoys various sporting activities, is a wild NFL football fan and sings in the church choir.

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