Google’s New Chart API

John Musser, December 6th, 2007

Google continues to innovate on the API front, today releasing an API in a very different category: charting. What is it? From the FAQ: “The Google Chart API is an extremely simple tool that lets you easily create a chart from some data and embed it in a web page. You embed the data and formatting parameters in an HTTP request, and Google returns a PNG image of the chart. Many types of chart are supported, and by making the request into an image tag you can simply include the chart in a web page.” You can see more details on our new Google Chart API Profile here.

Steve Crossan from the Chart API team in Zurich notes via their blog that it’s one of Google’s simplest APIs yet: “Let’s get straight in with an example. This URL creates this image:

“That’s it – no state, no calls, just send your data in an http request and get a png image graph back. Embed the request in an img tag and you’re done.” He notes also this was built as a 20% project to support services like Google Video and Google Finance.” Given that no API key is required, this is indeed a very easy API to start using right away.

Currently supported are line, bar, and pie charts, as well as venn diagrams and scatter plots. You can also add things like fill gradients and markers to charts.


Google does note there’s a limit of 50,000 queries per user per day. But this is a reasonable constraint given that most charts can be generated and then cached on developer’s own servers.

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9 Responses to “Google’s New Chart API”

December 7th, 2007
at 7:45 am
Comment by: Jose Llinares » Blog Archive » Google crea una api para generar gráficos

[...] serie de datos via url la API de “Google Chart” devuelve un imagen (.png) Les dejo el link al artículo para que amplien la información si lo desean. Mi primera impresión, es que puede ser muy útil. [...]

December 10th, 2007
at 11:54 am
Comment by: Kevin Curry

So far I’ve yet to encounter any meaningful discussion of this on the blogosphere. I see lots of recycled reporting, but no insightful opinion. Ironically, most of the comments I’ve seen are back and forth about the 50K limit. What about the max length of a URL for passing data? GET is limited to 1K and POST is limited to 2MB (and can you even use POST?). What about the fact that we are passing clear and open data. I see the main thrust of this as just making it easier to propagate questionable use of data and charts for interest-group advocacy at worst and convenient, possibly insightful snapshots at best. That seems to be what people use Swivel and ManyEyes to do and what we might infer from the opinions of comments like the ones found here:
But believe me…I’m not just criticizing idly. I’m look to have my mind changed either by others or through my own experimentation (

December 13th, 2007
at 7:11 am
Comment by: rapidadverbssuck

I’m not sure if this counts as meaningful discussion, but someone has actually already put the API to good use, if you want to see an example of an application–it’s kind of dorky but pretty cool. Really illustrates the power and simplicity of the API. Also, the proprietary algorithm they use here is amazingly accurate! It’s at — worth checking out.

December 13th, 2007
at 11:34 am
Comment by: John Musser

@Kevin, good reminders about the limitations of HTTP and how that might impact this type of API.

December 13th, 2007
at 11:35 am
Comment by: John Musser

@rapidadverbssuck: Like the fun use of the charts in lovegraph. We’ll get that listed on the site.

December 13th, 2007
at 10:12 pm
Comment by: Kevin Curry

I was encouraged to find this:

January 5th, 2008
at 11:45 am
Comment by: Library 5.0 » Blog Archive » Coolest API, evar

[...] Google Chart API. Can’t wait to play with this one. [...]

April 11th, 2008
at 1:02 am
Comment by: Google Chart API’s New Schematic Maps

[...] scenarios and thanks to a recent upgrade, now you can use the Google Chart API to create them. As we reported earlier, Google’s Chart API is one of the simplest of all Google APIs. By passing parameters in the URL [...]

June 25th, 2008
at 4:31 am
Comment by: hassi58

hey guys, chk this out visifire an amazing charting component powered by silverlight 2 beta 2 offered under open source for free

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John Musser
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Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.