Review: Graphics Server .NET

Graphics Server .NET 1.1
Graphics Server Technologies, LP
Seattle, Washington
(206) 625-6900

Graphics Server .NET is a graphing package for .NET applications with an interesting licensing plan: you pay for a license for each developer, rather than for each server. What you get for the price is a 100% managed code implementation that lets you create a wide variety of spiffy graphs and charts easily. Graphics Server .NET comes in flavors for both Windows forms and WebForms (and you get both in the same package).

The software can draw pretty much any 2D or 3D graph you can think of, from easy stuff like bar charts to exploding pie charts with donut holes to 3D surface charts. Of course you can add data labels and set colors and generally make things look interesting. There's also an event model that makes it easy to do things like explode pie slices when they're clicked on, or to link several charts together in a master-detail relationship.

Underneath it all there's an object model that's pretty powerful: a Chart object can be hooked up to multiple SeriesComponent objects, and you can share SeriesComponent objects between more than one chart so that they update in unison. There are also object models to let you manipulate most anything about the chart. It's easy to load data in code, either from arrays or from a standard OLEDB data provider. They also include a random data generator in the package so you can see what a chart looks like without the bother of hooking up your own data.

One interesting note is that the properties of a chart can easily be exposed to end users at runtime, either as old-style property pages or as a property grid. This makes it easy to let the users of an application alter colors, scales, or even chart types as they try to better understand the data. It also offers an easy way to interactively prototype a chart so you can find something that looks good with your particular data.

Overall, GraphicsServer .NET is an easy way to display data in a variety of attractive formats. There's a free trial version available for download, which includes both a gallery of examples and easy-to-follow tutorials to get you started with both the Windows and Web versions.

Full disclosure: I've done some limited consulting for Graphics Server Technologies, meaning that I do have a financial arrangement with this company. I do not have any compensation directly tied to their sales.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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