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Microsoft Releases Free Chart Controls

Microsoft has rolled out a software package for the .NET Framework 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008 users that allows developers to quickly setup interactive charts and graphs for applications without writing any code. The Chart Controls software, released earlier this month, adds data visualization tools for developers creating ASP.NET pages or Windows Forms applications.

The free tools can be used to produce interactive charts that simplify complex statistical or financial analysis. The software package includes a comprehensive list of 2D and 3D chart types, customizable visual appearance features, built-in data manipulation and formulas, and annotations capabilities, among other features.

"This should provide a useful (and free) addition to your standard ASP.NET toolkit of functionality, and enable you to easily add richer visualization and data workflow scenarios to your ASP.NET applications," wrote Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's developer corporate vice president, in a blog posting on Monday.

Microsoft acquired the chart control technology in June of last year from Dundas Software, a Toronto, Ontario-based provider of data visualization technologies. Redmond first employed it in its SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services Report Builder 2.0 release. The Data Visualization Group within the SQL Server Reporting Services Team gets credit for creating the new ASP.NET Chart Controls.

For new developers, Microsoft is providing a sample environment with more than 200 samples of ASP.NET and Windows Forms, as well as the C# source code. Every major feature in Chart Controls for the .NET Framework is covered in the samples. Users can see the Chart Controls in action and use the code as templates for their own Web and Windows apps.

Microsoft's Chart Controls for the .NET Framework 3.5 is available as a free download here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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