Some people say “FileMaker: it’s great for crunching numbers and putting together decent reports, but a charting and graphing tool it ain’t!” How untrue this is. There are many ways to produce graphs and charts with FileMaker Pro, either by using FileMaker only solutions or plug-ins, or by integrating with external applications like Microsoft Excel. Here are a few possibilities.
ChartMaker Pro is another great product from Brian Dunning. This FileMaker-based (no plug-ins required) solution allows you to create great dynamic line, pie, bar (2D and 3D), and scatter charts. And the unlocked version lets you integrate the solution into your own database system, too. This is a simple, elegant, easy-to-use charting solution that you can get running quickly.
CC Gantt is Cleveland Consulting’s simple, easy-to-use add-on FileMaker-based Gantt chart database (no plug-ins required). It can help you plot tasks, projects, or other milestones on a Gantt chart — a kind of chart that shows you tasks over time and flows from left to right.
Project managers often use charts like these to see how a project’s tasks follow one another over time. The charts show start and finish times, dates, milestones, which tasks are dependent on others, and so on until a project is complete.
The full version also allows you to show a red “today” line on the Gantt chart so you can see where you are in a project’s timeline and to plot estimated vs. actual starting and ending dates.
CC Vbar is a simple FileMaker Pro–only solution that allows you to plug in a bunch of numeric values and generate some slick looking, three-dimensional bar charts. The full version is completely unlocked so you can integrate the database quickly into your existing database system.
When you first see this tool you’ll probably think how cool it would be to have constantly refreshing, live graphs of a company’s sales figures (by department or sales rep?) that look like these projected onto a wall. Or you could use FileMaker to run a telethon and show a graph of money collected toward a goal (or individual challenges) via a digital dashboard that all telethon volunteers had instant access to.
Function Junction is another free product from Brian Dunning that allows you to plot a function (you know, those crazy trigonometric functions) on a graph. It’s very simple to use and understand.
xmChart, from X2Max, is a plug-in that allows you to create just about any kind of graph you can think of based on data stored in a FileMaker database. The following list shows the kind of charts you can make (shown are xmChart’s names for the charts it can “do”).
Some of the Chart types available with the xmChart Plug-In:
xmChart actually comes with an example database showing almost 200 different chart variations! Here’s what some of them look like:
In addition, just about every element of each chart is customizable. You can color any line, shape, background, or text any way you like, and you can choose from many different element and grid styles. You can also choose exactly how you want the axis, legend, chart titles, and graphics to look.
This plug-in can do some amazing things for your database solution and it’s a cost-effective way to produce charts in FileMaker Pro. With the comprehensive manual that comes with xmChart, you should be up and running in no time, too.
oAzium Charts is a great FileMaker plugin that can add the following charts to your database: Gantt, high-low, horizontal bar, horizontal stacked bar, line, pie, scatter, vertical bar, and vertical stacked bar charts. Simply install the plug-in, download and purchase the type of chart you want (you can also buy all chart types at a considerable discount), and plug the chart functionality into your existing database solution. The easy-to-read documentation and simple example databases that come with each chart type should help you get started right away.
These charts also allow you to customize colors and styles. These charts would be quite useful when integrated with a FileMaker generated subsummary report.
You learned how to link FileMaker with Microsoft Excel to create a pivot chart and table using Excel’s powerful, built-in charting capabilities. Well, once you know how to set up this link the sky’s the limit when it comes to the types of charts you can set up in Excel. You might also want to check out Datavations’ Microsoft Office Integration Kit, which gives you (among many other things) the code and documentation you need to automate the creation of pivot tables in Excel with data from your FileMaker database system.
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