Tuesday 10 March 2015

Charting Issue/Upgrade

There appears to be an issue with the charts on Golf Predictor. The latest buggy release of possibly the buggiest technology of all time, Adobe Flash, does not seem to render the charts at the correct size on Windows 8.1. However, the same charts appear to render properly on Windows 7 and Windows XP with the latest version of Flash. In addition, this latest version of Flash appears to crash a lot on Windows 8.1, even by its own low standards!

As it happens, I was just beginning the process of replacing the Flash based FusionCharts Free charts on Golf Predictor with a JavaScript alternative when I found this problem. As Flash is a dying technology, it seemed prudent to look into replacing it on the site even before this issue manifested itself. After a comprehensive review of the options available, I have decided to go with the excellent Flot charting library. This library offers the following advantages:
  1. It will render on any modern browser/device, although some older versions of IE may have difficulties (surprise, surprise!). Flash does not work on many mobile devices, most famously Apple devices.
  2. It doesn't require the Flash browser plug-in which is a renowned security risk (in addition to crashing a lot!).
  3. The charts should render quicker.
  4. The charts look very nice, with the possible exception of pie charts, which still look OK.
  5. It's free, which is a definite bonus!
As I am planning to phase in this new charting technology for the 350 or so charts on Golf Predictor, Windows 8.1 users experiencing the charting issue mentioned above will have to hold on for the new charts. While Flot offers some great options, it may not be possible to reproduce all charts exactly as they are now, e.g. 3D bars/pies are not available. However, for the most part, they will look and behave very similar to the current charts.

Replacing all the charts on Golf Predictor is a large undertaking, but you should start to see the new charts appearing over the next few weeks. This roll out will probably start with the golfer prediction page and other data pages (e.g. tournament and player pages), before extended to the view pages (e.g. Prediction Rankings and Season Form pages). I will post again when this roll out commences with a comparison of the old and new charts.

[UPDATE 11 March 2015]
On further testing it appears that FireFox and Chrome are affected by this on Flash version Unbelievably, something actually works on IE (IE 11 at any rate) that doesn't work on another major browser!


John Hohlen said...

Hey Aiden,

What other charting APIs did you consider? I had to swap the few charts on my site when Google switched their chart framework from image based to JavaScript. Did you consider Google Charts and why did you choose Flot over it? Just curious:
I thought the old charts on GP looked awesome when generated. Sorry you were forced to make a change.

Golf Predictor Guru! said...

Hi John,

There were a myriad of options of varying cost and attractiveness! I wanted to go with FusionCharts paid version as it would mean very little work! However, they were looking for a crazy amount of money (per year!). I considered HighCharts (not free, but reasonable) very seriously, until eventually finding Flot. I also looked at many others, including Google Charts, but I thought Flot was the best combination of looks, price and online help.

The Flot charts are looking very good too and I hope you like them when I put the first batch live soon. Getting the different chart types to work was the hard part, but I have done it in a reusable way, which will make the overall job less onerous!