Many online shopkeepers want interactive, Flash-based charts that allow them to compare product features, enumerate benefits, or offer an effective pitch. A new online beta tool lets site owners do just that.
The iCharts beta is a web-based, Flash, chart development tool that makes it pretty simple to create, share, and embed interactive charts. Although the beta does have what I consider to be some minor bugs, it clearly has the potential to be a great resource for developing and publishing relatively high-quality, Flash-based charts, and for that potential I am awarding iCharts three and a half out of a possible five stars in this The PeC Review.
An Excellent Concept
The iCharts concept, while not completely unique, is an excellent one, and I became interested in it as soon as I learned about the tool in the fall of 2008. After a brief telephone conversation with the iCharts CEO, Seymour Duncker, I began testing and using iCharts right here at Practical eCommerce.
High Quality Results
iCharts definitely produces some high-quality results. The finished product loads fast and the results can be very attractive (the user has a lot to do with this). Additionally, the charts offer a level of interactivity that would otherwise be hard for many website owners to achieve without the help of a developer.
For many of the charts that we use to accompany articles here at Practical eCommerce, I am entering data from a press release (as in the video associated with this article) or I am copying data from a report. In these instances, entering data into iCharts is no different than typing it into a Microsoft Excel file.
When I already have my data in a table as a comma-separated file, however, I found it hard to upload that information to iCharts. While I am certain it works, it is not intuitive, and I was not able to get satisfactory results.
Better Explanations Are in Order
My inability to upload a comma-separated file was probably due to user error. When I first started using iCharts, I had a couple of issues and Mr. Duncker personally helped me (he actually did the work for me). After his expert touch, things worked beautifully. But I could not find any documentation to show me how to do what he did.
With beta releases it is not uncommon to have less than complete documentation. The iCharts tool is still in development after all, but I hope that more and better explanations and documentation become available as it progresses.
iCharts is a beta tool with a ton of potential and only minor bugs. Based on several months of experience with the tool, I award iCharts three and a half out of a possible five stars in this The PeC Review.