Improve Graph / Chart tool
Current graph tool in Illustrator has many limitations that need fixing. Following are some of the problems in Graph tool:
No value labels
Data window that requires you to remove characters such as commas
Resetting of chart upon making changes
Resizing issues (e.g. with bounding box)
Missing basic chart types like *****
No support for templates
Also the tool doesn't support making new chart types, such as attaching data to any attribute of the artwork.
Please share your thoughts on the following:
1. Would it make sense to have a separate desktop app, just to create charts, and bring them inside Illustrator or InDesign? It may not be on cloud.
2. Or would you rather have us work on building it within Illustrator?
Miles Stevens commented
Yeah assuming Project Lincoln still stands, your suggesting is being addressed :)
Such tool is being developed by Adobe. Have you heard of http://data-illustrator.com?
It's in early stages. The problem with the char tool inside Illustrator is that is really destructive as soon as you start formatting. It is good for small charts, but it is unusable when you need to keep it linked to more complex databases.
Meanwhile, I would look at Datawrapper, Flourish, RAWGraphs, etc.
Ian Aberle commented
With Adobe Max coming up in a couple of weeks, hopefully, there will be some movement on this. I've found using Datawrapper <https://www.datawrapper.de>, a good solution in the interim, but would love to lose that extra step and have something I can directly manipulate in Illustrator or as an extension of the suite.
Simon Brown commented
This thread (and the associated comments) has been running for a year now.
What's the feedback? Why haven't we heard some sort of progress report? It makes the whole discussion/consultation a bit pointless if no-one's listening...
Adobe, please tell us where this is heading!
David Creamer commented
A separate app that works like a "plug-in" in both Illustrator and InDesign would be good for me. Much like Microsoft Graph works between all the Office programs.
I would also second Sandee Cohen's suggestions.
ARE YOU EVER GOING TO GET BETTER MESSAGES AND ADD A PREVIEW FUNCTION SO WE CAN SEE CHANGES BEFORE WE APPLY THEM IN CHARTS AND GRAPHS?????????
Karen Saunders commented
When will you release project Lincoln? That would solve so many problems. can either be a separate app (so long as they are vector elements) or within illustrator. Please hurry up
Wes Rand commented
I agree with most of the comments here. There have been problems with the charting tool that have existed for far too long:
• Inability to scale with other objects
• Inability to handle data with commas, dollar signs, etc.
• Inability to maintain styling after data changes
• Lack of data labels
• Strange limit on size of numbers it can handle
• Errors in size of objects the charting tool draws
I would be fine with a stand alone charting program but probably would favor keeping it in Illustrator.
Having the chart linked to external data would be fantastic (Excel but also Google Sheets and other formats.)
Adding more chart types would also be a great update (Sankey, tree, bullet ... dare hope for Coropleth and other location-based chart types?)
Sandee "Vectorbabe" Cohen commented
I've shared some of this with the AI team, but here are my dream features for Charts and Graphs.
First, I actually don't want it embedded in Illustrator. I would like it as a stand-alone application. But the window for this application could open inside Illustrator. Think of what it's like to edit a symbol, group, pattern, etc.
But, if necessary, the application could also be opened and used without Illustrator running. The tools would be limited, but the application would run fast.
The data would be linked to Excel files. The users could update from Excel, or decline.
The data could also come from simple tab/comma delimited files. This is very helpful. For instance, I've got a medical device that exports only CSV data. I don't want to have to import it into Excel to then export it out.
Because the application is stand-alone in its own window, it should also be able to be opened in InDesign.
Both the AI and ID graphs would be linked to the original data. Because it is a separate file, salesmen and others could easily modify the data and then the designer would update the final project.
In addition, the elements in the window would be selectable and features such as AI filters and ID animations could be applied.
This would allow users to have dynamic, animated graphs, for Publish Online as well as FXL e-pubs.
Of course the application would have to be developed by both the AI and ID teams. But since you're all in India, that shouldn't be hard. ;-)
I'm researching for my agency as we just acquired an insurance company client who's going to have an incredible number of charts and graphs to produce, then likely edit continually. I fear the design department won't ever see their families again if we can't quickly produce and edit sophisticated and stylish charts linked to live data.
I would be fine with a separate Adobe app to create rich charts/graphs to export IF there was a way to richly style them in the app or if styling changes in the other programs would stick on graphics updated in the separate app. Basically, keep it in Illustrator so I don't have to change the colors by hand every time the client changes a number OR let me change the number in the separate app and let it populate to wherever the graph was imported.
In another forum, I just found out there had been a much richer chart tool back in Illustrator CC 2015, and I watched a demo video. Oh, lordie, that tool would calm my anxiety if it had been left in.
Mark Gould commented
My vote would be to have all of this in a separate app.
Great work on these d3 charts! Also thx for the added workflow detail, this helps a lot. Mapping your process to ours – everything is great until the chart has to "unlink" with the data connection when we hit SVG crowbar, then export to AI for cosmetics and finally placement into Indesign. There is value as the data is tied directly to the basic chart, removing manual cut/paste errors which is great. However, we've now lost the link to data when we hit illustrator, after cosmetics are applied. So what happens when the Splunk (or other) data server engine updates the Excel file, after the chart is built and placed into Indesign layout? We would then have to build the chart all over again, we are still manual. Here is our "end-state-goal" – to be able to have Co. data fed from Splunk (or other) into .xlsx format (or other), have Illustrator link to that file and stay linked to that file, while all manor of unique cosmetics are applied to it. Then when the data gets updated, we get a notification it's out of data as far down the chain as indesign even! The chart remains tied to the live data until packaged for printer. In fact, the data file links (.xlsx, .txt etc.) are included in the links folder when packaged ... that sort of thing. Of course all of the interface/functionality details would be modernized as well (doesn't have to be all at once). So that's our hope! We keep the creativity of AI, but add the robust d3/Excel type features, and the data is always linkable.
Thanks for the FT Vocab, and d3 reference, a deep resource for sure! Especially for those .js enabled and on the programmer side. Even though these charts may be printed technically, they do not offer the same hands-on visual creative design and control as AI for print/PDF design. Illustrator fuses designer creativity with data and metrics. If data retrieval, linking, initial render and options were modernized, matching the range of data visualizations as Excel, you'd have a major winner. As a previous poster mentioned, data is controlled and protected, and should not sit on random cloud servers outside a users protected network. So glad there is a U turn on that. If Microsoft wanted to, they could fill this hole with their Excel engine. Just fill-out the designer features, and make their charts export into specific vector sizes and formats, for print purposes.
Scott Wallace, you might like to take a look at the FT Visual Vocabulary. https://github.com/ft-interactive/chart-doctor/tree/master/visual-vocabulary. This is backed by a series of d3 templates that allows publication in a series of styles depending on the publication medium (web, print, social etc)
Joely Tafanalo commented
How far is Project Lincoln??? Any news??? There are so many good online Chart-Tools/Platforms right now – but Illustrator still in the 80's regarding Charts… :-(
I work for a Fortune 500 Co. We produce an annual report with ~100 charts by hand. There is a major demand for:
• Links to data for automated update and reduction of human cut/paste errors
• Mirroring of Excel in terms of basic functioning and control over elements like trend lines, inverse graphs.
• No bugs, such as scales that go out of alignment upon refresh, causing rework.
This is a perfect candidate for a separate app. I think when it is framed as a separate app, the features are more robust. When it is framed as a part of illustrator the tendency is to limit function so as not to overwhelm the basic user. My suggestion is to create a new app, that is highly robust, then also update illustrator or even remove the charting function altogether, so people realize the two really should not be under the same roof anymore. The big sell is that you are freeing a ton of people and orgs their greatest resource "Time."
SOME things about the Illustrator graph tool are great – the ability to create infographic graph elements that can slide specifically. But the rest of the process is almost a specialisation to the point that my partner gets frustrated with the multiple iterations required sometimes to just complete one graph.
Can we just have a graph tool capable of what Excel did 10 years ago?
Nguyen Minh commented
Can we just have a graph tool capable of what Excel did 10 years ago?