G. Wade Johnson > SVG-Sparkline > SVG::Sparkline::Cookbook

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NAME ^

SVG::Sparkline::Cookbook - Performing specific tasks with SVG::Sparklines

VERSION ^

This document describes SVG::Sparkline version 0.34.

INTRODUCTION ^

This Cookbook was conceived as a way to make usage of the SVG::Sparkline module somewhat easier even if you do not spend a lot of time learning it.

The first thing to realize about this module is that it is not intended to be a full mapping/charting/graphing tool. If you need fancy markers, lots of data sets, 3D effects, and so on, you should look for a more general graphing module. Searching CPAN for Chart or Graph should expose several likely modules.

ON SPARKLINES ^

The sparklines concept is described in Edward Tufte's book Beautiful Evidence. An excerpt of the book relating to sparklines can be found on his website http://www.edwardtufte.com/.

The important portions of Tufte's explanation are that a sparkline is

To the extent possible, I have used these principles to guide me in the features I decide to include or exclude from the module.

Starting at the bottom, sparklines should be word-sized. We are talking about something that can easily be embedded in text or a table. Sparklines are not about page-sized graphics with lots of detail.

This size issue leads to the simple aspect. It is hard to get hundreds of individual data points into a word-sized graphic. Likewise a small graphic containing 20 different datasets is likely to be overly complex. Part of the effect of the sparkline is that it is simple enough that you can grasp it quickly without need for extended study. This is only possible if the graphic is as simple as possible.

Finally, Tufte says a sparkline should be intense. The data being displayed should be dynamic enough that it shows important characteristics even after simplifying the graphic and making it word sized.

A horizontal line, or bar graph with minimal variation is probably not going to be very intense. Likewise a graphic with too much variation will overwhelm the eye and lose the effect.

RECIPES ^

Basic Configuration

There are a few configuration items that apply to all sparkline types.

How to choose a Sparkline Type

Choosing the sparkline type is a judgement call based on the data you need to display and the look you want to convey. The following suggestions may help you decide which type is right for your circumstance.

Binary outcomes

The Whisker sparkline type easily displays a series of binary outcomes, such as wins/losses on a game or coin flips (heads/tails).

Discrete data

The Bar sparkline type displays discrete data well. When attempting to compare a number of values, Bar displays work well. When continuous data has been aggregated into a small number of categories, (e.g. rainfall amount per month for twelve months), a Bar sparkline also works well.

If the discrete data describes a range of high and low values (two values for each data point), then the RangeBar sparkline type is more appropriate.

Time-series data

When attempting to display continuously changing data or time-series data, the Line and Area sparkline types are most appropriate.

If the continuous data describes a range of high and low values (two values for each data point), then the RangeArea sparkline type is more appropriate.

Creating basic sparklines

I want to create a sparkline for time-series data.

Let's say you have a set of data points that represent regular samples of a time-series data set in the array @samples. To create a simple sparkline, you would do the following:

   my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Line => { values => \@samples } );

If the line isn't dramatic enough, you could do an Area sparkline, as follows:

   my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Area => { values => \@samples } );

I want to create a sparkline for discrete data.

Let's say you have a set of data points that represent a discrete data set in the array @samples. To create a simple sparkline, you would do the following:

   my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Bar => { values => \@samples } );

I want to create a sparkline for wins and losses for sports team.

Some data doesn't really have a range of values beyond a binary choice: high/low, win/loss, heads/tails, etc. The appropriate choice for this is the Whisker sparkline type.

If you had a teams win/loss record in an array of '+' and '-' characters called @games, you could build the sparkline like this:

   my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Whisker => { values => @games } );

I want to plot two related time series data streams (highs/lows).

The RangeArea sparkline type is just what you need. First, you need to get the data into the proper form. The RangeArea type expects data as an arrayref of arrayrefs containing pairs of numeric data.

Changing the display

Once you have sparkline type, you may need to customize the sparkline.

How do I make the sparkline taller/shorter?

The SVG::Sparkline constructor supports an optional height parameter that controls the pixel height of the sparkline. Since the data is automatically scaled to fit the height, this attribute also helps determine the resolution that is displayed.

   my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Line => { values =>\@samples, height=>18 } );

The above code generates a sparkline 1.5x as tall as the default. Although SVG supports (practically) infinitely scalable graphics, You should tend to make your sparklines close to the height of the text you are embedding it within.

If you need graphs substantially larger than that, another graphing library with more customizability is probably a better choice.

How do I extend/reduce the sparkline horizontally?

The SVG::Sparkline constructor supports an optional width parameter that specifies the width of the sparkline in pixels. SVG::Sparkline uses this parameter to scale the sparkline horizontally. For Line and Area sparklines this changes the horizontal resolution of the data. For Bar and Whisker sparklines this changes the width of the bar or whisker.

   my $sl => SVG::Sparkline->new( Bar => { values=>\@rainfall, width=>60 } );

Assuming that we have one rainfall entry per month in the @rainfall array, this would give us a 60 pixel wide sparkline, with each bar being 5 pixels wide.

How do I change the color of the sparkline?

The SVG::Sparkline constructor supports an optional color parameter that specifies the color of the display element. The value of this parameter must be in a format that SVG understands.

   my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Area => { values=>\@depth, color=>'#0000ff' } );

This would make an area graph with the filled area being blue. See the recipe "How do I specify a color for the data, background, or marks?" for legal color formats.

How do I change the color of the background?

The SVG::Sparkline constructor supports an optional bgcolor parameter that specifies the color of the background. The value of this parameter must be in a format that SVG understands.

   my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Line => { values=>\@depth, bgcolor=>'silver' } );

This would make a line graph on a light gray background. See the recipe "How do I specify a color for the data, background, or marks?" for legal color formats.

By default, the background should be transparent.

How do I specify a color for the data, background, or marks?

Colors are specified using the color definitions defined for SVG. These formats include

6 digit rgb hex

This is the normal HTML colors you may already be used to. #88ff88 would be a light green.

3 digit rgb hex

This is a short form of the normal hex string #f00 would be red. To convert the 3 digit form into the 6 digit form, just double each digit (#f00 becomes #ff0000 and #123 becomes #112233).

rgb() functional notation

This form takes three number between 0 and 255. So, rgb(255,0,127) is equivalent to #ff007f.

rgb() percentage functional notation

This is like the previous form, but uses percentages instead. (e.g. rgb(100%,50%,75%)).

color names

The SVG specification has an extended list of color names that can be used to name colors. This includes the normal colors of red, green, blue, white, black, yellow, magenta, cyan, gray, silver, etc.

I need to mark a specific data point on the sparkline.

It is often useful to be able to mark specific data points on a sparkline so that you can refer to them elsewhere. You mark a specific data point with the mark parameter. For example,

  my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new(
        Line=>{ values=>\@rainfall, mark=>[14=>'blue'] }
  );

This would show our rainfall line graph with a blue dot on the data for the 15th (14 0-based).

The mark attribute takes pairs of values. The first item of each pair is an index (or one of four special terms: first, last, high, and low). The second item is a SVG-supported color as described in "How do I specify a color for the data, background, or marks?".

If you need more than one mark, simply add more pairs to the anonymous array.

I need to mark the high and low values on a sparkline.

So, you can mark a particular index, but what if you don't want to figure out the index for the high and low values (especially, if you are generating this sparkline multiple times). The special index terms high and low come to the rescue.

  my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new(
        `Line=>{ values=>\@rainfall, mark=>[high=>'green', low=>'red'] }
  );

This will generate two dots on the sparkline: a green one at the high value and a red one at the low value.

I want a little more space above/below the data in the sparkline.

The pady parameter specifies the amount of padding between the displayed data and the top/bottom of the sparkline in pixels. The default value of pady is 1 pixel if none is specified.

  my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new(
        Line=>{ values=>\@rainfall, pady=>3 }
  );

This adds 2 more pixels of spacing between the highest and lowest values of the data and the top and bottom of the sparkline graphic. To add paddin to the left and right, see the next recipe.

I want a little more space to the left/right of the data in the sparkline.

The padx parameter specifies the amount of padding between the displayed data and the left and right of the sparkline in pixels. The default value of padx is 0 pixels if none is specified.

  my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new(
        Line=>{ values=>\@rainfall, padx=>2 }
  );

This adds 2 more pixels of spacing between the data and the left and right of the sparkline graphic. To add padding to the top and bottom, see the previous recipe.

Area Sparklines

My Area sparkline is too spiky, how can I spread it out?

There are two ways to change the spacing between data points on an Area sparkline: setting the width and setting the x-scaling.

If you have a fixed width in mind (say 100 pixels), you can set the width of the area graph as follows:

   my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new(
        Area => { values=>\@temps, width=>100 }
   );

On the other hand, if you don't have a fixed width in mind, but you still want the data points farther apart, the xscale parameter specifies the number of pixels between individual data points. The default scale is 2 pixels. If you wanted to double the spacing, you would do this:

   my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new(
        Area => { values=>\@temps, xscale=>4 }
   );

Bar Sparklines

I want the bars to be wider/narrower on my Bar sparkline.

There are two ways to change the width of the bars on a Bar sparkline. The SVG::Sparkline constructor supports an optional thick parameter that specifies the bar thickness (in pixels) on a Bar sparkline. For example,

  my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Bar=>{ values=>\@rainfall, thick=>6 } );

generates bars that are 6 pixels wide, instead of the default 3.

Specifying a width different than the default also changes the bar size. The bar size defaults to the width divided by the number of data points.

  my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Bar=>{ values=>\@rainfall, width=>120 } );

If we assume 12 months of data in @rainfall, the bars are drawn 10 pixels wide.

I want spacing between my bars on my Bar sparkline.

The default Bar sparkline has no spacing between the bars for the maximum use of space. (After all, sparklines are supposed to be small.) You can change the spacing through the use of the gap parameter. For example, if you want two pixels of spacing between the bars, you would do the following:

  my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Bar=>{ values=>\@rainfall, gap=>2 } );

Line Sparklines

I want to change the thickness of the line.

The thickness of the line on the Line sparkline is controlled by the optional thick parameter to the constructor. This parameter specifies the stroke width of the line in pixels.

  my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Line=>{ values=>\@highs, thick=>2 } );

generates a line 2 pixels wide instead of the default 1 pixel line.

My Line sparkline is too spiky, how can I spread it out?

See "My Area sparkline is too spiky, how can I spread it out?". The same approach works with a Line sparkline.

RangeArea Sparklines

I want to spread out the sparkline so it's not spiky.

See "My Area sparkline is too spiky, how can I spread it out?". The same approach works with a RangeArea sparkline.

RangeBar Sparklines

I want the bars to be wider/narrower on my RangeBar sparkline.

See "I want the bars to be wider/narrower on my Bar sparkline." The same technique works for RangeBar.

I want spacing between my bars on my RangeBar sparkline.

See "I want spacing between my bars on my Bar sparkline." The same technique works for RangeBar.

Whisker Sparklines

I want the Whiskers to be thicker/thinner.

There are two ways to change the thickness of the whiskers on a Whisker sparkline. The SVG::Sparkline constructor supports an optional thick parameter that specifies the whisker thickness (in pixels) on a Whisker sparkline. For example,

  my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Whisker=>{ values=>\@tosses, thick=>2 } );

generates whiskers that are 2 pixels wide, instead of the default 1.

Specifying a width different than the default also changes the whisker size. The whisker size defaults to 1/3 the width divided by the number of data points.

  my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Whisker=>{ values=>\@tosses, width=>120 } );

If there are 10 values in @tosses, the whiskers are drawn 4 pixels wide.

I want to change the spacing between the whiskers on my sparkline.

The distance between the whiskers can be changed either by modifying the width of the sparkline or through the use of the gap parameter.

By default, the gap is twice the thickness of the whiskers. To change that, specify a value in pixels as shown below:

   my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Whisker=>{ values=\@tosses, gap=>5 } );

Using the generated sparklines

I want to write the sparkline to a file.

Use the print global function to write to a file. The SVG::Sparkline is converted to a string using the SVG::Sparkline::to_string method, automatically. For example,

    my $sl = SVG::Sparkline->new( Bar=>{ values=>\@rainfall } );
    open( my $fh, '>', 'rainfall_sparkline.svg' )
        or die "Unable to create rainfall_sparkline.svg.\n";
    print $fh $sl;
    close( $fh );

This will result in an SVG file on disk containing the sparkline.

You can also covert a sparkline to a string my calling the SVG::Sparkline::to_string method directly.

I want to embed the sparkline in an HTML file.

Eventually, most browsers will support mixed-namespace documents, and you will be able to write the SVG directly into your XHTML document. Until then, the most robust solution is to write out the file and reference it from your document.

There are several approaches, including the iframe tag, the img tag, the object tag, and the embed tag. At present, the iframe seems to be the simplest and most robust solution.

Given a sparkline in the file rainfall_sparkline.svg, put the following in your HTML to include the sparkline:

   <iframe height="12" width="36" src="rainfall_sparkline.svg"
       style="border:0;" alt="Rainfall amounts"></iframe>

Of course, you may need to adjust the height and width to match your sparkline.

I want to embed the sparkline in an XHTML(+xml) file.

You should be able to copy the SVG from the sparkline directly into the XHTML file where you would like it to appear. Browsers that support <em>complex documents</em> should display the SVG along with everything else.

I want to embed the sparkline in an SVG file.

You can copy the SVG directly from the sparkline into the SVG file. However, you will need to make a minor change to the result. You either need to modify the sparkline to position it in the SVG. There are basically 3 ways to accomplish this:

Modify the sparkline svg tag to have x and y attributes.

The x and y attributes are used to position a nested svg tag within the area of the outer svg tag. By default, the sparkline's svg tag would be positioned at (0,0).

Modify the sparkline svg tag to have a transform attribute.

The transform attribute can position a tag using the translate(x,y) function. This would have the same effect as positioning the sparkline with the x and y attributes. The only real reason for positioning this way is if you wanted to provide scaling or rotation as well.

Surround the sparkline in a g tag and position the group.

This approach has the advantage that you don't actually have to change the sparkline. Put the content of the sparkline inside a g tag and use the transform attribute to place it.

   <g transform="translate(100,250)"><svg/></g>

where the <svg/> is replaced with your actual sparkline.

Decorations

How do I add a box around the sparkline?

As Tuft explains in Beautiful Evidence this kind of decoration overwhelms the actual data being displayed. That defeats the purpose of the sparkline. For this reason, SVG::Sparkline does not provide an automatic way to put a border around the sparkline.

If you want to have a border despite Tuft's advice, you can use the border attribute on the container you use for the SVG. For example, if you used the iframe approach from "I want to embed the sparkline in an HTML file."

   <iframe height="12" width="36" src="rainfall_sparkline.svg"
       style="border:1 solid black;" alt="Rainfall amounts"></iframe>

Changing the border style should have the effect you want.

How do I add a grid under the sparkline?

The SVG::Sparkline does not currently support grids. I am concerned that adding a grid might also violate Tufte's intent for the sparkline.

At present, the best solution would be to generate a grid of the appropriate dimensions and overlay it with the sparkline. This only works if the sparkline has no background color, which leaves the background transparent.

AUTHOR ^

G. Wade Johnson <gwadej@cpan.org>

LICENCE AND COPYRIGHT ^

Copyright (c) 2013, G. Wade Johnson <gwadej@cpan.org>. All rights reserved.

This module is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl 5.8.0. See perlartistic.

DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY ^

BECAUSE THIS SOFTWARE IS LICENSED FREE OF CHARGE, THERE IS NO WARRANTY FOR THE SOFTWARE, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW. EXCEPT WHEN OTHERWISE STATED IN WRITING THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND/OR OTHER PARTIES PROVIDE THE SOFTWARE "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE SOFTWARE IS WITH YOU. SHOULD THE SOFTWARE PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU ASSUME THE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING, REPAIR, OR CORRECTION.

IN NO EVENT UNLESS REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE LAW OR AGREED TO IN WRITING WILL ANY COPYRIGHT HOLDER, OR ANY OTHER PARTY WHO MAY MODIFY AND/OR REDISTRIBUTE THE SOFTWARE AS PERMITTED BY THE ABOVE LICENCE, BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR DAMAGES, INCLUDING ANY GENERAL, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THE USE OR INABILITY TO USE THE SOFTWARE (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO LOSS OF DATA OR DATA BEING RENDERED INACCURATE OR LOSSES SUSTAINED BY YOU OR THIRD PARTIES OR A FAILURE OF THE SOFTWARE TO OPERATE WITH ANY OTHER SOFTWARE), EVEN IF SUCH HOLDER OR OTHER PARTY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

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