Dataviz within Illustrator: the results (part 2 of 3)

How we can help you on the top respondent pain-points

As you may already know, we recently posted a survey to hear more from those who use (or have used) Illustrator to create data visuals.

The responses were great and super insightful, we certainly learnt a lot about the types of roles, industries and chart types at the center of the demand for dataviz.

Important insights were also gathered on the challenges faced by those using Illustrator to produce data visualizations and data stories. Based on this type of feedback, we saw it as useful to spend some time over the next two posts outlining these (letting you know you are not alone in your frustrations!) and explaining how we can help to solve challenges with our Datylon Graph plug in for Illustrator.

Here is the first of the three main themes from within the survey results:

Challenge #1: Losing the link with the data. Users cannot update or reuse charts.

This is without a doubt the single most reported issue when creating dataviz within Illustrator, where designers have been confronted with this quite major hurdle while attempting to repurpose their charts.

To style the chart elements requires the properties to be ungrouped. But to reuse or update the chart, where you need the link with the data - it has to be grouped. And until now there has been no alternative.

As a result, Illustrator has been limited in its use for one-off charts and graphs. Once a chart or graph needs to be repurposed, produced in multiples or different versions each item would need to be time consumingly redrawn.

How can we help:

Reusable charts

A reusable chart is a chart which can be updated, resized or duplicated with new data without having to manually restyle it. Each Datylon Graph object consists of two components:

  1. the chart itself, which is the graphical representation you see on the screen, and also,
  2. the data behind it - which can be managed in the data sheet manager.

Reusability of charts in Datylon Graph is facilitated because of three principles:

  • Responsive chart elements

  • Properties driven by data

  • Datasheet management options

All chart style elements in a Datylon Graph object are responsive in some way, depending on the object type. The position of grids, ticks and legends, the length of an axis or text box, and padding between objects for example all adapt automatically to the new data.

New categories, columns or rows in the data can be added or removed, and still all the style elements will follow nicely.

Other styling properties like text size, line width keep their value as it should be.

No more ungrouping

In Datylon Graph, designers have access to specialized dataviz styling options and chart types so ungrouping can be avoided. Because the link with the data remains, the chart can be updated with new data at any time.

Data-driven properties

Some chart properties can be driven by data, rather than individually defined. For example, scatter charts can be bound to the data by the size of the plots, making them into bubbles. But it doesn't stop there, the color of the bubbles, the color of the stroke, labels and tooltips can all also be data-driven.

Once the properties are defined, they can be updated by a simple upload of new data, meaning charts with a new look and feel can be easily created in seconds.

Data management

But what good is it if you’re able to drive properties by data and you have no means to properly manage the data itself?

Datylon Graph provides a solution with the Data Sheet Manager where you can add, delete and rename data sheets. Users can upload data from different sources and, soon, even a link to live data. The datasheets can then be assigned to specific charts and graphs within the data story or report being created.

After that, it is as simple as uploading new data when it arrives. You can even have one datasheet driving more than one chart. Not only does this simplify things considerably, but it also allows the user to combine two or more charts on top of each other while those charts will stay perfectly in sync.

to be continued...

Tune in again next week where we'll continue outlining how the Datylon Graph plug in for Illustrator can help with more dataviz functionality limitations you experience with using their standard tool.