Google announced that they now support charting in their online spreadsheet app, so I figured I’d give it a try. I’ve used Excel charts for years now so I am pretty familiar with how all this should work. Though I find Excel charts can be sometimes a maze to get working, I’ve yet to be symied from being able to make the chart I need – it seems to be infinitely tweakable.
I’ve got several little spreadsheets I keep up on Google Docs & Spreadsheets. One is an illustration on how Bode’s Law works. I used the data from that to produce the following simple chart:
The charting feature here is pretty primitive in comparison to Excel, however it’s certainly sufficient to make simple charts like the one above. The learning curve for creating these charts is much less than what it takes to learn Excels. There are 5 basic types of charts that can be made: columns, bars, lines, pie, and scatter. For each time there are from 2 (pie) to 5 (line) variations. The one in the above Bode’s Law chart is a line chart, with just the dotted datapoints.
You can easily label the Y (Astronomical Units) and X (Planets) axis, and the overall chart title (Bode’s Law). I couldn’t find a way to change their fonts at all – that seems to be fixed, as does their positions and orientations.
The legend (Actual and Bode’s number) comes from the data in the spreadsheet itself and can be placed either top, bottom, left, right, or not at all. In the above case, it’s top. Again, there doesn’t seem to be any way to tweak their fonts, orientation, precise positions or even color.
The actual values for the X and Y axis again come straight from the spreadsheet itself. I really wanted to be able to tweak the orientation of the X values so that the planet names could be more readable, but this was not possible – or rather, I couldn’t figure it out.
It does let you save it’s charts as an image – which is pretty nice. That’s how I got it here so easily.
Overall, I’d say that for simple charting, this feature is going to serve you well. If you have any sort of sophisticated charting or if you really need to tweak the placement or fonts of things, then you should either wait (I’m pretty sure they’ll improve things here) or just continue to use Excel for now.
If you want to see this simple spreadsheet and chart, here’s a link…definitely NOT something you can do easily with Excel.