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How To Draw Radar Charts In Internet — Smashing Journal

I set to work with a brand new kind of chart for information visualization referred to as a radar chart when a mission requested for it. It was new to me, however the concept is that there’s a round, two-dimensional circle with plots going across the chart. Relatively than easy X and Y axes, every plot on a radar chart is its personal axis, marking a spot between the outer fringe of the circle and the very heart of it. The plots characterize some type of class, and when connecting them collectively, they’re like vertices that type shapes to assist see the connection of class values, not completely not like the vectors in an SVG.

Supercapacitor comparison chart.
Supercapacitor comparability chart. (Picture supply: NASA) (Giant preview)

Generally, the radar chart is known as a spider chart, and it’s simple to see why. The axes that circulation outward intersect with the linked plots and type a web-like look. So, in case your Spidey senses had been tingling at first look, you recognize why.

You already know the place we’re going with this: We’re going to construct a radar chart collectively! We’ll work from scratch with nothing however HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. However earlier than we go there, it’s price noting a few issues about radar charts.

First, you don’t have to construct them from scratch. Chart.js and D3.js are available with handy approaches that vastly simplify the method. Seeing as I wanted only one chart for the mission, I made a decision towards utilizing a library and took on the problem of creating it myself. I realized one thing new, and hopefully, you do as effectively!

Second, there are caveats to utilizing radar charts for information visualization. Whereas they’re certainly efficient, they may also be tough to learn when a number of sequence stack up. The relationships between plots should not practically as decipherable as, say, bar charts. The order of the classes across the circle impacts the general form, and the size between sequence must be constant for drawing conclusions.

That each one mentioned, let’s dive in and get our fingers sticky with information plots.

The Parts

The factor I like instantly about radar charts is that they’re inherently geometrical. Connecting plots produces a sequence of angles that type polygon shapes. The edges are straight traces. And CSS is completely great for working with polygons provided that we’ve the CSS polygon() operate for drawing them by declaring as many factors as we’d like within the operate’s arguments.

We’ll begin with a pentagonal-shaped chart with 5 information classes.

See the Pen [Radar chart (Pentagon) [forked]]( by Preethi Sam.

See the Pen Radar chart (Pentagon) [forked] by Preethi Sam.

There are three elements we have to set up in HTML earlier than we work on styling. These could be:

  1. Grids: These present the axes over which the diagrams are drawn. It’s the spider net of the bunch.
  2. Graphs: These are the polygons we draw with the coordinates of every information plot earlier than coloring them in.
  3. Labels: The textual content that identifies the classes alongside the graphs’ axes.

Right here’s how I made a decision to stub that out in HTML:

<!-- GRIDS -->
<div class="wrapper">
  <div class="grids polygons">
  <div class="grids polygons">
  <div class="grids polygons">

<!-- GRAPHS -->
<div class="wrapper">
  <div class="graphs polygons">
    <div><!-- Set 1 --></div>
  <div class="graphs polygons">
    <div><!-- Set 2 --></div>
  <div class="graphs polygons">
    <div><!-- Set 3 --></div>
  <!-- and so forth. -->

<!-- LABELS -->
<div class="wrapper">
  <div class="labels">Knowledge A</div>
  <div class="labels">Knowledge B</div>
  <div class="labels">Knowledge C</div>
  <div class="labels">Knowledge D</div>
  <div class="labels">Knowledge E</div>
  <!-- and so forth. -->

I’m positive you may learn the markup and see what’s occurring, however we’ve acquired three mother or father parts (.wrapper) that every holds one of many primary elements. The primary mother or father comprises the .grids, the second mother or father comprises the .graphs, and the third mother or father comprises the .labels.

Base Kinds

We’ll begin by establishing a couple of colour variables we are able to use to fill issues in as we go:

:root {
  --color1: rgba(78, 36, 221, 0.6); /* graph set 1 */
  --color2: rgba(236, 19, 154, 0.6); /* graph set 2 */
  --color3: rgba(156, 4, 223, 0.6); /* graph set 3 */
  --colorS: rgba(255, 0, 95, 0.1); /* graph shadow */

Our subsequent order of enterprise is to ascertain the structure. CSS Grid is a strong method for this as a result of we are able to place all three grid gadgets collectively on the grid in simply a few traces:

/* Guardian container */
.wrapper { show: grid; }

/* Putting parts on the grid */
.wrapper > div {
  grid-area: 1 / 1; /* There's just one grid space to cowl */

Let’s go forward and set a dimension on the grid gadgets. I’m utilizing a hard and fast size worth of 300px, however you should use any worth you want and variablize it if you happen to plan on utilizing it elsewhere. And slightly than declaring an express peak, let’s put the burden of calculating a peak on CSS utilizing aspect-ratio to type excellent squares.

/* Putting parts on the grid */
.wrapper div {
  aspect-ratio: 1 / 1;
  grid-area: 1 / 1;
  width: 300px;

We are able to’t see something simply but. We’ll want to paint issues in:

/* ----------
---------- */
.graphs:nth-of-type(1) > div { background: var(--color1); }
.graphs:nth-of-type(2) > div { background: var(--color2); }
.graphs:nth-of-type(3) > div { background: var(--color3); }

.graphs {
    drop-shadow(1px 1px 10px var(--colorS))
    drop-shadow(-1px -1px 10px var(--colorS))
    drop-shadow(-1px 1px 10px var(--colorS))
    drop-shadow(1px -1px 10px var(--colorS));

/* --------------
-------------- */
.grids {
    drop-shadow(1px 1px 1px #ddd)
    drop-shadow(-1px -1px 1px #ddd)
    drop-shadow(-1px 1px 1px #ddd)
    drop-shadow(1px -1px 1px #ddd);
    mix-blend-mode: multiply;

.grids > div { background: white; }

Oh, wait! We have to set widths on the grids and polygons for them to take form:

.grids:nth-of-type(2) { width: 66%; }
.grids:nth-of-type(3) { width: 33%; }

/* --------------
-------------- */
.polygons { place-self: heart; }
.polygons > div { width: 100%; }

Since we’re already right here, I’m going to place the labels a smidge and provides them width:

/* --------------
-------------- */
.labels:first-of-type { inset-block-sptart: -10%; }

.labels {
  peak: 1lh;
  place: relative;
  width: max-content;

We nonetheless can’t see what’s occurring, however we are able to if we quickly draw borders round parts.

See the Pen [Radar chart layout [forked]]( by Preethi Sam.

See the Pen Radar chart structure [forked] by Preethi Sam.

All mixed, it doesn’t look all that nice up to now. Mainly, we’ve a sequence of overlapping grids adopted by completely sq. graphs stacked proper on high of each other. The labels are off within the nook as effectively. We haven’t drawn something but, so this doesn’t hassle me for now as a result of we’ve the HTML parts we’d like, and CSS is technically establishing a structure that ought to come collectively as we begin plotting factors and drawing polygons.

Extra particularly:

  • The .wrapper parts are displayed as CSS Grid containers.
  • The direct kids of the .wrapper parts are divs positioned in the very same grid-area. That is inflicting them to stack one proper on high of the opposite.
  • The .polygons are centered (place-self: heart).
  • The kid divs within the .polygons take up the complete width (width:100%).
  • Each single div is 300px huge and squared off with a one-to-one aspect-ratio.
  • We’re explicitly declaring a relative place on the .labels. This fashion, they are often mechanically positioned once we begin working in JavaScript.

The remainder? Merely apply some colours as backgrounds and drop shadows.

Calculating Plot Coordinates

Don’t fear. We aren’t getting right into a deep dive about polygon geometry. As a substitute, let’s take a fast have a look at the equations we’re utilizing to calculate the coordinates of every polygon’s vertices. You don’t need to know these equations to make use of the code we’re going to write down, nevertheless it by no means hurts to peek underneath the hood to see the way it comes collectively.

x1 = x + cosθ1 = cosθ1 if x=0
y1 = y + sinθ1 = sinθ1 if y=0
x2 = x + cosθ2 = cosθ2 if x=0
y2 = y + sinθ2 = sinθ2 if y=0
and so forth.

x, y = heart of the polygon (assigned (0, 0) in our examples)

x1, x2… = x coordinates of every vertex (vertex 1, 2, and so forth)
y1, y2… = y coordinates of every vertex
θ1, θ2… = angle every vertex makes to the x-axis

We are able to assume that 𝜃 is 90deg (i.e., 𝜋/2) since a vertex can at all times be positioned proper above or under the middle (i.e., Knowledge A on this instance). The remainder of the angles may be calculated like this:

n = variety of sides of the polygon

𝜃1 = 𝜃0 + 2𝜋/𝑛 = 𝜋/2 + 2𝜋/𝑛
𝜃2 = 𝜃0 + 4𝜋/𝑛 = 𝜋/2 + 4𝜋/𝑛
𝜃3 = 𝜃0 + 6𝜋/𝑛 = 𝜋/2 + 6𝜋/𝑛
𝜃3 = 𝜃0 + 8𝜋/𝑛 = 𝜋/2 + 8𝜋/𝑛
𝜃3 = 𝜃0 + 10𝜋/𝑛 = 𝜋/2 + 10𝜋/𝑛

Armed with this context, we are able to clear up for our x and y values:

x1 = cos(𝜋/2 + 2𝜋/# sides)
y1 = sin(𝜋/2 + 2𝜋/# sides)
x2 = cos(𝜋/2 + 4𝜋/# sides)
y2 = sin(𝜋/2 + 4𝜋/# sides)
and so forth.

The variety of sides is determined by the variety of plots we’d like. We mentioned up-front that this can be a pentagonal form, so we’re working with 5 sides on this specific instance.

x1 = cos(𝜋/2 + 2𝜋/5)
y1 = sin(𝜋/2 + 2𝜋/5)
x2 = cos(𝜋/2 + 4𝜋/5)
y2 = sin(𝜋/2 + 4𝜋/5)
and so forth.

Drawing Polygons With JavaScript

Now that the maths is accounted for, we’ve what we have to begin working in JavaScript for the sake of plotting the coordinates, connecting them collectively, and portray within the ensuing polygons.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll go away the Canvas API out of this and as a substitute use common HTML parts to attract the chart. You’ll be able to, nonetheless, use the maths outlined above and the next logic as the muse for drawing polygons in whichever language, framework, or API you favor.

OK, so we’ve three kinds of elements to work on: grids, graphs, and labels. We begin with the grid and work up from there. In every case, I’ll merely drop within the code and clarify what’s occurring.

Drawing The Grid

// Variables
let sides = 5; // # of information factors
let models = 1; // # of graphs + 1
let vertices = (new Array(models)).fill(""); 
let percents = new Array(models);
percents[0] = (new Array(sides)).fill(100); // for the polygon's grid element
let gradient = "conic-gradient(";
let angle = 360/sides;

// Calculate vertices
with(Math) { 
  for(i=0, n = 2 * PI; i < sides; i++, n += 2 * PI) {
    for(j=0; j < models; j++) {
      let x = ( spherical(cos(-1 * PI/2 + n/sides) * percents[j][i]) + 100 ) / 2; 
      let y = ( spherical(sin(-1 * PI/2 + n/sides) * percents[j][i]) + 100 ) / 2; 
      vertices[j] += `${x}% ${y} ${i == sides - 1 ? '%':'%, '}`;
  gradient += `white ${
    (angle * (i+1)) - 1}deg,
    #ddd ${ (angle * (i+1)) - 1 }deg,
    #ddd ${ (angle * (i+1)) + 1 }deg,
    white ${ (angle * (i+1)) + 1 }deg,

// Draw the grids
doc.querySelectorAll('.grids>div').forEach((grid,i) => {
  grid.type.clipPath =`polygon(${ vertices[0] })`;
doc.querySelector('.grids:nth-of-type(1) > div').type.background =`${gradient.slice(0, -1)} )`;

Test it out! We have already got a spider net.

See the Pen [Radar chart (Grid) [forked]]( by Preethi Sam.

See the Pen Radar chart (Grid) [forked] by Preethi Sam.

Right here’s what’s occurring within the code:

  1. sides is the variety of sides of the chart. Once more, we’re working with 5 sides.
  2. vertices is an array that shops the coordinates of every vertex.
  3. Since we aren’t establishing any graphs but — solely the grid — the variety of models is about to 1, and just one merchandise is added to the percents array at percents[0]. For grid polygons, the info values are 100.
  4. gradient is a string to assemble the conic-gradient() that establishes the grid traces.
  5. angle is a calculation of 360deg divided by the full variety of sides.

From there, we calculate the vertices:

  1. i is an iterator that cycles by the full variety of sides (i.e., 5).
  2. j is an iterator that cycles by the full variety of models (i.e., 1).
  3. n is a counter that counts in increments of 2*PI (i.e., 2𝜋, 4𝜋, 6𝜋, and so forth).

The x and y values of every vertex are calculated as follows, primarily based on the geometric equations we mentioned earlier. Observe that we multiply 𝜋 by -1 to steer the rotation.

cos(-1 * PI/2 + n/sides) // cos(𝜋/2 + 2𝜋/sides), cos(𝜋/2 + 4𝜋/sides)...
sin(-1 * PI/2 + n/sides) // sin(𝜋/2 + 2𝜋/sides), sin(𝜋/2 + 4𝜋/sides)...

We convert the x and y values into percentages (since that’s how the info factors are formatted) after which place them on the chart.

let x = (spherical(cos(-1 * PI/2 + n/sides) * percents[j][i]) + 100) / 2;
let y = (spherical(sin(-1 * PI/2 + n/sides) * percents[j][i]) + 100) / 2;

We additionally assemble the conic-gradient(), which is a part of the grid. Every colour cease corresponds to every vertex’s angle — at every of the angle increments, a gray (#ddd) line is drawn.

gradient += 
  `white ${ (angle * (i+1)) - 1 }deg,
   #ddd ${ (angle * (i+1)) - 1 }deg,
   #ddd ${ (angle * (i+1)) + 1 }deg,
   white ${ (angle * (i+1)) + 1 }deg,`

If we print out the computed variables after the for loop, these would be the outcomes for the grid’s vertices and gradient:

console.log(`polygon( ${vertices[0]} )`); /* grid’s polygon */
// polygon(97.5% 34.5%, 79.5% 90.5%, 20.5% 90.5%, 2.5% 34.5%, 50% 0%)

console.log(gradient.slice(0, -1)); /* grid’s gradient */
// conic-gradient(white 71deg, #ddd 71deg,# ddd 73deg, white 73deg, white 143deg, #ddd 143deg, #ddd 145deg, white 145deg, white 215deg, #ddd 215deg, #ddd 217deg, white 217deg, white 287deg, #ddd 287deg, #ddd 289deg, white 289deg, white 359deg, #ddd 359deg, #ddd 361deg, white 361deg

These values are assigned to the grid’s clipPath and background, respectively, and thus the grid seems on the web page.

The Graph

// Following the opposite variable declarations 
// Every graph's information factors within the order [B, C, D... A] 
percents[1] = [100, 50, 60, 50, 90]; 
percents[2] = [100, 80, 30, 90, 40];
percents[3] = [100, 10, 60, 60, 80];

// Subsequent to drawing grids
doc.querySelectorAll('.graphs > div').forEach((graph,i) => {
  graph.type.clipPath =`polygon( ${vertices[i+1]} )`;

See the Pen [Radar chart (Graph) [forked]]( by Preethi Sam.

See the Pen Radar chart (Graph) [forked] by Preethi Sam.

Now it appears to be like like we’re getting someplace! For every graph, we add its set of information factors to the percents array after incrementing the worth of models to match the variety of graphs. And that’s all we have to draw graphs on the chart. Let’s flip our consideration to the labels for the second.

The Labels

// Positioning labels

// First label is at all times set within the high center
let firstLabel = doc.querySelector('.labels:first-of-type');
firstLabel.type.insetInlineStart =`calc(50% - ${firstLabel.offsetWidth / 2}px)`;

// Setting labels for the remainder of the vertices (information factors). 
let v = Array.from(vertices[0].cut up(' ').splice(0, (2 * sides) - 2), (n)=> parseInt(n)); 

doc.querySelectorAll('.labels:not(:first-of-type)').forEach((label, i) => {
  let width = label.offsetWidth / 2; 
  let peak = label.offsetHeight;
  label.type.insetInlineStart = `calc( ${ v[i*2] }% + ${ v[i*2] < 50 ? - 3*width : v[i*2] == 50 ? - width: width}px )`;
  label.type.insetBlockStart = `calc( ${ v[(i*2) + 1] }% - ${ v[(i * 2) + 1] == 100 ? - peak: peak / 2 }px )`;

The positioning of the labels is decided by three issues:

  1. The coordinates of the vertices (i.e., information factors) they need to be subsequent to,
  2. The width and peak of their textual content, and
  3. Any clean area wanted across the labels so that they don’t overlap the chart.

All of the labels are positioned relative in CSS. By including the inset-inline-start and inset-block-start values within the script, we are able to reposition the labels utilizing the values as coordinates. The primary label is at all times set to the top-middle place. The coordinates for the remainder of the labels are the identical as their respective vertices, plus an offset. The offset is decided like this:

  1. x-axis/horizontal
    If the label is on the left (i.e., x is lower than 50%), then it’s moved in direction of the left primarily based on its width. In any other case, it’s moved in direction of the suitable aspect. As such, the suitable or left edges of the labels, relying on which aspect of the chart they’re on, are uniformly aligned to their vertices.
  2. y-axis/vertical
    The peak of every label is mounted. There’s not a lot offset so as to add besides perhaps shifting them down half their peak. Any label on the backside (i.e., when y is 100%), nonetheless, might use extra area above it for respiratory room.

And guess what…

We’re Carried out!

See the Pen [Radar chart (Pentagon) [forked]]( by Preethi Sam.

See the Pen Radar chart (Pentagon) [forked] by Preethi Sam.

Not too shabby, proper? Probably the most difficult half, I feel, is the maths. However since we’ve that discovered, we are able to virtually plug it into another state of affairs the place a radar chart is required. Want a four-point chart as a substitute? Replace the variety of vertices within the script and account for fewer parts within the markup and kinds.

The truth is, listed below are two extra examples displaying totally different configurations. In every case, I’m merely growing or reducing the variety of vertices, which the script makes use of to supply totally different units of coordinates that assist place factors alongside the grid.

Want simply three sides? All meaning is 2 fewer coordinate units:

See the Pen [Radar chart (Triangle) [forked]]( by Preethi Sam.

See the Pen Radar chart (Triangle) [forked] by Preethi Sam.

Want seven sides? We’ll produce extra coordinate units as a substitute:

See the Pen [Radar chart (Heptagon) [forked]]( by Preethi Sam.

See the Pen Radar chart (Heptagon) [forked] by Preethi Sam.
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