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Bar Chart

Easily compare things across groups or track changes over time

Peter Novosel avatar
Written by Peter Novosel
Updated over a week ago

The Bar Chart type is useful for comparing things between different groups or to track changes over time. Bars are displayed horizontally, with the Y-axis labeled with the categories to be compared and the X-axis having numerical values representing each category's value.

When should I use a Bar Chart?

Bar charts are the perfect choice when comparing the values of different categories of data, allowing you to intuitively and visually compare their differing quantities. Bars are best-suited to situations where variations tend to be fairly large.

See the section Bar Chart Examples below to see bar chart in action. They highlight situations where Bar chart is the right choice to showcase your data.

Avoid using bar charts when you're examining values that add up to a fixed number, as Pie charts really shine for that type of work. Also, if you're comparing slight variations in category values, you might consider using a Line chart - they tend to be better at demonstrating subtle nuance in your data.

Configuring Bar Chart Saved Views

Configuring a Bar chart is easy with the SmartSuite Chart Setting panel. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Add a new Chart Saved View (see this article to learn how)

  2. Select Chart Type (Bar Chart, Stacked Bar, or 100% Stacked Bar)

  3. Specify the chart's Values

  4. Pick a Group By field (optional)

Bar Chart Types

Most chart types stand alone - there is only one version of a "Bubble" chart for example - but Bar chart is different. There are three display options available for selection:

Bar Chart. This is the standard bar chart, which represents each series (each specified Value) as its own separate bar.

Stacked Bar. This version combines your values on the same bar, color coding each series and "stacking" them (hence the name!) on top of one another.

100% Stacked Bar. The 100% stacked bar again stacks your values, but represents them as the relative percentage of multiple data series - and the total (cumulative) of each stacked bar is equal to 100%. This option is particularly good at comparing the relative percentage of two values over time.

Specifying Bar Chart Values

The Values configuration section allows you to pick which field or fields contain the data you want to display on your chart. You can specify fields that either contains a numeric value (Number, Currency, etc.) or you can pick a text or list-type field (Single Select, Multiple Select, Linked Record, and similar) and count the individual values to arrive at a number.

Specifying a "Count" value type will result in the chart drawing one value bar for each counted element. For example, in the following chart, we're counting by "Type" which is a Single Select field with three options:

When you specify a numeric field, you also select how you want those numbers aggregated. Options include:

  • Sum - returns the sum (add values added together) for the selected field

  • Avg - returns the average of values in the specified field

  • Min - returns the smallest value appearing in the selected field

  • Max - returns the largest value appearing in the selected field

You can click Add New to include additional Values in your chart, allowing you to compare them side by side like this:

If you have a preferable priority of displaying the bars in your chart, you can reorder them via drag-and-drop in the legend:

Group By

Configuring a Group By field gives you the option to cluster values into categories. This is a great way to compare values across time or see differences across types of elements. In the chart below, we'll apply a "By Year" grouping to a date field to the last chart we configured above:

Note: For Bar and Column Charts, if you do not select a field to group by you will have the option to Sort by Values. This will add an option to be able to sort the values from First to Last or Last to First, and you'll see the chart values reorder as these selections are made.

Configuring Bar Chart Widgets

Bar charts are great on their own but even better on a SmartSuite Dashboard!

All of the configuration is the same as we've described above with a handful of minor differences:

  • Widget Name: Name the Bar Chart - this text will be displayed in the widget's border to let people know what data they're looking at.

  • Table: Saved Views are configured in the context of a specific Table, but widgets live at the Solution level. Start your configuration by picking which Table contains the data you want on your chart.

Once you have configured your chart parameters to your liking, click Add Widget to place it on your Dashboard. That's all there is to it!

Bar Chart Use Cases

Here are a few charting use cases to get you thinking about Bar chart and when it can be the best chart type choice.

Use Case: Many Values to Compare

When you have more than about half a dozen values to compare, it's often difficult to clearly display their labels in the X-axis of a Column chart, making Bar a better choice.

Use Case: Data Comparison

When you want to compare elements in a category, a bar chart can be a great solution. Here you can see that it's easy to compare the clustered values displayed in each time grouping (in this case fiscal quarters).

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