In the UK and US—at the current time—Illustrator users have access to an exciting new technology preview: CC Charts. Technology previews are features and services that are released to the public that allows users to use the features and feed back to help guide development; this is a much faster way to work perhaps than with a smaller group of beta testers for an extended period, and will lead to a feature (or service) that is immediately more relevant to users.
In an earlier post, we looked at creating graphics for graphs—which are of course an essential part of infographics—but we sometimes want to do much more interesting things to represent the numbers and it would be necessary to expand the graph object to do that; CC Charts gives us more control and flexibility to create without breaking the link to the data.
Creating a New Chart
Select the CC Charts Tool—you’ll find it in the graphing tools family—then click and drag on the artboard to create a chart of the desired size. Note: at the time of writing, the only kind of chart you can create is a scale value chart but more chart types should appear throughout the year.
Beneath the chart you’ll see the Charts Widget—there are a few functions in the widget:
- The Hot-dog button above the widget is a visibility toggle for the widget
- The information icon at the bottom-right launches a set of screens telling you more about CC Charts
- The chart types at the top of the widget will become available as the feature develops
- The icon at the bottom-left allows you to duplicate the chart
- The Edit on Creative Cloud button gets you into the CC Charts service in your web browser
Editing Chart Artwork
- Changing the default artwork is very easy; start by drawing new art or add some art to the artboard—this could be content from your shared CC libraries, or even something from market or from the Shape mobile app. Just keep in mind that complex objects (such as things containing gradient mesh art and rasterized objects) are not supported.
- Drag the artwork onto the chart!
- The chart updates with the new art in place and scaled to represent the values.
Editing The Chart in Creative Cloud Web View
The chances are quite high that you’ll want to modify the chart data, and to do that we need to click on the Edit on Creative Cloud button; this will open in your default browser.
Immediately above the chart in this view you’ll have a link to modify the data; in this screen you’ll see the default values to draw your initial chart—you can either type new values into the cells directly or import data from a spreadsheet (.csv, .xls or .xlsx files) using the plus icon above the data or the big Import Data button to the right.
Once the data is imported, you’ll need to select the range of data to be used in the chart. Click on the first value and shift-click on the last value in the range. Once you do so, an Apply button/menu will appear; clicking the hot-dog menu will reveal other options for editing or transforming the data. When done, tap Apply to commit the data to the chart—you’ll see it update in the preview window on the right—and then you can return to the Chart ‘tab’.
Initially, your chart will be in free-form mode; in this mode you can drag the individual value representations to alternate locations, set the scale base size for the art or change to stretch-to-fit representation.
With the flow mode you can control various alignment and spacing options directly in the browser:
Once done, you can click Save and the chart will be added to your active CC Library:
You can edit the chart with the Direct Selection Tool, including repositioning the representations and modifying colours. You may for example want to reposition representations in your artwork to illustrate geographically related values over a map, for example:
The great thing is that you’re still linked to the data in CC Charts. If you click the button to edit, you’ll see that everything is just as it is in the artwork, so if you had some values to modify, it would simply be a matter of changing the values and saving the chart—it would update automatically in the document.
A Few More Hints & Tips
When you’re editing a chart on Creative Cloud, in addition to modifying the data and the appearance of the chart, you can perform a few other actions:
- Share: Click Share > Send Link to forward a link of the image of the chart to a client or colleague via email.
- See Details: Next to the Edit Chart tab in the web view, you can click the link to view various details about the chart, such as the creation/modification dates/times and file size.
- Change Your View: Above the chart in the web view, you can specify a zoom value, choose to fit the chart to the available space, or a 1:1 view.
To rename or delete your chart, use the Actions menu above the Save button.
Remember that you can influence the development of CC Charts—when you’re in the web view there’s a Feedback tab at the bottom of the screen that takes you to a survey form, where you can rate and add comments on CC Charts. You’ll be helping to shape this feature.