I am using Google's visualization API for drawing charts that show files downloaded each day.

I don't know if this is the best idea, but I am thinking of showing download counts on the Y-axis, weekdays (Monday, Tuesday, etc.) on the X-axis, while the legend would show the name of the files. I am facing a problem when the names/legend of files goes out of bound which makes the bars too close and confused even with color variations.

So, what alternative visualization technique might be applied in this case?

  • $\begingroup$ how many files do you have? $\endgroup$
    – suncoolsu
    Aug 5, 2011 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ @suncoolsu about 10 now, but there is no limit. It's a file manager so many files could potentially land in there $\endgroup$ Aug 5, 2011 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ That's what I thought. Your aim is to visualize the number of file downloads over the week, or do you want to see which files are being downloaded. $\endgroup$
    – suncoolsu
    Aug 5, 2011 at 8:34
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I am a bit lost. Could you please help me with -- i) What do you want to see or visualize in this graph. ii) I can see that you have a time variable, no. of downloads variable, and possibly file names (which to me seems like a bad variable to include if it can grow to a huge collection), what other variables are you measuring. Barchart is ok, but you can do better since you have a time-variable with an ordering property. Maybe something like a line-plot. $\endgroup$
    – suncoolsu
    Aug 8, 2011 at 6:31
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    $\begingroup$ Will the chart be interactive? In that case you could just show TOTAL number of downloads, irrispective of the file and clicking on a single point could trigger the display of a bargraph showing the counts per file for that single time point. $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Oct 7, 2011 at 12:07

1 Answer 1


Depending on the number of files, I would recommend a stacked area chart, or a series of stacked bar plots. However, this will still become busy if you have too many files. If you don't want to stack the files, then it might be worthwhile to sort the bars based on which file is downloaded most, this will usually make the graph easier to read.

However, once you go past a certain number of files, it becomes a little pointless to display the statistics for all the files together on one charts. A better statistic might be just to have a +-% compared to the mean for each file.


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