Visual Storytelling: The Little Prince and Our New Embedded Charts

JUN 29, 2010

“My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant.”
The Little Prince, Chapter 1 - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Drawing Number One

Inspired by the Little Prince and in honor of
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 110th birthday, we are dedicating this blog post to his timeless masterpiece The Little Prince.

The Little Prince starts with a picture titled “Drawing Number One”, which grown-ups typically interpret as a hat, but only the acute eye of a child can reveal is actually a snake digesting an elephant. Well, unfortunately we were those kids who just saw it as a sum of two Gaussians.

As the team responsible for Google’s Chart Tools, we continuously think about how to enrich your options for visual storytelling on the web. To be able to generate figures like the one above, we thought it will be cool to enhance the Image Chart API with the capability to draw TeX formulas and plot mathematical functions. Once we added these capabilities, we thought it would be even more useful to combine the two into one chart, and therefore developed a simple way to place one chart within another chart. This chart embedding is not just limited to formulas and equations; it can be applied to any combination of chart types.

As you can see, we are working hard to support all of your visualization needs, but please always keep in mind the saying of the little prince’s fox:

(a creative contribution to our user submitted charts by James Andrews)

Before saying goodbye, we invite you to open the figures above in a new tab. This way you can observe how they are rendered using URL based requests to our Image Chart server.

"And no grown-up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance!"

Roger Trias Sanz and Nimrod Talmon,
On behalf of the Google Chart Tools team