Top 5 JavaScript Libraries to Create an Organizational Chart

Top 5 JavaScript Libraries to Create an Organizational Chart

In this article, you'll learn top 5 JavaScript libraries that allow you to create online organizational charts.

Here are five options with a range of capabilities, customizations, and price points to begin building your organizational chart.

To make this info useful for different categories of readers, we’ve gathered together libraries with different functionality and pricing policy. To help you decide whether one of them is worthy of your attention or not, we’ll take a look at the main features and check if the documentation is user-friendly.

DHTMLX Diagram Library

The DHTMLX diagram library allows creating easily configurable graphs for visualization of hierarchical data. Starting from version 2.0, besides org charts, you can create almost any type of hierarchical diagrams. You can choose from organizational charts, block and network diagrams, hierarchical diagrams, mind maps and other types of diagrams.

The library has an exporting feature. You can export your diagram to a PDF or PNG file. The edit mode gives an opportunity to make changes on-the-fly without messing with the source code. An interactive interface of the editor supports drag-and-drop and permits you to change each item of your diagram. You can drag diagram items with your mouse and set the size and position property of an item via the editor. Diagram nodes can contain text, custom HTML and SVG elements as well as images. You can use custom CSS styles to create a unique style for your diagram. Zooming and scrolling features will be useful in case if you work with diagrams containing a big number of items. To show the structure of an organization compactly, you can use the vertical mode.

The documentation page will appeal both to beginners and experienced developers. A well-written beginner’s guide contains the source code with explanations. A bunch of guides will help with further configuration, so you’ll be able to create a diagram that better suits your needs. At the moment, there are two types of licenses available. theCommercial license for the team of five or fewer developers will cost you $149, while an enterprise license will cost $399 per company.

Rappid Diagramming Framework

Rappid is a framework that allows developing online apps for creating different types of diagrams. With this tool, you can provide users with an access to interactive flowcharts, diagrams, and graphs. The UI of Rappid-based apps is fully customizable, so you can achieve the desired user experience and create appearance according to the style of your site. Rappid can be integrated with any online application and works well with any back-end technology.

This framework is designed to create Business Process Management tools, org charts, floor planners, and many other visualizations. If there is any data that can be visualized in 2D with the use of HTML5 and SVG, Rappid is the tool to get the job done. It’s compatible with major JavaScript frameworks such as jQuery, Angular, React, and Backbone.js. Also, this framework supports mobile devices, what enables you to create apps for tablets and smartphones.

Rappid provides developers with a wide variety of plugins to make complex visualization apps. Configurable control panels help you keep important tools close at hand. You can export your diagrams to JSON, PNG, JPEG, or SVG formats. There’s an option to change the layout of graph elements into a tree or grid, for example. You can add different types of charts to your diagram. These and many other plugins expand the functionality of Rappid-based applications.

You can check the demo page and a bunch of detailed tutorials, which provide info on the main features of Rappid and contains source code along with explanations. Rappid is a decent choice for those who are going to create an online visualization app that will meet the needs of the most demanding users. The standard support package will cost you 1500 Euros for a single developer, and the premium support package that includes extended support will cost 2500 Euros.

yFiles for HTML

yFiles for HTML enables you to add diagrams to your HTML5 web applications. This library provides different UI components for drawing and viewing editable graphs and diagrams. You can create client-side applications that don’t require any plugins or server components. However, if needed you can use server components based on Java or .NET for automatic layout or if you’re dealing with computationally-intensive tasks. It’s a pure JavaScript tool which works with major frameworks such as Angular and React. It supports the latest ECMAScript 6 features and permits the usage of TypeScript bindings.

The demo page demonstrates possibilities of this library. Almost every type of diagram, from mindmap to Sankey diagram, can be created with yFiles for HTML. The documentation page is pretty exhaustive and contains a step-by-step guide along with an API reference. yFiles for HTML has the most flexible pricing. You can choose a license for a single developer, for a team of 3 developers or for big teams consisting of more than four developers. The pricing starts from $11,900.00 and mounts up depending on the options you choose: license for a single app or for multiple apps, the number of domains that will be used, and other important aspects.

Google Charts

The organization chart is one of the chart types that you can create with Google Charts. Google charts is a set of simple yet powerful tools. There’s a rich gallery of charts to choose from. All charts are fully configurable what makes it easy to create a unique look and feel for your apps. Google Charts can work in all modern browsers and support all modern platforms with no need to install any plugins. It’s a free tool, so if you want to save your money and use the same chart tools as Google uses, this option will be a good choice for you.

GetOrgChart

GetOrgChart is designed for making neat flowcharts using HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. Using server-side components, developers can implement a specially crafted editing interface. To create unique appearance for your app, you can make use of a set of default skins and color palettes or make your own set. If your users work with big diagrams, a search field which allows finding a particular item will serve as a handful tool. Also, there’s a table mode in which raw data can be displayed without any visual elements.

The edit mode makes it easy to create and edit diagram items. All you have to do is type a name, title, some additional info, and GetOrgChart will build your diagram automatically. If you work with a big data set, you can collapse your diagram leaving only the part you’re working with. GetOrgChart has a zooming feature and enables navigation between items with navigation buttons. One of the best things about GetOrgChart is that it doesn’t require any special programming skills due to simple configuration syntax.

**GetOrgChart **is quite a minimalist tool judging by its demo page. If all you need from a library is a simple and easy-to-use org chart, it’ll be a decent choice. The documentation page is not very detailed and doesn’t contain any step-by-step guides. All you can get is an API reference. The good news is that **GetOrgChart **is the most affordable option among the libraries we’ve discussed (besides free Google Charts). You can use it for free for non-commercial projects, while the price of commercial license starts from 99$.

Conclusion

The choice of libraries for making org charts turns out to be really wide. Depending on your needs and, of course, your budget you can pick free and simple tools or more complicated and costly ones. You can try Google Charts absolutely for free and check if its functionality covers your needs. You might also like to choose GetOrgChart as a free tool for non-commercial projects. It can’t boast a detailed documentation page, yet it’s quite easy-to-use even if you don’t possess special programming skills. DHTMLX diagram library has moderate prices and provides a wide range of diagrams as well as some nice features for more elaborate charts with custom CSS. Rappid might be useful for creating apps for mobile devices at a reasonable price as well. yFiles allows creating almost any type of diagrams, however, the pricing is quite expensive. So it’s only left to choose the most suitable option for your purpose.

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JavaScript developers should you be using Web Workers?

JavaScript developers should you be using Web Workers?

Do you think JavaScript developers should be making more use of Web Workers to shift execution off of the main thread?

Originally published by David Gilbertson at https://medium.com

So, Web Workers. Those wonderful little critters that allow us to execute JavaScript off the main thread.

Also known as “no, you’re thinking of Service Workers”.

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

Before I get into the meat of the article, please sit for a lesson in how computers work:

Understood? Good.

For the red/green colourblind, let me explain. While a CPU is doing one thing, it can’t be doing another thing, which means you can’t sort a big array while a user scrolls the screen.

This is bad, if you have a big array and users with fingers.

Enter, Web Workers. These split open the atomic concept of a ‘CPU’ and allow us to think in terms of threads. We can use one thread to handle user-facing work like touch events and rendering the UI, and different threads to carry out all other work.

Check that out, the main thread is green the whole way through, ready to receive and respond to the gentle caress of a user.

You’re excited (I can tell), if we only have UI code on the main thread and all other code can go in a worker, things are going to be amazing (said the way Oprah would say it).

But cool your jets for just a moment, because websites are mostly about the UI — it’s why we have screens. And a lot of a user’s interactions with your site will be tapping on the screen, waiting for a response, reading, tapping, looking, reading, and so on.

So we can’t just say “here’s some JS that takes 20ms to run, chuck it on a thread”, we must think about where that execution time exists in the user’s world of tap, read, look, read, tap…

I like to boil this down to one specific question:

Is the user waiting anyway?

Imagine we have created some sort of git-repository-hosting website that shows all sorts of things about a repository. We have a cool feature called ‘issues’. A user can even click an ‘issues’ tab in our website to see a list of all issues relating to the repository. Groundbreaking!

When our users click this issues tab, the site is going to fetch the issue data, process it in some way — perhaps sort, or format dates, or work out which icon to show — then render the UI.

Inside the user’s computer, that’ll look exactly like this.

Look at that processing stage, locking up the main thread even though it has nothing to do with the UI! That’s terrible, in theory.

But think about what the human is actually doing at this point. They’re waiting for the common trio of network/process/render; just sittin’ around with less to do than the Bolivian Navy.

Because we care about our users, we show a loading indicator to let them know we’ve received their request and are working on it — putting the human in a ‘waiting’ state. Let’s add that to the diagram.

Now that we have a human in the picture, we can mix in a Web Worker and think about the impact it will have on their life:

Hmmm.

First thing to note is that we’re not doing anything in parallel. We need the data from the network before we process it, and we need to process the data before we can render the UI. The elapsed time doesn’t change.

(BTW, the time involved in moving data to a Web Worker and back is negligible: 1ms per 100 KB is a decent rule of thumb.)

So we can move work off the main thread and have a page that is responsive during that time, but to what end? If our user is sitting there looking at a spinner for 600ms, have we enriched their experience by having a responsive screen for the middle third?

No.

I’ve fudged these diagrams a little bit to make them the gorgeous specimens of graphic design that they are, but they’re not really to scale.

When responding to a user request, you’ll find that the network and DOM-manipulating part of any given task take much, much longer than the pure-JS data processing part.

I saw an article recently making the case that updating a Redux store was a good candidate for Web Workers because it’s not UI work (and non-UI work doesn’t belong on the main thread).

Chucking the data processing over to a worker thread sounds sensible, but the idea struck me as a little, umm, academic.

First, let’s split instances of ‘updating a store’ into two categories:

  1. Updating a store in response to a user interaction, then updating the UI in response to the data change
  2. Not that first one

If the first scenario, a user taps a button on the screen — perhaps to change the sort order of a list. The store updates, and this results in a re-rendering of the DOM (since that’s the point of a store).

Let me just delete one thing from the previous diagram:

In my experience, it is rare that the store-updating step goes beyond a few dozen milliseconds, and is generally followed by ten times that in DOM updating, layout, and paint. If I’ve got a site that’s taking longer than this, I’d be asking questions about why I have so much data in the browser and so much DOM, rather than on which thread I should do my processing.

So the question we’re faced with is the same one from above: the user tapped something on the screen, we’re going to work on that request for hopefully less than a second, why would we want to make the screen responsive during that time?

OK what about the second scenario, where a store update isn’t in response to a user interaction? Performing an auto-save, for example — there’s nothing more annoying than an app becoming unresponsive doing something you didn’t ask it to do.

Actually there’s heaps of things more annoying than that. Teens, for example.

Anyhoo, if you’re doing an auto-save and taking 100ms to process data client-side before sending it off to a server, then you should absolutely use a Web Worker.

In fact, any ‘background’ task that the user hasn’t asked for, or isn’t waiting for, is a good candidate for moving to a Web Worker.

The matter of value

Complexity is expensive, and implementing Web Workers ain’t cheap.

If you’re using a bundler — and you are — you’ll have a lot of reading to do, and probably npm packages to install. If you’ve got a create-react-app app, prepare to eject (and put aside two days twice a year to update 30 different packages when the next version of Babel/Redux/React/ESLint comes out).

Also, if you want to share anything fancier than plain data between a worker and the main thread you’ve got some more reading to do (comlink is your friend).

What I’m getting at is this: if the benefit is real, but minimal, then you’ve gotta ask if there’s something else you could spend a day or two on with a greater benefit to your users.

This thinking is true of everything, of course, but I’ve found that Web Workers have a particularly poor benefit-to-effort ratio.

Hey David, why you hate Web Workers so bad?

Good question.

This is a doweling jig:

I own a doweling jig. I love my doweling jig. If I need to drill a hole into the end of a piece of wood and ensure that it’s perfectly perpendicular to the surface, I use my doweling jig.

But I don’t use it to eat breakfast. For that I use a spoon.

Four years ago I was working on some fancy animations. They looked slick on a fast device, but janky on a slow one. So I wrote fireball-js, which executes a rudimentary performance benchmark on the user’s device and returns a score, allowing me to run my animations only on devices that would render them smoothly.

Where’s the best spot to run some CPU intensive code that the user didn’t request? On a different thread, of course. A Web Worker was the correct tool for the job.

Fast forward to 2019 and you’ll find me writing a routing algorithm for a mapping application. This requires parsing a big fat GeoJSON map into a collection of nodes and edges, to be used when a user asks for directions. The processing isn’t in response to a user request and the user isn’t waiting on it. And so, a Web Worker is the correct tool for the job.

It was only when doing this that it dawned on me: in the intervening quartet of years, I have seen exactly zero other instances where Web Workers would have improved the user experience.

Contrast this with a recent resurgence in Web Worker wonderment, and combine that contrast with the fact that I couldn’t think of anything else to write about, then concatenate that combined contrast with my contrarian character and you’ve got yourself a blog post telling you that maybe Web Workers are a teeny-tiny bit overhyped.

Thanks for reading

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Further reading

An Introduction to Web Workers

JavaScript Web Workers: A Beginner’s Guide

Using Web Workers to Real-time Processing

How to use Web Workers in Angular app

Using Web Workers with Angular CLI


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