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Polar clock using donut chart [Excel Visualization fun]



Smashing Magazine is one of daily hangouts for new design ideas, inspiration and ogle fun. When they featured Pixel Breaker’s Polar clock last Friday on Top 10 creative ways to display time, I knew this could be an interesting visualization to do in excel. So I have created a donut chart in excel that can show current time. To refresh the clock, just hit f9.


excel-donut-pie-charts-dataIn order to create this I have taken now() and used date time functions to figure out the current day, month, weekday, minutes, hour, seconds day(), weekday(), month(), minute(), hour(), second() respectively and tabulated them like this:

Then the donut chart was created and I have removed the blank portion’s fill color, border and adjusted the other colors.

Of course there are few differences between my chart and that of Pixelbreaker’s (shown aside):


  • The chart is not animated, I didnt want to write any VBA, so the chart is not animated and in order to see the animation effect, you have to hold the F9 key
  • The labels are outside, well, there is really no way I can put labels inside the donut stripes using excel. So I choose to leave them outside. But there is a problem with that too since with each passing second / minute / hour excel is realigning the labels to somewhere else in the plot area. So I removed the labels permanently and used excel cells directly beneath the chart to show them.

All in all it is a fun experiment in Excel to start another week of awesome tips.

Download the polar clock in excel using donut charts excel sheet and play around.

More on Clocks: Give your timeseries data a twist, plot around clock

More on Visualization fun: Tag clouds in excel using VBA, Square Pies in Excel, not everything is round
, Olympic Medals on a map


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12 Responses to “Polar clock using donut chart [Excel Visualization fun]”

  1. Branden says:

    That is really clever, nicely done.

  2. Jon Peltier says:

    Chandoo -

    You provide good topics for conversation:
    Time is on My Side

  3. MALIK says:

    NICE work n great creativity but the problem is the person didn't explain it completly . but still hats off man i m faceing the problem is where do i get donut chat axis.. can any 1 help me ?

  4. darone says:

    I thought that idea was a great one, and I started playing at creating my own. I changed a few things that I think make it a little smoother. I have the minutes include the fraction of the seconds, the hour the fraction of the minutes and seconds, day of the hour minutes and seconds... this makes it so that all of the pieces move a little bit more often so that you don't get big jumps when it changes from Tuesday to Wednesday, or 5pm to 6pm. I thought that was a nice little addition in the hopes of making things more fluid. I created a macro of me pressing F9 a bunch of times, and then a macro of me pressing the first macro a bunch of times to make it all happen automatically for a couple of hours, but it ate up lots and lots of system resources.

  5. Chandoo says:

    @Branden: thank you 🙂
    @Jon, with someone like you, conversation is always a pleasure and enriching...
    @Malik: welcome to PHD blog. Yeah, I should have added the exact step of creating a donut chart, may be in some other post.
    @Darone: welcome to PHD... 🙂 Thanks for sharing the idea with our readers.

    hitting f9 constantly using macros can eat up whole processing power. Better way to do it is to use sleep or wait commands between subsequent f9 calls through vba. You have to realize that time doesn't change that often.. 😀 it would suffice if you can call recalculate once every second. Alternatively if you have the additional active-x controls enabled you could use timer control and write events on that.. but that would take out the fun 😀

  6. Jon Peltier says:

    Malik - There is no donut chart axis.
    Darone & Chandoo - I've uploaded a workbook that updates the time regularly without eating up all of Excel's resources:

  7. [...] few techniques involving pie chart visualizations like in-cell pie charts, speedometer charts, donut clocks and the response from readers has been [...]

  8. [...] Polar clock using donut chart - Chandoo shows an alternative clock representation with an Excel donut chart, and led to my Time is on My Side post (from Pointy Haired Dilbert - Chandoo.org). [...]

  9. [...] Earlier fun using donuts and other types of charts: Polar Clocks in Excel [...]

  10. robin says:

    exellent work.... fantastic

  11. […] Magazine showing Top 10 creative ways to display time, and he took a crack at duplicating a polar clock using an Excel donut chart. Chandoo did a fine job with his copy of Pixel Breaker’s Polar Clock, though the style itself […]

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