Note: This product is no longer available. Andreas passed away sometime ago. May his soul rest in peace.
You can use Excel 2013 / 2016’s built in recommended charts feature along with default color scheme make this product almost irrelevant.
Readers of this blog repeatedly ask these questions when it comes to charting,
- Which chart should I use?
- What colors to use?
- How to format the chart better so that it looks good when printed / presented?
- How to do all this without wasting big part of my day?
Well, my dear reader, if this rings a bell with you, then you should probably consider Bonavista Chart Tamer excel add in. It is designed by the same folks who made the Bonavista Excel Microcharts product.
I was part of the private beta team which tested this great product few months back and have been using off and on ever since. So, when Andreas (the person behind Bonavista Systems, more here) mailed me 3 weeks back about the release of this tool, I couldn’t wait to write a review of this.
So what is Chart Tamer all about?
Chart tamer aims to solve the 2 pressing problems any excel user faces: (1) Which chart should I use? (2) How do I format it better?
You select some data, hit the chart tamer button in your excel interface, pick a chart based on what you want to show and bingo, you have your chart ready.
Who is behind this product?
Trust me when I say this not a run of the mill product. This tool is conceptualized and designed by Stephen Few (author of Information Dashboard Design), Bonavista Systems and Maureen Stone of Stone Soup Consulting who specializes in digital color. The combination sounded too good to be true. But yes, they got together and designed this wonderful little tool.
What is so great about chart tamer?
Chart selection made simple
When you are ready to create a new chart using chart tamer, just hit the chart tamer icon from your excel menu. And you see this beautifully designed UI. There are 2 ways to get started.
(1) You can specify the type of relationship your chart should depict and Chart tamer recommends the charts you should use. For eg. if you want to show the distribution of values, select “distribution” and you will see that the recommended charting options are Column, Bar, Line, Stacked Column, Stacked Bar and Dotted Line.
(2) You can also select the type of chart directly. This is more suitable if you already know what type of chart you want to construct.
Colors that work
We are good with numbers, charts and analysis. But when it comes to colors lot of don’t know the difference between magenta and margarita. And we shouldn’t really bother too. That is where chart tamer can help you. It has a color picker tool that provides excellent contrast and comparison. See it below.
Better formatted charts by default
How many times you have created a chart in excel and then tweaked it to get the desired effect. Well, with chart tamer, hopefully you spend less time formatting the chart and more time selling your story. Chart tamer reduces chart junk (like axis, labels etc.) by default and strives to improve data to ink ratio. See an example chart below.
Charts like box plot and dot&strip plot are bundled
Yes, that is true. When you install chart tamer, you can also create box plot and dot&strip plot with out any extra work.
See my review of chart tamer in You tube:
Youtube link in case you are not able to see this: Bonavista Chart Tamer Video review
What is not so great about it?
Chart tamer is designed for people who would love to stick to strong visualization principles and make good charts. That means, no to certain types of charts like donut charts, 3D charts etc. But the good news is, you can still create those charts using excel’s own charting options. What more, you can color the charts using chart tamer’s color picker dialog.
So, go ahead and give it a try
You can download a 30 day trial version of the software or buy a license of it from the chart tamer product page.
You can even buy a bundled version of chart tamer along with Bonavista microcharts. Go here.
I have used my affiliate code to recommend this product because I think it totally kicks ass.
What do you think about the chart tamer?
Have you tried it? Tell me what you think about it.