In Cell Charting

I discovered a while ago that you can create a Shape from a user-defined function.
This opens the possibility for having custom made graphics dependent on other cells. Meaning, when the data changes, your graphic changes too.

Some possible graphics include line charts, gantt charts, Excel12 style traffic lights.

As an example, I’ve put together a very basic Sparkline (in-cell line chart) graphic. If you want to know more about Sparklines, start at ewbi.develops

I have a userdefined function named LineChart. It will take a row of values and use them to create a simple linechart within the cell containing the formula.

The formula in cell K1 is =LineChart(A1:J1, 203)
A1:J1 are the data values
203 repesents the colour value for RGB(203, 0, 0)

Finally, the code behind the user-defined function:

Function LineChart(Points As Range, Color As Long) As String
Const cMargin = 2
Dim rng As Range, arr() As Variant, i As Long, j As Long, k As Long
Dim dblMin As Double, dblMax As Double, shp As Shape

Set rng = Application.Caller

ShapeDelete rng

For i = 1 To Points.Count
If j = 0 Then
j = i
ElseIf Points(, j) > Points(, i) Then
j = i
End If
If k = 0 Then
k = i
ElseIf Points(, k) < Points(, i) Then k = i End If Next dblMin = Points(, j) dblMax = Points(, k) With rng.Worksheet.Shapes For i = 0 To Points.Count - 2 Set shp = .AddLine( _ cMargin + rng.Left + (i * (rng.Width - (cMargin * 2)) / (Points.Count - 1)), _ cMargin + rng.Top + (dblMax - Points(, i + 1)) * (rng.Height - (cMargin * 2)) / (dblMax - dblMin), _ cMargin + rng.Left + ((i + 1) * (rng.Width - (cMargin * 2)) / (Points.Count - 1)), _ cMargin + rng.Top + (dblMax - Points(, i + 2)) * (rng.Height - (cMargin * 2)) / (dblMax - dblMin)) On Error Resume Next j = 0: j = UBound(arr) + 1 On Error GoTo 0 ReDim Preserve arr(j) arr(j) = shp.Name Next With rng.Worksheet.Shapes.Range(arr) .Group If Color > 0 Then .Line.ForeColor.RGB = Color Else .Line.ForeColor.SchemeColor = -Color
End With

End With

LineChart = ""
End Function

Sub ShapeDelete(rngSelect As Range)
Dim rng As Range, shp As Shape, blnDelete As Boolean

For Each shp In rngSelect.Worksheet.Shapes
blnDelete = False
Set rng = Intersect(Range(shp.TopLeftCell, shp.BottomRightCell), rngSelect)
If Not rng Is Nothing Then
If rng.Address = Range(shp.TopLeftCell, shp.BottomRightCell).Address Then blnDelete = True
End If

If blnDelete Then shp.Delete
Next
End Sub

ShapeDelete is an alteration of the ShapeDelete code available on my website
Note that Application.Caller is used to determine which cell is running the formula. That is also used for determining the boundaries of the cell.
One “gotcha” about UDF charts is that you cannot create any shape that writes Text. That can make drawing Legend tables or Value indicators difficult. That said, it’s great for drawing graphics.

87 thoughts on “In Cell Charting

  1. Hi Rob –

    This is way cool. I looked at sparklines a while back after reading one of Tufte’s books. My approach was to use a small chart object, the size of the cell, but this was impractical (obviously, or should I say, duh!).

    In the meantime I’ve built one-cell charts using shapes (overlapping rectangles mostly), and I’ve built shapes in charts to help shade particular regions (http://peltiertech.com/Excel/Charts/VBAdraw.html). But I hadn’t thought of putting the two approaches together. And certainly I hadn’t thought of a UDF to handle it; I would not have expected it to work.

    First I’m going to retool my in-cell bar chart utility (it looks like the Excel 12 conditional formatting, only cooler) to work as a UDF. Then I’m going to play with the sparkline graphics.

    Thanks for posting this.

    – Jon

  2. It was just after writing my wind direction post that I discovered UDF charts.

    While writing this comment, I decided to convert Wind Direction to a UDF chart:
    (I do hope the code appears correctly in this comment:

    Function WindDirectionChart(Degrees As Double) As String
        Const cMargin = 2, cPI_180 = 3.14159265358979 / 180
        Dim rng As Range, arr() As Variant, shp As Shape
        Dim dblX As Double, dblY As Double

        Set rng = Application.Caller

        ShapeDelete rng

        dblX = rng.Left + rng.Width / 2
        dblY = rng.Top + rng.Height / 2
        Set shp = rng.Worksheet.Shapes.AddLine(dblX, dblY, _
            dblX + Cos(Degrees * cPI_180) * (rng.Width / 2 – cMargin), _
            dblY + Sin(Degrees * cPI_180) * (rng.Height / 2 – cMargin))
        shp.Line.BeginArrowheadStyle = msoArrowheadOval
        shp.Line.BeginArrowheadLength = msoArrowheadShort
        shp.Line.BeginArrowheadWidth = msoArrowheadNarrow
        shp.Line.EndArrowheadStyle = msoArrowheadStealth

        WindDirectionChart = “”
    End Function

  3. I played with “UDF shapes” shortly after a MVP shared the *loophole* in the documented restriction that a UDF cannot change the XL environment. Didn’t think of using it for a chart, though. That is a really slick idea. Here’s something to think about…

    Yes, it is possible to do what you did. However, in addition to being inconsistent with the documentation, it could also be construed as a potential security hole. One could even argue that such loopholes raise questions about the concept of “trustworthy” computing.

    Bottom line…one cannot preclude the possibility that MS will get serious about reliable and robust programs and start closing various loopholes in its programs.

    A way to implement what you want and remain within the bounds of existing rules is outlined below. A bonus of the below approach is that it *might* improve performance. I used it a year or two ago and it was quite effective.

    The UDF should update a data structure with information about what needs to be done — maybe a UDT that indicates source range, destination range, etc., in a dynamic array (or a collection). Then, check a global date variable and if zero set it to Now() and schedule a procedure with the OnTime method.

    Once XL is done recalculating, it will run the scheduled procedure. This procedure can update all the charts (or, in general, all shapes) flagged through the array of the previous paragraph.

    I don’t know how this will be affected by changes in XL12.

  4. Hi Rob,

    Nice job!

    Playing around with this I added a optional argument to the LineChart function to allow plotting of data markers. Using the same technique as your wind direction example.

  5. Well, Stephen is the expert, but I’m kinda with John, i cant really see how the ribbions can be made as customisable as menu’s and toolbars – are there still floting toolbars in v12?
    And i really dont know how the backwards compat. will work – all custom meuns get stuck in a special bit right – is that the same with custom menu items aswell?

    Good news for Dick, key strokes should still work ;-)

  6. SORRY!!!! Worng place!!!

    This is very cool Rob, I’ve seen shapes used to good effect for charts and the like, but wow, with a UDF – i would never have thought that could be done – it’s always been – you cant modify with UDF’s you cant modify with UDF. Very cool, thanks Rob!!!

  7. Posted this yesterday but for some reason it still doesn’t appear in the comments section…

    I played with “UDF shapes” shortly after a MVP shared the *loophole* in the documented restriction that a UDF cannot change the XL environment. Didn’t think of using it for a chart, though. That is a really slick idea.

    Here’s something to think about…Yes, it is possible to do what you did. Of course, in addition to being inconsistent with the documentation, it could also be construed as a potential security hole.

    Bottom line…one cannot preclude the possibility that MS will get serious about “trustworthy” computing and start closing various loopholes in its programs.

    A way to implement what you want and remain within the bounds of existing rules is outlined below. I used it a year or two ago and it was quite effective.

    In the UDF update a data structure with information about what needs to be done — maybe a UDT that indicates source range, destination range, etc., in a dynamic array (or a collection). Then, check a global date variable and if zero set it to Now() and schedule a procedure with the OnTime method.

    Once XL is done recalculating, it will run the scheduled procedure. This procedure can update all the charts (or, in general, all shapes) flagged for revision.

    I don’t know how the above will be affected by XL12.

  8. Rob, this is a great UDF. I could have used this back in my engineering days where I had a million charts that did nothing but clog my worksheets.

    By the way, my only comment is that the UDF errors out if all the values are the same. It would nice to see a simple straight line down the middle of the cell.

  9. A simplification?

    j = 1
    k = 1
    For i = 1 To Points.Count
    If Points(, j) > Points(, i) Then
    j = i
    End If
    If Points(, k)

  10. Looks like it got truncated:

    j = 1
    k = 1
    For i = 1 To Points.Count
    If Points(, j) > Points(, i) Then
    j = i
    End If
    If Points(, k)

  11. Problems a bunch. For the 3rd try:

    j = 1
    k = 1
    For i = 1 To Points.Count
    If Points(, j) > Points(, i) Then
    j = i
    End If
    If Points(, k)

  12. Hi Michael,

    You could use this to replace the testing for min max values. And the test for equal values allows for the same value across all points.

    dblMin = WorksheetFunction.Min(Points)
    dblMax = WorksheetFunction.Max(Points)

    If dblMin = dblMax Then
    dblMin = dblMin – 1
    dblMax = dblMax + 1
    End If

  13. Andy –

    Thanks. I’m traveling in rarified air when I post here. In general, is it better to “roll you own” VBA function or to use a worksheetfunction call?

    WRT my posting problem, I found an old P.S. that probably explains the problem:

    “P.S. If you leave a comment with a formula use ampersand-gee-tee-semicolon for greater than and ampersand-ell-tee-semicolon for less than.”

    Remaining code was similar to what did make it.

    Thanks,
    Michael

  14. Michael,

    In general if the built-in function does the job then use it. I’m pretty sure these functions process quicker than any VBA code equivalent.

  15. Tushar: I have the same concerns about whether this “feature” will persist in future versions.
    Indeed, one could have the UDF append to a job list and have a scheduled task do the drawing.
    The effort involved in converting UDF charts to scheduled jobs is minimal, regret low, so personally I’d still be comfortable going UDF… for now…

    I dont have XL12 beta to test. I’d be interested to know if it still works.

    Michael, Andy: I had plans allowing a user to override min/max, but decided to keep it simple – turned out to be complicated, sorry.
    Andy – thats a much better way to determine Min/Max.

  16. It doesn’t work in Excel 12 Beta 1. Sometimes the little chart appears. Sometimes it produces a BIG chart. But the cell with the formula always returns a #VALUE! error.

    It may be related to Beta 1’s generally poor screen rendering.

  17. Hi Rob,

    I find it very useful!

    Would it take much …?
    Is it possible to show a bar graph (clustered column) instead of a line chart?

    Cheers Sige

  18. Sige,

    The different would be gaps between bars and a different min/max effect.
    I dont think it would be very difficult though (famous last words)….

    Let me see what I can put together.

    Rob

  19. Fingers crossed the comment appears correctly:

    Function BarChart(Points As Range, Color As Long) As String
        Const cMargin = 2, cGap = 1
        Dim rng As Range, arr() As Variant, i As Long, j As Long, sng As Double, sngIntv As Single
        Dim sngLeft As Single, sngTop As Single, sngWidth As Single, sngHeight As Single
        Dim sngMin As Single, sngMax As Single, shp As Shape

        Set rng = Application.Caller

        ShapeDelete rng

        sngMin = WorksheetFunction.Min(Points)
        sngMax = WorksheetFunction.Max(Points)
        If sngMin > 0 Then sngMin = 0

        With rng.Worksheet.Shapes
            For i = 0 To Points.Count – 1
                sng = Points(, i + 1)
                sngIntv = (rng.Height – (cMargin * 2)) / (sngMax – sngMin)
                sngLeft = cMargin + cGap + rng.Left + (i * (rng.Width – (cMargin * 2)) / Points.Count)
                sngTop = cMargin + rng.Top + (sngMax – IIf(sng < 0, 0, sng)) * sngIntv
                sngWidth = (rng.Width – (cMargin * 2)) / Points.Count – (cGap * 2)
                sngHeight = Abs(sng) * sngIntv
                Set shp = .AddShape(msoShapeRectangle, sngLeft, sngTop, sngWidth, sngHeight)

                On Error Resume Next
                j = 0: j = UBound(arr) + 1
                On Error GoTo 0
                ReDim Preserve arr(j)
                arr(j) = shp.Name
            Next

            With rng.Worksheet.Shapes.Range(arr)
                .Group

                If Color > 0 Then .Fill.ForeColor.RGB = Color Else .Fill.ForeColor.SchemeColor = -Color
            End With

        End With

        BarChart = “”
    End Function

  20. To ghet back to Jon’s remark.

    Here is a general way to mimic Excel 12 Conditional formatting.

    Function IConditionalFormat(Target As Range, Optional RefreshShape As Boolean = True, Optional PicType As Long = 0, Optional PicIndex As Long = 0, Optional Color As Long = 0, Optional IconHeight As Double = 1, Optional IconWidth As Double = 0, Optional Margin As Double = 2, Optional Origin As Long = 0) As Long

    Dim shp As Shape
    Dim sngTop As Single
    Dim sngLeft As Single

    ‘ UDF Function based on adding shapes to sheet by DM Unseen.
    ‘ Inspired by RvGelder’s In Cell Charting and Excel 12 extended conditional formatting
    ‘ The UDF can be used to mimic in cell icons that react in shape/color to the cell value
    ‘ It can also be used to show a bar or any other shape whose size/color needs to be
    ‘ linked to formulas
    ‘ Note that it is best to stick with one UDF per cell.
    ‘ Shapes are always linked to the cell using their name (it will be the cell address)

    ‘ Parameters
    ‘ Target: Range that gets the picture, usually not the cell this UDF is used in!
    ‘ RefreshShape: set to true to delete and add the shape, set to false to only update shape
    ‘ PicType set to 0 to delete any shape. Currently only supports autoshapes, but can be
    ‘ extended to almost any picture type
    ‘ PicIndex: An Icon Index to select the autoshape type
    ‘ Color: Only backColor can now be set, but you could extend this to more shape properties.
    ‘ Can be an index or an RGB value
    ‘ IconHeight/IconWidth: IconHeight and IconWidth are set as a percentage of the cell width/height, 1 being 100%
    ‘ Setting Width to 0 will fix it to the height and vice versa
    ‘ Margin: Margin can be used to create a margin between cell border and shape
    ‘ Origin: The Origin will fix the shape relative to the cell: use numbers 1 to 4 counter clockwise
    ‘ for fixing the shape to any of the corners of the cell. Use 5 to center the shape and 0
    ‘ to allow free placement across the sheet.

    ‘ Worksheet Usage:
    ‘ A1=RAND()*100
    ‘ A2=RAND()*200
    ‘ A3=IConditionalFormat(A2,FALSE,1,A1,IF(A2 0 Then
    ‘ calculate icon width/height
    If IconHeight 0 Then IconHeight = IconHeight * (Target.Height – Margin * 2)
    If IconWidth 0 Then IconWidth = IconWidth * (Target.Width – Margin * 2)

    If IconHeight = 0 Then IconHeight = IconWidth
    If IconWidth = 0 Then IconWidth = IconHeight

    ‘ set origin of the shape
    Select Case Origin
    Case 1
    sngTop = Margin + Target.Top
    sngLeft = Margin + Target.Left
    Case 2
    sngTop = Target.Top + Target.Height – IconHeight – Margin
    sngLeft = Margin + Target.Left
    Case 3
    sngLeft = Target.Left + Target.Width – IconWidth – Margin
    sngTop = Margin + Target.Top
    Case 4
    sngTop = Target.Top + Target.Height – IconHeight – Margin
    sngLeft = Target.Left + Target.Width – IconWidth – Margin
    Case 5
    sngTop = Target.Top + (Target.Height / 2#) – (IconHeight / 2#)
    sngLeft = Target.Left + (Target.Width / 2#) – (IconWidth / 2#)
    Case 0
    If shp Is Nothing Then
    sngTop = Margin + Target.Top
    sngLeft = Margin + Target.Left
    Else
    sngTop = shp.Top
    sngLeft = shp.Left
    End If
    Case Else
    sngTop = Margin + Target.Top
    sngLeft = Margin + Target.Left
    End Select

    If shp Is Nothing Then
    Set shp = Target.Worksheet.Shapes.AddShape(PicIndex, sngLeft, sngTop, IconHeight, IconWidth)
    Else
    shp.AutoShapeType = PicIndex
    End If

    With shp
    If Color > 0 Then
    .Fill.ForeColor.RGB = Color
    ElseIf Color IconWidth Then .Width = IconWidth
    If .Height IconHeight Then .Height = IconHeight
    If .Top sngTop Then .Top = sngTop
    If .Left sngLeft Then .Left = sngLeft
    .Name = Target.Address
    .AlternativeText = Target.Text
    End With
    Else
    shp.Delete
    End If

    IConditionalFormat = PicIndex
    End Function

  21. It seems my code has been bitten by the blogbug;)
    To prevent being accused of ‘splogging’ with my own code; anyone who wants a working copy, just drop me a mail

  22. Sige (offline) writes…
    “I was trying to Add an Average line over the Points.”

    Can do…
    The previous BarChart also had an issue when all points where negative. This one is a little more robust for that.

    Function BarChart(Points As Range, Color As Long) As String
        Const cMargin = 2, cGap = 1
        Dim rng As Range, arr() As Variant, i As Long, j As Long, sng As Single, sngIntv As Single
        Dim sngLeft As Single, sngTop As Single, sngWidth As Single, sngHeight As Single
        Dim sngMin As Single, sngMax As Single, shp As Shape

        Set rng = Application.Caller

        ShapeDelete rng

        sngMin = WorksheetFunction.Min(Points)
        sngMax = WorksheetFunction.Max(Points)
        If sngMin > 0 Then sngMin = 0
        If sngMax < 0 Then sngMax = 0

        With rng.Worksheet.Shapes

            For i = 0 To Points.Count – 1
                sng = Points(, i + 1)
                sngIntv = (rng.Height – (cMargin * 2)) / (sngMax – sngMin)
                sngLeft = cMargin + cGap + rng.Left + (i * (rng.Width – (cMargin * 2)) / Points.Count)
                sngTop = cMargin + rng.Top + IIf(sng < 0, sngMax, sngMax – sng) * sngIntv
                sngWidth = (rng.Width – (cMargin * 2)) / Points.Count – (cGap * 2)
                sngHeight = Abs(sng) * sngIntv
                Set shp = .AddShape(msoShapeRectangle, sngLeft, sngTop, sngWidth, sngHeight)

                On Error Resume Next
                j = 0: j = UBound(arr) + 1
                On Error GoTo 0
                ReDim Preserve arr(j)
                arr(j) = shp.Name
            Next

            sng = (rng.Width – (cMargin * 2)) / Points.Count / 2
            sngTop = cMargin + rng.Top + (sngMax – WorksheetFunction.Average(Points)) * sngIntv
            Set shp = .AddLine(cMargin + rng.Left + sng, sngTop, rng.Left + rng.Width – cMargin – sng, sngTop)
            shp.Line.Weight = 2
            On Error Resume Next
            j = 0: j = UBound(arr) + 1
            On Error GoTo 0
            ReDim Preserve arr(j)
            arr(j) = shp.Name

            With rng.Worksheet.Shapes.Range(arr)
                .Group

                If Color > 0 Then .Fill.ForeColor.RGB = Color Else .Fill.ForeColor.SchemeColor = -Color
            End With

        End With

        BarChart = “”
    End Function

  23. Rob,

    Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us.
    I think it is absolutely marvellous, and I can see some wonderful application for this in another project I am working on right now.

    I read these blogs religously, but for some reason never find the time to write.
    For this, I just HAD to.

    Best Wishes

    Roger

  24. This is great stuff!

    But I must be missing something in the details: I deleted in the original LineChart the following lines of code:
    On Error Resume Next
    j = 0: j = UBound(arr) + 1
    On Error GoTo 0
    ReDim Preserve arr(j)
    and replaced them with:
    ReDim arr(Points.Count – 2)
    This line of code is moved outside the For loop and precedes the line
    With rng.Worksheet.Shapes

    As far as I can observe the function producess the same output. Is there some specific reason for using the On Error / Redim Preserve statements?

    PS: With rng.Worksheet.Shapes.Range(arr) (embracing .Group) can be simplified to With .Range(arr)

  25. Hi Rob,

    Brilliant! Simply Brilliant!

    When all cells have the same number, the line function produces an error (#VALUE!)
    Zolá

  26. RobertV: That section of code is mostly redundant. It’s just some code for making an array of Shape Names, which is used to make a ShapeRange, supplied to the .Group method.
    Basically, just groups many shapes into one shape.

    Good spotting for the With. You’re absolutely right – it can be simplified.

    If you’ve ever been tracking my posts / code, you’ll notice I often make (what I call) longcuts… opposite of shortcuts.

  27. I know there must be something blatantly obvious I am missing here, but why doesn’t the code work for a verticle list of numbers? You get a chart that looks something like (hoe this works)

    *
    *
    *
    *
    ***********************

    of course the asterisks representing line for line chart

    |
    |
    |
    | _ _ _ _

    and representing the barchart results.

  28. The AddLine statement that draws the line segment was specific to Row oriented data. Following function LineChartMod supports both Line and Column oriented data. It also includes Andy Pope’s modification for Min/Max search and draws a line if at least two data points are provided. (original code needs at least three!)
    ShpDelete is not modified.

    Public Function LineChartMod(Points As Range, Color As Long) As String

    ‘The useable cell area is reduced on all sides by this margin (expressed in points)
    Const cMargin = 2

    Dim rng As Range, arr() As Variant, i As Long
    Dim dblMin As Double, dblMax As Double, shp As Shape
    Dim dblYLeftAdjust As Double, dblYRightAdjust As Double

    ‘What is the address of the cell taht called this function?
    Set rng = Application.Caller

    ‘If there was already a shape covering this range, then delete it
    ShapeDelete rng

    ‘Get Max and Min values of data points, if they are the same then
    ‘ readjust (for drawing scale purposes)
    dblMin = WorksheetFunction.Min(Points)
    dblMax = WorksheetFunction.Max(Points)
    If dblMin = dblMax Then
    dblMin = dblMin – 1
    dblMax = dblMax + 1
    End If

    ‘arr is an array that will hold a reference to the line segments
    ‘ There are as many segments as there are data points minus one
    ‘ (but the array is zero based – hence the -2).
    Select Case Points.Count
    Case 0, 1
    ‘do nothing – a line needs at least two points
    GoTo PROC_EXIT
    Case Else
    ReDim arr(Points.Count – 2)
    End Select

    ‘Draw the individual line segments and add their reference to the array
    With rng.Worksheet.Shapes

    For i = 0 To Points.Count – 2
    If Points.Rows.Count = 1 Then ‘Row based data
    dblYLeftAdjust = Points(1, i + 1)
    dblYRightAdjust = Points(1, i + 2)
    ElseIf Points.Columns.Count = 1 Then ‘Column based data
    dblYLeftAdjust = Points(i + 1, 1)
    dblYRightAdjust = Points(i + 2, 1)
    End If

    Set shp = .AddLine( _
    cMargin + rng.Left + (i * (rng.Width – (cMargin * 2)) / (Points.Count – 1)), _
    cMargin + rng.Top + (dblMax – dblYLeftAdjust) * (rng.Height – (cMargin * 2)) / (dblMax – dblMin), _
    cMargin + rng.Left + ((i + 1) * (rng.Width – (cMargin * 2)) / (Points.Count – 1)), _
    cMargin + rng.Top + (dblMax – dblYRightAdjust) * (rng.Height – (cMargin * 2)) / (dblMax – dblMin))

    arr(i) = shp.Name

    Next

    With .Range(arr)
    ‘Is a ShapeRange object that contains the collection of line segments
    ‘ which must be grouped together
    Select Case .Count
    Case 0, 1
    ‘do nothing – if there are no or only one line segment, you can’t group
    Case Else
    .Group
    End Select

    If Color > 0 Then .Line.ForeColor.RGB = Color Else .Line.ForeColor.SchemeColor = -Color

    End With

    End With

    PROC_EXIT:
    LineChartMod = vbNullString

    End Function

  29. Rob,
    Followed the post comments about half-way through – this is cool!
    Found something, though:
    Once the chart is created, it can be physically moved, but then becomes “disconnected” from the data (I guess because of the mechanism used to create then delete before re-creating)

    Would there be a means to connect the graph shape to the originating cell function permanently?

    (BTW, this works nicely when you select a range of cells and enter the LineChart or BarChart function as an array formula. I know the idea was to be “in-cell”, but “in-cells” works too.)

    Also, double-click on the line or bars brings up teh “Format Object Dialog – Any way to preserve setting from this?

  30. Thanks, Jon.
    I was monitoring that thread, but had not quite understood your intent. Perhaps using named ranges for the cell and its associated chart?

  31. Alex –

    I was simply naming the shape that consisted of the group of lines that made up the chart. Normally it would have a name like “Group 12? but I’m giving it a more descriptive name, like “InCell_A1_Line”, where A1 is the cell hosting the formula. Instead of killing the shape covering A1, I’m killing the shape with “_A1_” in its name.

    Perhaps you’ve stumbled on a way to get around inserted/deleted rows/columns. When the code runs, give the cell a name (or use its name if one’s already defined), something like “CellChartFormula001?. Then name the shape “CellChartFormula001_Chart”. Then the cell’s address doesn’t matter, just the cell’s name.

    This isn’t bad, I should write it down. I won’t get to it today, because I’ve had two frantic clients who needed last minute enhancements for today. I shouldn’t even be reading this blog.

  32. First of all, I have to express my appreciation of what you’ve created here! What a wonderfully simple idea.

    And I have a few questions about these sparklines…I’ve been using the code posted by RobertV on February 12th, 2006 at 7:56 am, the function “LineChartMod”.

    1. I’ve been using the sparklines in some spreadsheets to create a dashboard. I have entered the following in several cells:
    =LineChartMod(MyRange1,0)
    =LineChartMod(MyRange2,0)
    … etc
    In my code, I update the range names to look at new data. However, this seems to cause a problem, for when I look back at my sheet, there are #Value! errors in the cells, and the lines have not changed.

    If I go through these cells and use the F2+Enter trick, they all evaluate fine. Is there a way to force this event on the cells?

    2. As a workround to the above problem, I tried entering the strings “=LineChartMod(MyRange1,0)” in the relevant cells from my code, in the hope of forcing evaluation. However, this did not work. It seems that Excel does not evaluate the UDF whilst exectuing my code. Is this normal? Can I do anything about it?

    3. I was also trying to extend the funtionality of this UDF by including an additional line (e.g. a line to represent target sales) and be able to have a different colour for this line. I failed miserably to get this to work! Has anyone else had any success?

  33. Here’s an outstanding rendition of sparklines by Excel MVP Fernando Cinquegrani:

    http://www.prodomosua.eu/zips/sparklines.xls

    He draws a normal-sized and normal-featured Excel chart in a far away region of the sheet, copies the underlying range, and uses Paste Link Picture to put a dynamic shrunken image of the chart over the desired cell.

    It will fail in 2007 because doing a print preview of a paste linked region that shows a chart hoses the chart. But in versions up to 2003, it is an excellent native sparklines tool. The rest of us can stop now.

    Fernando has come up with dozens of innovative display implementations for Excel:

    http://www.prodomosua.eu/ppage02.html

  34. This is some really cool stuff that people have done here. I love it!

    I have taken the liberty of changing the LineChart function, using a bit of the BarChart function to show a percentile range behind the sparkline. The lower and upper boundaries are passed as parameters to the function. The colour of the percentile range is hard-coded to pale grey, but this could be parameterised if required.

    Hope some people may find it useful…

  35. Great stuff here!

    Boxplot anyone?
    Function BoxPlotChart(Maximum As Double, Minimum As Double, Perc25 As Double, Perc50 As Double, Perc75 As Double, EndScale As Double, Optional AcceptableStart As Double = 0, Optional AcceptableEnd As Double = 0, Optional Mean As Double = 0) As String
    Const Margin = 0.5
    Const Thick = 1.5
    Dim rng As Range
    Dim arr() As Variant
    Dim sng As Single
    Dim HBckgrnd As Single
    Dim TopBkgrd As Single

    Dim StartMin As Single, EndMin As Single
    Dim StartMax As Single, EndMax As Single
    Dim StartPerc25 As Single, EndPerc25 As Single
    Dim StartPerc50 As Single, EndPerc50 As Single
    Dim StartPerc75 As Single, EndPerc75 As Single
    Dim StartAcceptable As Single, EndAcceptable As Single
    Dim StartMean As Single, EndMean As Single
    Dim StartMinWhisker, EndMinWhisker
    Dim StartMaxWhisker, EndMaxWhisker As Single
    Dim TopBox As Single, HeightBox As Single
    Dim TopWhiskerLine As Single, HeightWhiskerLine As Single

    Dim ShpMinWhiskerEnd As Shape, ShpMinWhiskerLine As Shape
    Dim ShpPerc25Box As Shape, ShpPerc50Marker As Shape, ShpPerc75Box As Shape
    Dim ShpMaxWhiskerEnd As Shape, ShpMaxWhiskerLine As Shape
    Dim ShpAcceptableBar As Shape, ShpMeanMarker As Shape

    Dim WidthCell As Single

    Set rng = Application.Caller
    ShapeDelete rng

    With rng.Worksheet.Shapes
    WidthCell = rng.MergeArea.Width
    HBckgrnd = (rng.Height – (Margin * 2))
    TopBkgrd = rng.Top + (Margin * 2)

    TopBox = rng.Top + Margin + rng.Height * 0.17
    HeightBox = (rng.Height * 0.66 – Margin * 2)

    TopWhiskerLine = rng.Top + Margin + rng.Height * 0.45
    HeightWhiskerLine = (rng.Height * 0.15 – Margin * 2)

    StartMin = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Minimum / EndScale))
    EndMin = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Minimum / EndScale)) + Thick – StartMin

    StartMinWhisker = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Minimum / EndScale)) + Thick
    EndMinWhisker = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Perc25 / EndScale)) – StartMinWhisker

    StartPerc25 = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Perc25 / EndScale))
    EndPerc25 = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Perc50 / EndScale)) – StartPerc25

    StartPerc50 = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Perc50 / EndScale))
    EndPerc50 = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Perc50 / EndScale)) + Thick – StartPerc50

    StartPerc75 = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Perc50 / EndScale)) + Thick
    EndPerc75 = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Perc75 / EndScale)) – StartPerc75

    StartMax = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Maximum / EndScale))
    EndMax = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Maximum / EndScale)) + Thick – StartMax

    StartMaxWhisker = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Perc75 / EndScale))
    EndMaxWhisker = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Maximum / EndScale)) – StartMaxWhisker

    StartAcceptable = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (AcceptableStart / EndScale))
    EndAcceptable = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (AcceptableEnd / EndScale)) – StartAcceptable

    StartMean = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Mean / EndScale))
    EndMean = Margin + rng.Left + (WidthCell * (Mean / EndScale)) + Thick – StartMean

    ReDim arr(1 To 9)

    Set ShpAcceptableBar = .AddShape(msoShapeRectangle, StartAcceptable, TopBkgrd, EndAcceptable, HBckgrnd)
    ShpAcceptableBar.Line.Visible = msoFalse
    If (AcceptableEnd – AcceptableStart

  36. Hello,
    these functions are very usefull. I’m very interesting to have them but some of them are not written correctly in this blog. Is there another way to catch these function ? (boxplotchart,IConditionalFormat,barchart,…)
    Thanks in advance

    PS : Sorry for my poor english :)

  37. I have an add-in whose primary purpose is to pull financial data from the Internet, so I thought some of these in-cell charting techniques would be a nice option to have. But I wanted all of the capabilities in a single function, plus I wanted to add the ability to generate a trend line (the WindDirectionChart gave me that idea). Here’s what I have so far:

  38. Below is my current version. I did notice that the prior posting had a few HTML entity substitutions (ampersand, greater than, etc) from the comment editor. One big change was to allow an array to be passed into it instead of just range objects.

  39. Hi guys,

    Trying really hard to use the code on this page but it seems to have some (I gues HTML induced) flaws here and there. Would anyone of you consider to put it into a downbloadable xls file for us mortals?? Would be really appraciated!

  40. Marcel: Which code in particular. I was able to copy the code from the main post without error. Code in the comments still has a few bugs, namely greater than, less than, and ampersand. I couldn’t get Randy’s code to compile even after fixing those.

  41. Marcel and others might like to visit http://newtonexcelbach.wordpress.com/ where you can download a worksheet using UDF charting to plot shapes from a list of coordinates.

    This is a real working application, and it’s very useful, but take note of the comments above; I wouldn’t recommend embedding this code in a large critical application.

  42. Randy,

    the “bar drawing” section of your code is jammed, at the line beginning w/ : “sngTop = cMargin…”

    It would be great if you could repost it.

    Thanks for this already

    Fabrice

  43. Has anyone successfully implemented any of these ideas without excel crashing? I am really impressed with the expertise here. I have been trying unsuccessfully to implement an in cell Barchart for about 2 days now. The underlying data changes when a selection is made from a drop down box on a dashboard. The graph draws fine, however, I think there may be something wrong with the ShapeDelete code. When a drop down box selection is made, excel crashes without fail.

    I am using the code posted by Rob for BarCharts. I have also tried all the others without any success – I get error messages like “Name” or “Value”

    I’d love to hear from anyone who has successfully done the BarChart. Thanks for this resource. Very cool.

    Victor

  44. Fabrice,

    Thanks for the link. The VBA code works fine. However, I am experiencing the same problem as before – as soon as the underlying data for the chart changes, excel crashes. The data points for the graph is generated by a user selecting a month value from a drop down box on a dashboard. So the values change everytime someone uses the toggle.

    I am using excel 2007 with a form control drop down box on a dashboard. Can you think of anything thatmight cause the crashes I am experiencing ? Thanks

    Victor

  45. Here is an example workbook, where the mechanism for drawing the charts is slightly different.
    Instead of drawing the charts from the UDF, it queues the drawing and lets the OnCalculate event do the work.
    This may reduce or eliminate the frequency of crashes.
    I’m on Excel 2003, so how it works on Excel 2007 is a mystery to me.

    Download here: InCellCharting.xls

    Beware, the DrawCharts subroutine really needs some error handling.
    And note how the Wind Charts update when pressing F9, but the LineCharts/BarCharts do not. This is due to the UDF asking for a Double vs Range.
    You can get around that by doing something like =LineChart(A1:J1, 203) & LEFT(A1, 0)

    Hope that helps.
    Rob

  46. Rob,

    >And note how the Wind Charts update when pressing F9, but the LineCharts/BarCharts do not.
    >This is due to the UDF asking for a Double vs Range.

    Looks like a nasty bug to me, but I am not sure that Double versus Range is the right diagnosis.
    I think Excel does not seem to recognise a parameter dependency when the only reference to a UDF parameter is via a SET statement.

    If you add
    Dim v as variant
    v=Points
    then it works fine

  47. Charles, Rob,

    Thanks to your previous comments I tested a set of Sparklines UDF.
    The functions are way more stable, but I am now struggling with the error handling and exceptions part (empty cells or na() values in the serie to display)

    You can have a look at the file here : http://sparklines-excel.blogspot.com/

    Any suggestions are welcome

    Thanks

    Fabrice

  48. Hi there, this is great. I downloaded the InCellCharting.xls and being using. When I copied the code to another existing spreadsheet. The function errors on the folowing section;

    Public Function LineChart(Points As Range, Color As Long) As String
    Dim cht As LineChartClass

    Set cht = New LineChartClass
    Set cht.Destination = Application.Caller
    Set cht.Points = Points
    cht.Color = Color

    colQueue.Add cht
    LineChart = “”
    End Function

    In particular on Set cht.Points = Points – in the object browser it does not have Points as a method for LineChartClass.

    If I load the InCellCharting.xls it works fine.

    Any help ? Thanks

  49. Yes – all 4 pieces of code copied into the workbook.

    When I open it I get a compile error

    MS VB
    Compile Error
    Method or data Member not Found on chtLine.DrawLineChart in the next section in drawcharts()

    If TypeOf obj Is LineChartClass Then
    Set chtLine = obj
    chtLine.DrawLineChart

    The only other change (don’t you love that) is to adjust the max if max = min

    ‘ Max cannot = Min so increment max by 1/100th
    If Min = Max Then
    Max = Max + (Max * 0.01)
    End If

    Cheers

  50. Jon, that’s usually how the world works. Its all working well but I have two questions;

    1) I have a huge spreadsheet – its 11 meg and hundreds, perhaps 1,000’s of formulas, I have 20 sparkline graphs and it takes over 30 minutes to recalc – uses 50% of CPU for 30 mins. I turn autocalc off and when ready then turn it on or F9 etc. Any hints for making it faster ? If I strip all the relevant data out to a new sheet its very fast – but I need it all together. I use the formula format

    =LineChart(A1:J1, 203) & LEFT(A1, 0) that forces an update.

    2) The Sparkline graph covers a moving set of columns, for example my data is in columns B thru J for but J is a terminating column with no data. I can position on col J and every day insert a new column, put in a value and the graph updates as the range is expanded. All good but I really don’t want to graph Column J – if J is empty then the graph to zero, if we set J to whats in Column I then its not quiet true.

    Any thoughts ?

    Gary

  51. 1. Is it the sparklines which cause the slow performance, or just the 1000’s of formulas?

    2. Don’t include column J in the call to the sparkline function:

    =LineChart(A1:I1, 203)

  52. Performance is slowed by Sparklines for sure – it was always a few seconds – let me test – yep almost immeadiate. There are over 30 sheets. Each time I add a sparkline performance slows arithmetically.

    I’ve just downloaded excellent set of UDF’s from http://sparklines-excel.blogspot.com/ and will give that a go. My guess is collecting and deleting all the shape objects.

    For item 2, if I’m charting stock prices daily and I have the data;

    a b c
    15.00 16.00 17.00 in a thru c

    I define a graph on the range a1:c1

    then on day 4 I add 18.00 in D1, then I need to redefine the graph to be a1:d1

    Whereas if I have the data

    a b c d
    15.00 16.00 17.00 0 or blank in a thru d

    I define a graph on the range a1:d1

    then on day 4 I insert a column between c & d – new column is d, add 18.00 in D1, then as I inserted a column the graph strectches the range and I don’t need to redefine the graph as it is now a1:e1

    Trouble is e1 is 0 or blank and the graph dives down to zero.

    Must be an easy answer to this – I’m just missing it.

    There is an option in Tools / Options / Chart – Active Chart: Plot empty Cells As – Not plotted / leave gaps – but I can’t select it. If I create a new graph I can select it.

    Man you are good – you can’t select it for Area Charts – line and bar is fine – a global option though.

    I’ll live – good to chat :-)

  53. Look what Microsoft patented this week:

    SPARKLINES IN THE GRID – Patent Application 20090282325

    Look familiar? Sparklines in the Excel grid. Excel 2010 has finally caught up with prior art that’s been available for five years or more. The patent describes in its claims the sparklines generated in Excel by at least three commercially or freely available products:

    BonaVista MicroCharts
    Bissantz SparkMaker
    Fabrice Rimlinger’s Sparklines For Excel

    Fabrice’s work is based on techniques like those discussed in this post and its comments. Here is fabrice’s announcement:

    Sparklines for Excel: United States Patent Application 20090282325
    http://sparklines-excel.blogspot.com/2009/11/united-states-patent-application.html

    The US Patent System is broken. The examiners are overworked and unfamiliar with their technology areas, and huge companies benefit at the expense of innovative individuals and small companies who don’t have multimillion dollar legal budgets.

  54. This is cool. I had been trying to get this for quite some time now. Amazing. Both the line chart and bar chart work awesome. Thanks for this.

  55. This is a great way to eaqsily generate graphs in excel.Thanks a lot for this function.Will help me and a lot of people using excel.Great work.You are a genious.

  56. Thank you so much! This is just amazing!!! I’m comparing over 150 data series and this allows me to visually verify the calculated groupings.

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