Google Charts

Have you guys seen Google Charts? It’s a quirky little API I didn’t know existed until I saw a passing allusion to it. Essentially, you pass it a specially-crafted URL (essentially the definition of an API) and it will generate a PNG image.

Here’s a fairly random line graph. My labeling of the axes makes no sense, but it was nonsensical data anyway.

One of the cooler things they support is a “map” type of chart, like this US map. The URL is a bit tricky, though this one of South America is easier to understand: chco (presumably “CHart COlor”) sets the colors, with the first being the ‘default’ color. chld lists the countries, as they should map up to the colors: UYVECO is “Uruguay,” “Venezuela,” and “Colombia.”

What has me particularly interested is that I’ve recently installed code to watch connections to my NTP servers. Here’s my Texas box, a stratum 2 server in the NTP pool ( I bumped it up to list a 10 Mbps connection speed to signal that I could handle a lot more queries than the average, although it’s still nowhere near its limit. In addition to the stats you see there, it keeps a “dump file” of every single connection. (As an aside, this strikes me as inefficient and I want to write an SQL interface to keep aggregate stats… But that’s very low-priority right now.)

Further, I have some IPGeo code I played with. More than meets the eye, actually: a separate database can give a city/state in addition to the country. (It comes from the free MaxMind GeoLite City database.) Thus I could, in theory, parse the log file created, match each IP to a state, and plot that on a US map.

This reminds me that I never posted… I set up NTP on the second server Andrew and I got, where we’re intending to consolidate everything, but haven’t had time yet. It sat unused for a while, keeping exceptionally good time. So, with Andrew’s approval, I submitted it to the NTP pool. I set the bandwidth to 3 Mbps, lower than the 10 Mbps my Texas box is at.

I was somewhat surprised to see it handling significantly more NTP queries. (They’re not online, since the box isn’t running a webserver, but for those in-the-know, ~/ntp/ntp_clients_stats | less produces the same type of output seen here.) It turns out that a flaw in the IPGeo code assigning the server to the right ‘zones’ for some reason thought our server was in Brazil. Strangely, while the United States has 550 (at last count) servers in the pool, South America has 16. Thus I got a much greater share of the traffic. It’s still low: at its peak it looks like me might use 2GB of bandwidth.

So there are a few graphs I think would be interesting:

  • A line graph of the number of clients served over time. Using Google Charts would save me from having to deal with RRDTool / MRTG.
  • A map of South American countries, colored to show which of the countries are querying the server most frequently. (The same could be done for my US server, on a state-by-state basis.)

2 thoughts on “Google Charts

  1. Pingback: Matt’s Blog » Long-distance NTP

  2. I just started playing with this API a little while ago. The maps are awesome, and something not supported by other graphing libraries I’ve used in the past.

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