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JFreeChart graphs and gauges

Posted By Yair Altman On January 17, 2011 | 32 Comments

The other day I wanted to present a graphic presentation of Matlab’s position in the computer programming world. Naturally, my first attempt, being an addict of infographics (IG), was to search for an IG about computer programs. One of my favorite IG sites is CoolInfographics [1]. Unfortunately, it’s not technology-oriented. I am not aware of technology-related IG sites, although Online Schools [2] has a technology section with some cool IGs (including one about the evolution of computer programming [3] that I found interesting). Unfortunately again, none of the IGs I found online discuss Matlab.
So I resorted to preparing my own graphic presentation. I wanted the graphics to appear special – not an ordinary Matlab or Excel charts. For the fun of it, I wanted to prepare this report in Matlab (call me a Matlab addict if you will…).
Luckily, Java has some extremely cool open-source charting and reporting tools, that can easily be integrated in Matlab.


An extremely powerful and widely-used Java-based charting library is JFreeChart [4], which includes classes for displaying charts, graphs and gauges in Java panels. JFreeChart solves Matlab’s limitation that plot axes cannot be added to Java containers. JFreeChart is free open-source. Used by over 40,000 Java developers worldwide (as well as some Matlab developers [5]), it is in constant development and improvement.
Let us now integrate a JFreeChart pie-chart within a Matlab figure, as a means of illustrating how to integrate third-party Swing-derived components into Matlab.
First, download [6] the latest JFreeChart version. Next, unzip the downloaded file into some new folder. Now, edit classpath.txt (or use javaaddpath) to load jfreechart-1.0.13.jar and jcommon-1.0.16.jar (which are located in the /lib/ sub-folder) to Matlab’s Java classpath (replace the version numbers as appropriate):

javaaddpath C:/Yair/Utils/JFreeChart/lib/jcommon-1.0.16.jar
javaaddpath C:/Yair/Utils/JFreeChart/lib/jfreechart-1.0.13.jar

Within the Matlab code, load the data into an object that implements the org.jfree.data.Dataset interface. There are separate such objects for each specific chart type. For example, in order to display a pie-chart we would use org.jfree.data.general.DefaultPieDataset:

% Prepare a data-set with some unrealistic numbers...
dataset = org.jfree.data.general.DefaultPieDataset;
dataset.setValue(java.lang.String('C'),       4);
dataset.setValue(java.lang.String('C++'),     7);
dataset.setValue(java.lang.String('Matlab'), 52);
dataset.setValue(java.lang.String('Java'),   23);
dataset.setValue(java.lang.String('Other'),  14);
% Now prepare an org.jfree.chart.JFreeChart object
% Arguments = title string, data set, display legend flag, display tooltips flag, generate URLs flag
chart3D = org.jfree.chart.ChartFactory.createPieChart3D('Programming languages', dataset, true, true, false);
% Update some chart properties
plot3D = chart3D.getPlot;	% an org.jfree.chart.plot.PiePlot3D obj
plot3D.setForegroundAlpha(0.7);	% set transparency level
% Finally, place the chart in a Swing-compliant panel and display using javacomponent
jPanel = org.jfree.chart.ChartPanel(chart3D);
[jp,hp] = javacomponent(jPanel,[20,20,300,300],gcf);

JFreeChart 3D pie chart
JFreeChart 3D pie chart

…and similarly for a 2D exploding pie-chart (no need to recreate the panel – simply point it to the new chart using jPanel.setChart and the entire figure is automatically redrawn):

chart2D = org.jfree.chart.ChartFactory.createPieChart('Programming languages', dataset, true, true, false);
plot2D = chart2D.getPlot;  % an org.jfree.chart.plot.PiePlot obj
plot2D.setExplodePercent(0,0.6);  % 1st value, 60% outward
plot2D.setExplodePercent(3,0.30); % 4th value, 30% outward

JFreeChart 2D pie chart
JFreeChart 2D pie chart

JFreeChart has some limitations compared to Matlab plots, but it can do things that are extremely difficult to achieve in Matlab, as shown in the following screenshots:
JFreeChart Gantt Charts

JFreeChart Dial Gauges

JFreeChart Custom Gauges

JFreeChart Ring Charts

Few of the many JFreeChart charts and gauges

Just in case you were wondering – these charts and gauges can easily be made interactive and animated. Adding them within a Matlab figure panel provides a wonderful GUI interaction experience.
Bottom line: I started out looking for a simple infographic for work, and ended up wasting hours playing around with JFreeeChart… Another day’s work down the drain. 🙂
Have you used JFreeChart (or any other 3rd-party charting library) in your code? If you have (or if you find some interesting Matlab-related infographic), please tell us about it in a comment [7].

Categories: GUI, Java, Low risk of breaking in future versions

32 Comments (Open | Close)

32 Comments To "JFreeChart graphs and gauges"

#1 Comment By Scott Koch On January 17, 2011 @ 16:27

Hi Yair, interesting post.

I’ve played with jgraph ( [14]). It’s more of a graphing (flow diagram) tool originally meant to extend jtree. I thought it might be useful in creating a simple “visual programing” interface akin to Simulink. It works almost as advertised except for dragging vertices around. For some reason, no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get that behavior enabled when using Matlab (it works fine in pure java). Maybe it has something to do with DnD but it still eludes me.

Anyhow, for anyone interested, here’s some code:

%Make the graph object.
graph = com.mxgraph.view.mxGraph;
%Get the parent cell.
parent = graph.getDefaultParent();
%Group update.
%Add some child cells.
v1 = graph.insertVertex(parent, '', 'Hello', 240, 150, 80,30);
v2 = graph.insertVertex(parent, '', 'World', 20, 20,80, 30);
graph.insertEdge(parent, '', 'Edge', v1, v2);
%Get scrollpane.
graphComponent = com.mxgraph.swing.mxGraphComponent(graph);
%Make a figure and stick the component on it.
f = figure('units','pixels');
pos = get(f,'position'); 
mypanel = javax.swing.JPanel(java.awt.BorderLayout);
[obj, hcontainer] = javacomponent(mypanel, [0,0,pos(3:4)], f);

#2 Comment By Sven Körner On January 21, 2011 @ 07:55

Hi Yair, this is the best blog ever! (Second is [15])

Before I read this post I didn’ t use any other graphic component. But now I’ll use JFreeChart and its capabilities for cool charting. I’m deeply impressed of the “easy” way how multiple axis charts can be produced and designed by JFreeChart.

Here is some code, oriented to the original demo of JFreeChart.
Possible result can be seen here: [16]

function multiple_axis_demo
% TimeSeriesDemo alá JFreeGraph-Demo
% see best blog ever for more information: https://undocumentedmatlab.com/blog/jfreechart-graphs-and-gauges/
% need to download and install first: JFreeChart 1.0.13 and JFreeCommon 1.0.16
% (http://www.jfree.org/jfreechart/download.html)

%% settings:
% change path to your local JFreeChart-Insatllation first
javaaddpath C:/Users/sk/Documents/MATLAB/jfreechart-1.0.13/lib/jcommon-1.0.16.jar
javaaddpath C:/Users/sk/Documents/MATLAB/jfreechart-1.0.13/lib/jfreechart-1.0.13.jar

%% Start
dataset1 = createDataset('1. TSeries', 100, org.jfree.data.time.Minute, 200 );

% generate chart and edit chart settings
chart = org.jfree.chart.ChartFactory.createTimeSeriesChart('Multiple Axis Demo 1', 'Time of Day', 'Primary Range Axis', dataset1, true, true, false);
background_color = chart.getBackgroundPaint;

% plot object of chart editing
plot_obj = chart.getXYPlot();
%axis_spacer = plot_obj.getAxisOffset;
Standard_renderer = org.jfree.chart.renderer.xy.XYLineAndShapeRenderer(true, false);
Standard_renderer.setSeriesPaint(0, background_color.black);
renderer          = plot_obj.getRenderer;
% renderer          = plot_obj.getRenderer;
%plot_obj.setRenderer(0, Standard_renderer);

%% AXIS 2 
axis2 = org.jfree.chart.axis.NumberAxis('Range Axis 2');
plot_obj.setRangeAxis(1, axis2);
plot_obj.setRangeAxisLocation(1, org.jfree.chart.axis.AxisLocation.BOTTOM_OR_LEFT);
% create new Dataset
dataset2 = createDataset('2. TSeries', 1000, org.jfree.data.time.Minute, 170 );
plot_obj.setDataset(1, dataset2); 
renderer2 = org.jfree.chart.renderer.xy.XYLineAndShapeRenderer(true, false);
renderer2.setSeriesPaint(0, background_color.red);
plot_obj.setRenderer(1, renderer2);

%% AXIS 3 
axis3 = org.jfree.chart.axis.NumberAxis('Range Axis 3');
plot_obj.setRangeAxis(2, axis3);
% create new Dataset
dataset3 = createDataset('3. TSeries', 10000, org.jfree.data.time.Minute, 170 );
plot_obj.setDataset(2, dataset3);
renderer3 = org.jfree.chart.renderer.xy.XYLineAndShapeRenderer(true, false);
renderer3.setSeriesPaint(0, background_color.blue);
plot_obj.setRenderer(2, renderer3);

%% AXIS 4
axis4 = org.jfree.chart.axis.NumberAxis('Range Axis 4');
plot_obj.setRangeAxis(3, axis4);
% create new Dataset
dataset4 = createDataset('4. TSeries', 25, org.jfree.data.time.Minute, 200 );
plot_obj.setDataset(3, dataset4);
renderer4 = org.jfree.chart.renderer.xy.XYLineAndShapeRenderer(true, true);   % Line and Marker
renderer4.setSeriesPaint(0, background_color.green);
plot_obj.setRenderer(3, renderer4);

%% Show graph
jPanel2 = org.jfree.chart.ChartPanel(chart);
[jp,hp] = javacomponent(jPanel2,[20,20,500,500],gcf);

% Function for TimeSeries-Data Generation
function dataset = createDataset(datasetname, value, startperiod, anzahl_werte )
series = org.jfree.data.time.TimeSeries(java.lang.String(datasetname));  % create TimeSeries
for i =0:1:anzahl_werte
    series.add(startperiod, value);
    startperiod = startperiod.next();
    value = value * (1 + (rand(1) - 0.495) / 10.0);

dataset_timeseries = org.jfree.data.time.TimeSeriesCollection(series);   % dataset generation
dataset = dataset_timeseries;

Multi-axis JFreeChart graph

Addendum Feb 14, 2011: The code above was uploaded to the Matlab File Exchange today ( [17]), along with a few other JFreeChart-based plotting utilities ( [18]).

#3 Comment By Sven Körner On January 21, 2011 @ 15:31

Yair also asked for Matlab-related infographics, as well as other 3.rd party used java charting libraries. Because it is a pretty cool feature I’ll show you an interactive html-document produced by Matlab (examples can be found here: [19]).
I use some Java-based stuff for presentations of interactive 3D data produced by Matlab. The software, which allows that is called Javaview ( [20]).
The way it works is, that the 3D-data of the Matlab figure can be exported to the *.stl file format ( [21]). This file can be opened by javaview, then you can edit the graph the way you like and export it as an html-document. An alternative way is to use symbolic math toolbox to generate javaview file (jvd, jvx) and generate from within Matlab the html document.
For further information you may have a look on my MCFE: [18]

#4 Comment By Yair Altman On January 22, 2011 @ 09:23

thanks Sven – interesting indeed 🙂

#5 Comment By Jan Vidar On January 25, 2011 @ 12:18


It would be interesting to see your “graphic presentation of Matlab’s position in the computer programming world” – Matlab at 52 % ? That sounds like a lot?


#6 Comment By Yair Altman On January 25, 2011 @ 13:50

@Jan – the numbers are fake of course. I was just using it to illustrate the point of using JFreeChart.

And before anyone else jumps – yes, I know that Matlab has a built-in pie chart. Again, I was just using it to illustrate JFreeChart. Believe me when I say that it has many features that are not available in regular Matlab graphs.

#7 Comment By toto On March 11, 2011 @ 03:47

hi, thank you for this tutorial. nice tutorial about matlab ..

#8 Pingback By Specialized Matlab plots | Undocumented Matlab On April 11, 2012 @ 10:45

[…] plots that I would like to highlight today is based on the open-source JFreeChart, that I have described here last year. Sven Körner has used this to provide a dozen different customized Matlab plots […]

#9 Comment By Reza On February 9, 2013 @ 10:12

This library is great and amazing….
but I try Sven Körner function, when I put the mouse cursor on line plot for only one plot just data will be display under the cursor, and the others nothing happend…
How can I get data for other line plot by cursor?

Thanks so much…

#10 Comment By Reza On February 11, 2013 @ 11:08

Hi dear Yair
in the Sven posted file in this page I tried to change the time period to my sapmles that belongs to long ago I couldn’t.
in the command lines
series.add(startperiod, value);
startperiod = startperiod.next();
the program takes current system time and plot data.
How can I set my data on the plot according to my sample time that takes in past?

#11 Comment By Yair Altman On February 11, 2013 @ 14:21

@Reza – try leaving Sven a comment on the relevant FEX page, or send him a query using his FEX homepage

#12 Comment By Mathew On August 14, 2013 @ 07:10

Hi Yair,
I bought your book.I should say, its well documented in revealing the hidden powers of MATLAB. I am tried to add Jfreecharts.
But not yet succesful. Can you please help me with yur advise. Attached is the o/p from command window.
Thanks in advance

>> javaaddpath C:\Users\c_mathewj\Desktop\Matlab_java\jfreechart-1.0.15\jfreechart-1.0.15\lib\jcommon-1.0.18
Warning: Invalid file or directory
> In javaclasspath>local_validate_dynamic_path at 276
In javaclasspath>local_javapath at 184
In javaclasspath at 119
In javaaddpath at 69
>> javaaddpath C:\Users\c_mathewj\Desktop\Matlab_java\jfreechart-1.0.15\jfreechart-1.0.15\lib\jfreechart-1.0.15
Warning: Invalid file or directory
> In javaclasspath>local_validate_dynamic_path at 276
In javaclasspath>local_javapath at 184
In javaclasspath at 119
In javaaddpath at 69
>> javaaddpath C:\Users\c_mathewj\Desktop\Matlab_java\jfreechart-1.0.15\jfreechart-1.0.15\lib\

>> dataset = org.jfree.data.general.DefaultPieDataset;
Undefined variable “org” or function “org.jfree.data.general.DefaultPieDataset”.

#13 Comment By Yair Altman On August 14, 2013 @ 07:12

Read the output – It tells you right there and there “Warning: Invalid file or directory”

#14 Comment By Matthew On August 15, 2013 @ 23:34

The warning came when i tried to include the directory with the file name. Please check the last two commands. Still it shows undefined variable org

#15 Comment By Yair Altman On August 16, 2013 @ 00:06

you did not follow the instructions in the article. you need to javaaddpath the jar files directly, not their folder

#16 Comment By Matthew On August 19, 2013 @ 02:26

Hi Yair,
Thanks for the guidance. I am totally new to java on MATLAB. The file extension was missing on the add path command.
It works now.


#17 Pingback By Plotly graphs | Undocumented Matlab On December 4, 2013 @ 18:18

[…] who will describe the integration of Plotly graphs and charts in Matlab. Unlike the open-source JFreeChart and Waterloo plotting libraries that were described here in the past, Plotly is a commercial (not […]

#18 Comment By Chad On March 29, 2015 @ 16:10

Hi Yair,
Thanks for your book and blog on using java with Matlab. I am using the dial gauge from jfreechart, and I’m overlaying multiple gauges in my UI layout to give a more realistic look of an assembled dashboard. However, to do this and make it look good, I need to have full transparency of the background for each chart. This is where I am stuck. Below, I’ve attempted to illustrate the key parts of the code that create these objects and I would expect to assign transparency. From what I’ve read, it seems like folks are able to get this to work for java, so I’m wondering if its a limitation of Matlab’s figure window? I appreciate any help.

% First the dial plot:
plot = DialPlot();
% Then the chart:
chart1 = JFreeChart(plot);
% Then use chartpanel class (IS THIS WHERE TRANSPARENCY GETS LOST?)
cp1 =  ChartPanel(chart1);
% Then adding it to the a figure
fh = figure('position',[850, 300,  600,  600]);
jp = jcontrol(fh, cp1,'Position',[.4/2, .45/2, .6, .6]);

Thanks for any help you may be able to offer.

#19 Comment By Yair Altman On March 30, 2015 @ 00:38

@Chad – Matlab uses an opaque panel for displaying Java components, so even if the component is made transparent, it would still just show the opaque panel beneath it. Perhaps there is a way around this, but I am not aware of it, at least on HG1 (R2014a or earlier), I haven’t tried really hard on HG2 (R2014b onward).

#20 Comment By Chad On March 31, 2015 @ 14:03

@ Yair, I really appreciate the quick response, and your comment about the opaque panel for Java components is valuable to know. For what I’m trying to achieve, I believe the way around this is to create the dial gauge assembly (using dial gauges from JFreeChart) using addLayer() to “stack” objects. It will make the code less modular and somewhat messier, but I think it should do the trick unless there’s something I’m overlooking. Thanks again.

#21 Comment By Gilles On July 13, 2015 @ 00:51

Hi Yair,

First of all, thank you for your fantastic book “Undocumented Secrets of MATLAB – Java programming”. It has really improved my programming skills. I have a problem that I don’t succeed to solve.

I created a program which uses jfreechart. So at the beginning of the program, I load jfreechart-1.0.13.jar and jcommon-1.0.16.jar by using javaaddpath i.e.


The first time I launch MATLAB and my program, everything works well but if I close the GUI and re-launch the program, I get a error message: Undefined variable org or class org.jfree.data.category.DefaultCategoryDataset. I really don’t understand why I get this error when I try to re-launch my program. So, I have to close MATLAB. re-open MATLAB and launch the program. Any suggestions?

By the way, I would to add my MATLAB code to a website. I don’t have the compiler and the (C#, java)-builder. Do you know how we can integrate MATLAB code to a website. If you write a book about how integrate MATLAB code to a website, I will be the first to buy it!

Again, congratulations for your fantastic blog,

Best regards,

#22 Comment By Yair Altman On July 13, 2015 @ 02:36

@Gilles – perhaps your program bypasses the javaaddpath part in its startup if some condition occurs. Use Matlab editor’s integrated debugger to find out what exactly happens.

In general, it might be better to add these 2 JAR files to your static Java classpath (by editing javaclasspath.txt in your startup folder) , rather than to the dynamic path (via javaaddpath).

If you found my book(s) useful, please add positive feedbacks on Amazon for the benefit of others – thanks!
* [22]
* [23]

I plan to write about displaying interactive Matlab GUI in a webpage later this year. Stay tuned!

#23 Comment By Anilkumar Jangir On November 17, 2015 @ 00:50

Can you please provide few sample code for gauge chart.

#24 Comment By Ivan On May 14, 2016 @ 00:17

Hello,thank you it is fantastic! I’m trying to use the dialdemo4 in MATLAB, but I don’t understand why it gives me the error: ‘Undefined function or variable ‘DefaultValueDataset’. or the same thing with Dialplot fo example, but I downloaded all of these and I have in my current folder, I’m new with java so I really don’t know how to solve this problem also if probably it is something easy. Thank you!!

#25 Comment By Yair Altman On May 14, 2016 @ 21:10

@Ivan – you probably forgot the javaaddpath step (read the main article above for details).
If you need dedicated assistance for your specific project, email me for a consulting request.

#26 Comment By Ivan On May 23, 2016 @ 20:17

Thank you for the availability!! Now I have a new problem, Matlab gives me the error:
”The CLASS function must be called from a class constructor.”
And after days of research I didn’t find what does it mean, can you help me??

#27 Comment By Yair Altman On May 24, 2016 @ 10:32

@Ivan – read my reply above. I am not a free public service.

#28 Comment By Ivan On May 26, 2016 @ 21:58

Of course you are right I’m sorry; I’m just doing it for my personal curiosity so it’s not necessary to disturb you anymore, however thank you a lot and congratulations for your blog and your books!!

#29 Comment By Leo On October 19, 2016 @ 18:52

Hi, Yair
I have a question, its possible add multiple subtask in gantt chart?

#30 Comment By Cristian Jecu On July 21, 2017 @ 00:04

Very useful, thank you for sharing. I am using the gauges but only in individual figures within a more complex GUI. I made a workaround to update values that are obtained from varargin of the GUI function (from a Simulink model), not the best optimized one, but got the job done.

What I would really like to obtain is to have several gauges in the main GUI figure (separate tabs). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to upload this to existing GUI axes as the jcontrol command will create new children on the specified target that “must”(?) be a figure.

% New figure
fh = figure('Units','normalized','position',[0.1,0.1,  0.2,  0.4]);

% ChartPanel with JControl
jp = jcontrol(fh, cp1,'Position',[0.01 0.07 0.98 0.88]);

Is it incompatible with axes and works only with figures or am I missing something ?

Thank you in advance for your time

#31 Comment By Yair Altman On July 21, 2017 @ 08:23

@Christian – you cannot place controls in axes, but you can place them inside panels and uitabs, not just figures.

#32 Comment By Cristian Jecu On July 22, 2017 @ 19:25

Thank you for your fast and correct reply. This really motivated me to learn more about java objects and their integration with Matlab. Now I have a beautiful GUI with what I wasn’t able to obtain from Matalb.

Thank you so much again for sharing and for your answer. I am sure that time will prove that I’ll be visiting your sites for other tricks.

Best regards

Article printed from Undocumented Matlab: https://undocumentedmatlab.com

URL to article: https://undocumentedmatlab.com/articles/jfreechart-graphs-and-gauges

URLs in this post:

[1] CoolInfographics: http://www.coolinfographics.com/

[2] Online Schools: http://www.onlineschools.org/

[3] evolution of computer programming: http://www.onlineschools.org/blog/programming/

[4] JFreeChart: http://www.jfree.org

[5] some Matlab developers: https://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/newsreader/search_results?search_string=jfreechart&dur=all

[6] download: http://sourceforge.net/projects/jfreechart/files/

[7] comment: http://undocumentedmatlab.com/blog/jfreechart-graphs-and-gauges/#respond

[8] Plotly graphs : https://undocumentedmatlab.com/articles/plotly-graphs

[9] Plotly graphs in IPython Notebook : https://undocumentedmatlab.com/articles/plotly-graphs-in-ipython-notebook

[10] Pinning annotations to graphs : https://undocumentedmatlab.com/articles/pinning-annotations-to-graphs

[11] Specialized Matlab plots : https://undocumentedmatlab.com/articles/specialized-matlab-plots

[12] Transparent uipanels : https://undocumentedmatlab.com/articles/transparent-uipanels

[13] Customizing Matlab uipanels : https://undocumentedmatlab.com/articles/customizing-matlab-uipanels

[14] : http://www.jgraph.com/jgraph.html

[15] : http://www.advancedmcode.org/

[16] : http://wwwpub.zih.tu-dresden.de/~s9034647/multipleAxis.png

[17] : http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/fileexchange/30405

[18] : http://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/fileexchange/authors/92825

[19] : http://wwwpub.zih.tu-dresden.de/~s9034647/peaksurface.html

[20] : http://www.javaview.de

[21] : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STL_(file_format)

[22] : http://amazon.com/Undocumented-Secrets-MATLAB-Java-Programming-Altman/product-reviews/1439869030/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_summary

[23] : http://amazon.com/Accelerating-MATLAB-Performance-speed-programs/product-reviews/1482211297/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_summary

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