Ruby on Rails tutorial describing how to link an amCharts JavaScript chart to the data in your database

#Ruby on Rails Tutorial - How to create an amCharts graph that pulls data from a database to populate the graph

amCharts is a set of JavaScript/HTML5 charts. This tutorial covers how to pull data from a database to populate a graph or chart.

A big thanks to @chiragsinghal for helping me get this working. Any mistakes in this tutorial are purely my own.

For this tutorial I am using Rails 3.2.3 and Ruby 1.9.3p125 (2012-02-16 revision 34643) [x86_64-darwin10.8.0].

#amCharts Tutorial

###Section 1 - Create a new project

1) Create a new repository on GitHub named ‘amcharts_example’

2) Create a new rails project

$ rails new amcharts_example
$ cd amcharts_example

3) Open the project in your favorite text editor (Example: I am using Sublime Text 2)

$ subl .

4) Update the Gemfile

source ''

gem 'rails', '3.2.3'

group :development, :test do
 gem 'sqlite3', '1.3.5'
 gem 'rspec-rails', '2.9.0'

# Gems used only for assets and not required
# in production environments by default.
group :assets do
 gem 'sass-rails',   '3.2.4'
 gem 'coffee-rails', '3.2.2'
 gem 'uglifier', '1.2.3'

gem 'jquery-rails', '2.0.0'

group :test do
 gem 'capybara', '1.1.2'

group :production do
 gem 'pg', '0.12.2'

5) Install and include the new gems

$ bundle install

6) Initialize the Git repository and push to GitHub

$ git init
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "Initial commit"
$ git remote add origin [email protected]:<username>/amcharts_example.git
$ git push -u origin master

7) (Optional) Deploy the app to Heroku. (Assuming you have already created a Heroku account. If not, check out this tutorial)

$ heroku create --stack cedar
$ git push heroku master

###Section 2 - Create a static page to display the graph

8) Generate a StaticPages controller

$ rails generate controller StaticPages mygraph

9) Download the latest version of the amCharts JavaScript Charts release from their website

10) From the download, copy the file ‘amcharts.js’ and paste it in the project file directory in the app/assets/javascripts folder.

11) Add a graph to the view of the new static page mygraph.html.erb

<h1>My amCharts Graph</h1>
<p>This is my amCharts graph</p>

<div id="chartdiv" style="width: 100%; height: 400px;"></div>

 <script type="text/javascript">
        var chart;

        var chartData = [{
            country: "USA",
            visits: 4025
        }, {
            country: "China",
            visits: 1882
        }, {
            country: "Japan",
            visits: 1809
        }, {
            country: "Germany",
            visits: 1322
        }, {
            country: "UK",
            visits: 1122
        }, {
            country: "France",
            visits: 1114
        }, {
            country: "India",
            visits: 984
        }, {
            country: "Spain",
            visits: 711
        }, {
            country: "Netherlands",
            visits: 665
        }, {
            country: "Russia",
            visits: 580
        }, {
            country: "South Korea",
            visits: 443
        }, {
            country: "Canada",
            visits: 441
        }, {
            country: "Brazil",
            visits: 395
        }, {
            country: "Italy",
            visits: 386
        }, {
            country: "Australia",
            visits: 384
        }, {
            country: "Taiwan",
            visits: 338
        }, {
            country: "Poland",
            visits: 328

        AmCharts.ready(function () {
            // SERIAL CHART
            chart = new AmCharts.AmSerialChart();
            chart.dataProvider = chartData;
            chart.categoryField = "country";
            chart.startDuration = 1;

            // AXES
            // category
            var categoryAxis = chart.categoryAxis;
            categoryAxis.labelRotation = 90;
            categoryAxis.gridPosition = "start";

            // GRAPH
            var graph = new AmCharts.AmGraph();
            graph.valueField = "visits";
            graph.balloonText = "[[category]]: [[value]]";
            graph.type = "column";
            graph.lineAlpha = 0;
            graph.fillAlphas = 0.8;


12) Commit the changes

$ git add .
$ git commit -am "Added a StaticPages Controller and amcharts.js"
$ git push
$ git push heroku

13) Test it on the local server (start the server)

$ rails s

And visit: http://localhost:3000/static_pages/mygraph

14) Deploy and test it on Heroku

$ heroku open

Now navigate to http://[yourappname]

You can visit the example for this tutorial here:

###Section 3 - Add a model

We will add a ‘Country’ model (and the corresponding ‘Countries’ controller). In this database we will store the data for each country and the number of visits.

15) Add a ‘Countries’ controller

$ rails generate controller Countries new

16) Add a ‘Country’ model

$ rails generate model Country country:string visits:integer

(Note that, in contrast to the plural convention for controller names, model names are singular.)

17) Migrate up the database

$ bundle exec rake db:migrate

18) Update the routes.rb file

resources :countries, only: [:new, :create]

match '/countries/new', to: 'countries#new'
match '/static_pages/mygraph',   to: 'static_pages#mygraph'

19) Update the countries controller

class CountriesController < ApplicationController
  def new
    @countries =

     respond_to do |format|
      format.html  # new.html.erb
      format.json  { render :json => @countries }

  def create
    @countries =[:country])
      redirect_to '/static_pages/mygraph'
      redirect_to '/countries/new'

20) Update the countries/new.html.erb view

<h1>New Country</h1>
<p>Enter some new data</p>

<%= form_for(@countries) do |f| %>

<%= f.label :country %>
<%= f.text_field :country %>

<%= f.label :visits %>
<%= f.text_field :visits %>

<%= f.submit "Save" %>

<% end %>       

*NB: We have not added any validations to our model (and we also do not have any validations on the client side, just a text field). When you create your own model, you will want to make sure that you are vaildating the data that is going into your model.

21) Make the graph dynamic (pulling the data from the database). Update ‘var chartData’ in the static_pages/mygraph view

var chartData = <%= raw @countries.to_json.gsub(/\"created_at\"/, "created_at").gsub(/\"id\"/, "id").gsub(/\"country\"/, "country").gsub(/\"visits\"/, "visits").gsub(/\"updated_at\"/, "updated_at") %>;

*NB: On first glance, it might seem like amCharts supports JSON data. However, it is actually not valid JSON and we need to adjust the JSON data accordingly.

21a) To refactor the above, we can pull the logic out of the view and create a helper method. Thanks to @chiragsinghal for pointing this out. This will also help keep your code DRY if you have multiple graphs.

Open static_pages_helper.rb and edit the code as follows:

module StaticPagesHelper
  def convert_to_amcharts_json(data_array)
    data_array.to_json.gsub(/\"text\"/, "text").html_safe

Then you can change the ‘var chartData’ to the following:

var chartData = <%= convert_to_amcharts_json(@countries) %>;    

22) Update the StaticPages controller

class StaticPagesController < ApplicationController
  def mygraph
    @countries = Country.find(:all)

23) Commit the changes and test on the local server

$ git add .
$ git commit -am "completed dynamic graph"
$ git push
$ rails s

And visit: http://localhost:3000/countries/new and enter in some data:

Example; Country: Japan Visits: 300

You should now see a bar graph with one bar! Your graph is now dynamic and tied to your model.

24) Push to Heroku and test

$ git push heroku
$ heroku run rake db:migrate
$ heroku open

Now navigate to http://[yourappname]

You can visit the example for this tutorial here: and enter in some data.

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Ruby on Rails tutorial describing how to link an amCharts JavaScript chart to the data in your database ...