When the developers at ProWorks LLC were putting together the components for the newest version of Flipper Graph Control, they wanted to build an ActiveX charting control program made for the people, by the people.
It was for that reason that they turned to current users for product improvement suggestions. Through technical support calls, e-mails, and surveys, developers made a point of documenting user requests and adding what users wanted.
The result was Flipper Graph Control 2.0 (FGC), a program that allows users to create charts and data graphs for almost anything, using development environments that support 32-bit ActiveX containment, including Visual Basic.
Jason Prothero, lead developer at ProWorks, said that even though this release is not a total rewrite of the code that comprised FGC 1.5, the usability improvements make it a worthwhile investment.
"It adds a lot of GUI [graphical user interface] capabilities, a lot more customizing, a lot of visual upgrade additions, essentially to make the control look the way the developer would want it to look," said Prothero.
Making the program even more attractive, said Prothero, is the absence of back-end royalty commitments.
"Say there are two people on a project, they would each purchase a license. When they distribute their application, there are no royalties on their sales," he said.
One of the many additions to version 2.0 is date handling ability, allowing dates without data to be filtered out of the display.
With this improvement, in finance graphs, for instance, non-trading days can be easily removed from volume graphs that display highs and lows in stock market trading.
"The only data that would show up are the days that have data," according to Prothero. "It's one thing to be able to increment by month, but to be able to filter out data that you don't want to see is kind of nice."
As another new advantage, two-dimensional graphs now retain their data-aspect ratio, a big plus for developers.
"Say you have a one-to-one aspect ratio for your 'x' and 'y' [coordinates], and you draw a circle on the graph," Prothero said. "Normally your circle, or the data, would stretch. Instead, the scale stretches so your data looks the same on every graph on every person's computer.
"With Flipper Graph Control, you can place as many graphs as you want on the control. We've added better support for that, so you can merge or align the graphs however you want... especially for high-low graphs or volume graphs, because everything is positioned very simply and is easy to use," Prothero said.
Other additions and improvements include: ActiveX Data Object (ADO) record set capability; signed .cab files for added security on the Web; tool tips; and graphical user interface (GUI) enhancements, such as Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) drag & drop support, gradients on bars and fill patterns.
As a bonus, the program now includes all moving average functions, so manual calculation is no longer necessary, Prothero said.