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Housing data site adds charts

Posted by: VHFA on 1/30/2009

We managed a significant accomplishment this week when we added a charting function to the Vermont Housing Data site.

Users of the site's Vermont housing data profiles section will now see charts in addition to tabular data when they opt to view historical information for any data item.

As before, users can also choose to save historical data as Excel files.

Vermont Housing Data, developed and maintained by VHFA in partnership with the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont, went online in 2003. It's the largest online source of market rate and affordable housing information for Vermont.

We'd wished to add a charting function to the site practically from the beginning, but were hampered by the scale of the effort. With so many data items displayed by the site — and such a disparate range of values — devising a system that could handle all of our needs was daunting.

Relief came last week when we discovered pChart, a free, open source framework that handles most of the heavy lifting of generating charts on-the-fly for the site.

pChart was developed by Jean-Damien Pogolotti, and is an excellent example of the community spirit that thrives around two other open source projects: the PHP server-side scripting language and MySQL database management system, both of which power the Vermont Housing Data site.