Create Bar Graphs in SharePoint


(UPDATE 12/04/07: Added another interesting resource at the end linking to another blog that addresses this via a very interesting web part)

This blog entry describes how to create a bar graph in SharePoint.  This works in both WSS and MOSS environments as it only depends upon the data view web part.

The overall approach is as follows:

  1. Create a list or document library that contains the data you want to graph.
  2. Place the associated document library / custom list onto a page and convert it to a data view web part (DVWP).
  3. Modify the DVWP’s XSL to generate HTML that shows as a graph.

Business Scenario / Setup:

I have created a custom list with the standard Title column and one additional column, "Status".  This models (very simplistically) an "Authorization For Expense" scenario where the title represents the project and the Status a value from the list of:

  • Proposed
  • In Process
  • Stalled

The objective is to produce an interactive horizontal bar graph that shows these status codes.

I have populated the list and it looks like this:


Create Data View Web Part:

Create the DVWP by adding the custom list to a page (site page in my case) and follow the instructions here (!1CC1EDB3DAA9B8AA!395.entry).

In addition to simply creating the DVWP, we also need to set the paging property to show all available rows.  For me, this looks something like this:


At this point, I always close SPD and the browser.  I then re-open the page using the browser.  This avoids accidentally mucking up the web part layout on the page.

Modify the XSLT:

It’s now time to modify the XSLT.

I always use visual studio for this.  (See here for an important note about intellisense that will help you a lot).

I create an empty project add four new files (replacing the words "Original" and "New" as appropriate):

  • Original.xslt
  • New.xslt
  • Original Params.xml
  • New Params.xml

In my case, it looks like this:


Modify the web part and copy the params and XSL to the "Original" version in Visual Studio.

The objective here is to cause the XSL to transform the results we get back from the DVWP query into HTML that renders as a graph.

To this end, it helps to first consider what the HTML should look like before we get confused by the insanity that is known as "XSL".  (To be clear, the following is simply an example; don’t type it or copy/paste into visual studio.  I provide a full blow starting point for that later in the write-up).  The following sample graph is rendered as per the HTML immediately following:

Sample Bar Graph

Corresponding HTML:

    <table width=80%>
      <tr><td><center>Horizontal Bar Graph</td></tr>
        <td align="center">
          <table border="1" width=80%>
              <td width=10%>Open</td>
              <td><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" border=0 width=50%><tr bgcolor=red><td>&nbsp;</td></tr></table></td>
              <td width=10%>Closed</td>
              <td><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" border=0 width=25%><tr bgcolor=red><td>&nbsp;</td></tr></table></td>
              <td width=10%>Stalled</td>
              <td><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" border=0 width=25%><tr bgcolor=red><td>&nbsp;</td></tr></table></td>

I used a dead simple approach to creating my bars by setting the background color of a  row to "red". 

The take-away here is this: In the end, all we are doing is creating HTML with rows and columns.

Template XSLT:

I’ve copied the XSLT that generates a horizontal bar graph.  It’s fairly well commented so I won’t add much here except for these notes:

  • I started with the default XSL that SharePoint Designer gave me when I first created the DVWP.
  • I was able to cut this down from SPD’s 657 lines to 166 lines. 
  • I didn’t mess around with the parameters XML file (which is separate from the XSL and you’ll know what I mean when you go to modify the DVWP itself; there are two files you can modify).  However, in order to simplify it, I did remove nearly all of them from the XSL.  This means that if you want to make use of those parameters, you just need to add their variable definitions back to the XSL.  That will be easy since you will have the original XSL variable definitions in your visual studio project.
  • You ought to be able to copy and paste this directly into your visual studio project.  Then, remove my calls and insert your own calls to "ShowBar".
  • The drill down works by creating an <a href> like this: http://server/List?FilterField1=fieldname&FilterValue1=actualFilterValue.  This technique may be of value in other contexts.  At first, I thought I would need to conform to a more complex format: http://server/List/AllItems.aspx?View={guid}&FilterField1=blah&FilterValue1=blah, but in my environment that is not necessary.  The List’s URL is passed to us by SharePoint so this is quite easy to generalize.

Here it is:

<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" exclude-result-prefixes="rs z o s ddwrt dt msxsl" 
xmlns:msxsl="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xslt" xmlns:xsl=""
xmlns:SharePoint="Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls" xmlns:__designer=""
xmlns:asp="" xmlns:ddwrt=""
xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office" xmlns:s="uuid:BDC6E3F0-6DA3-11d1-A2A3-00AA00C14882"
xmlns:dt="uuid:C2F41010-65B3-11d1-A29F-00AA00C14882" xmlns:rs="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:rowset" xmlns:z="#RowsetSchema"
> <xsl:output method="html" indent="no" /> <xsl:decimal-format NaN="" /> <xsl:param name="ListUrlDir"></xsl:param> <!-- I need this to support a drill-down. --> <xsl:template match="/" xmlns:SharePoint="Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls"
xmlns:__designer= xmlns:asp=""
> <xsl:variable name="dvt_StyleName">Table</xsl:variable> <xsl:variable name="Rows" select="/dsQueryResponse/Rows/Row" /> <xsl:variable name="dvt_RowCount" select="count($Rows)" /> <xsl:variable name="IsEmpty" select="$dvt_RowCount = 0" /> <xsl:variable name="dvt_IsEmpty" select="$dvt_RowCount = 0" /> <xsl:choose> <xsl:when test="$dvt_IsEmpty"> There is no data to graph!<br/> </xsl:when> <xsl:otherwise> <!-- The interesting stuff begins here. We need to define a pair of variables for each row in the graph: total number of items and percent of total. --> <xsl:variable name="totalProposed" select="count(/dsQueryResponse/Rows/Row[normalize-space(@Status) = 'Proposed'])" /> <xsl:variable name="percentProposed" select="$totalProposed div $dvt_RowCount" /> <xsl:variable name="totalInProcess" select="count(/dsQueryResponse/Rows/Row[normalize-space(@Status) = 'In Process'])" /> <xsl:variable name="percentInProcess" select="$totalInProcess div $dvt_RowCount" /> <xsl:variable name="totalStalled" select="count(/dsQueryResponse/Rows/Row[normalize-space(@Status) = 'Stalled'])" /> <xsl:variable name="percentStalled" select="$totalStalled div $dvt_RowCount" /> <!-- We define our HTML table here. I'm borrowing from some standard SharePoint styles here to make it consistent. I think it will honor changes to the global css file as well as theme overrides. --> <table width="100%" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="2" style="border-right: 1 solid #C0C0C0; border-bottom: 1 solid #C0C0C0; border-left-style: solid; border-left-width: 1; border-top-style: solid; border-top-width: 1;"> <tr> <td align="center"> <table border="1" width="100%"> <!-- For each status that we want to graph, we call the "ShowBar" template. We pass it: 1. A label for the row. This is transformed into a hyperlink. 2. The percent (variable from above). 3. The actual field name of the code from the underlying list. This does not need to match the display label. 4. Field value matched for #3. 5. Total items of this status code (not the grand total of all status codes). It emits a <tr></tr> and the horizontal bar graph line. We call this template for each status code we want to view. --> <xsl:call-template name="ShowBar"> <xsl:with-param name="BarDisplayLabel" select="'Proposed'"/> <xsl:with-param name="BarPercent" select="$percentProposed"/> <xsl:with-param name="QueryFilterFieldName" select="'Status'"/> <xsl:with-param name="QueryFilterFieldValue" select="'Proposed'"/> <xsl:with-param name="TotalItems" select="$totalProposed"></xsl:with-param> </xsl:call-template> <xsl:call-template name="ShowBar"> <xsl:with-param name="BarDisplayLabel" select="'Stalled'"/> <xsl:with-param name="BarPercent" select="$percentStalled"/> <xsl:with-param name="QueryFilterFieldName" select="'Status'"/> <xsl:with-param name="QueryFilterFieldValue" select="'Stalled'"/> <xsl:with-param name="TotalItems" select="$totalStalled"></xsl:with-param> </xsl:call-template> <xsl:call-template name="ShowBar"> <xsl:with-param name="BarDisplayLabel" select="'In Process'"/> <xsl:with-param name="BarPercent" select="$percentInProcess"/> <xsl:with-param name="QueryFilterFieldName" select="'Status'"/> <xsl:with-param name="QueryFilterFieldValue" select="'In Process'"/> <xsl:with-param name="TotalItems" select="$totalInProcess"></xsl:with-param> </xsl:call-template> </table> </td> </tr> </table> </xsl:otherwise> </xsl:choose> </xsl:template> <!-- This template does the work of displaying individual lines in the bar graph. You'll probably do most of your tweaking here. --> <xsl:template name="ShowBar"> <xsl:param name="BarDisplayLabel" /> <!-- label to show --> <xsl:param name="BarPercent"/> <!-- Percent of total. --> <xsl:param name="QueryFilterFieldName"/> <!-- Used to jump to the query & filter --> <xsl:param name="QueryFilterFieldValue"/> <!-- Used to jump to the query & filter --> <xsl:param name="TotalItems" /> <!-- total count of this barlabel --> <tr> <!-- The bar label itself. --> <td class="ms-formbody" width="30%"> <!-- This next set of statements builds a query string that allows us to drill down to a filtered view of the underlying data. We make use of a few things here: 1. We can pass FilterField1 and FilterValue1 to a list to filter on a column. 2. SharePoint is passing a key parameter to us, ListUrlDir that points to the underlying list against which this DVWP is "running". Isn't XSL fun? --> <xsl:text disable-output-escaping="yes"> <![CDATA[<a href="]]></xsl:text> <xsl:value-of select="$ListUrlDir"/> <xsl:text disable-output-escaping="yes"><![CDATA[?FilterField1=]]></xsl:text> <xsl:value-of select="$QueryFilterFieldName"/> <xsl:text disable-output-escaping="yes"><![CDATA[&FilterValue1=]]></xsl:text> <xsl:value-of select="$QueryFilterFieldValue"/> <xsl:text disable-output-escaping="yes"><![CDATA[">]]></xsl:text> <xsl:value-of select="$BarDisplayLabel"/> <xsl:text disable-output-escaping="yes"><![CDATA[</a>]]></xsl:text> <!-- The next bit shows some numbers in the format: "(total / % of total)" --> (<xsl:value-of select="$TotalItems"/> / <!-- This creates a nice percent label for us. Thanks, Microsoft! --> <xsl:call-template name="percentformat"> <xsl:with-param name="percent" select="$BarPercent"/> </xsl:call-template>) </td> <!-- Finally, emit a <td> tag for the bar itself.--> <td> <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" border="0" width="{round($BarPercent*100)+1}%"> <tr bgcolor="red"> <xsl:text disable-output-escaping="yes"><![CDATA[&nbsp;]]></xsl:text> </tr> </table> </td> </tr> </xsl:template> <!-- This is taken directly from some XSL I found in an MS template. --> <xsl:template name="percentformat"> <xsl:param name="percent"/> <xsl:choose> <xsl:when test="format-number($percent, '#,##0%;-#,##0%')= 'NaN'">0%</xsl:when> <xsl:otherwise> <xsl:value-of select="format-number($percent, '#,##0%;-#,##0%')" /> </xsl:otherwise> </xsl:choose> </xsl:template> </xsl:stylesheet>

The Results:

The XSL from above generates this graph:


Drill down to the underlying data by clicking on the status code:


Concluding Thoughts:

Can This Be Generalized?

I love this graphing concept, but I hate the fact that I have to go in and do so much hand-coding.  I’ve given a little thought to whether it can be generalized and I’m optimistic, but I’m also a little fearful that there may be a brick wall somewhere along the path that won’t offer any work-around.  If anyone has some good ideas on this, please make a note in the comments or email me.

Vertical Graphs:

This is a horizontal bar graph.  It’s certainly possible to create a vertical graph.  We just need to change the HTML.  I would start the same way: Create an HTML representation of a vertical bar graph and then figure out how to get that via XSL.  If anyone is interested in that, I could be persuaded to try it out and work out the kinks.  If someone has already done that, please let me know and I’ll gladly link to your blog 🙂

I think that challenge with a vertical graph is that the labels for the graph are more difficult to manage, but certainly not impossible.

Field Name Gotcha’s:

There are at least two things to look out for with your field names.

First, a field name with a space has to be escaped in the XSL.  This will probably be an issue here:

        <xsl:variable name="totalProposed" 
select="count(/dsQueryResponse/Rows/Row[normalize-space(@Status) = 'Proposed'])" />

If your "Status" column is actually named "Status Code" then you need to reference it as "Status_x0020_Code":

   <xsl:variable name="totalProposed" 
select="count(/dsQueryResponse/Rows/Row[normalize-space(@Status_x0020_Code) = 'Proposed'])" />

Second, and I’m a little fuzzy on this, but you also need to be on the alert for field name changes.  If you name your field "Status Code" and then later on, rename it to "AFE Status", the "internal name" does not change.  The internal name will still be "Status Code" and must be referenced as "Status_x0020_Code".   The "other resources" links may help diagnose and correct this kind of problem.

About that Color:

I picked "red" because it’s pleasing to me at the moment.  It would not be a big deal to show different colors so as to provide more than just a visual description of a number, but to also provide a useful KPI.  For example, if the percentage of "stalled" AFE’s is > 10% then show it red, otherwise show it in black.  Use <xsl:choose> to accomplish this.

Other Resources:

Happy transforming!


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17 thoughts on “Create Bar Graphs in SharePoint

  1. Chris B

    This page almost completed the task I was looking for.

    I have a group that wants to use the SharePoint Survey list to create a weekly poll. The catch? They do not want to see code… Or change the system every time they send the poll (planned for a weekly update).

    I was able to connect this to the Survey list and create the graph on the first answer column. What I can’t predict though are the values and labels that they will need moving forward. To make matters worse they may have more or less answers available each week.

    I will look elsewhere just in case, but has anyone found a way to create rows and labels based off of the number of available options and dynamically setting these rather than hard coding the expected values?

  2. Greg Laushine

    Thanks Paul. Very helpful. Thanks to your work, I was able to add a graph bar column to an existing DVWP (e.g. for tasks) very easily with just a few lines of your code.
    In SharePoint Designer, I inserted a data view with the Title and % complete columns from a task list. I put the cursor in one of the cells and right click. I select insert a column to the right. In code view, I found the <td> and replaced the <xsl:text element inside the cell with your code:
    <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" border="0"
    <tr style="background-color:red">
    <xsl:text disable-output-escaping="yes"><![CDATA[&nbsp;]]></xsl:text>

    Note I changed the row color code from bgcolor="red" to style="background-color:red"
    Also, was able to select one of the columns in my list (@PercentComplete) in place of "$BarPercent"

  3. Wolfgang
    Paul, thanks for this! I created an exact copy of what you did and it works almost perfect. There was one tiny issue in row the 2nd paragraph of your code:
    <xsl:template match="/" xmlns:SharePoint="Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls"
        xmlns:__designer= xmlns:asp=""&gt;
    After I corrected that it works like charm! I will now adapt this to my own list and status but I am sure it won’t be to hard. (I will post the result)
    Thanks again
  4. No name
    question –
    What if in my graph, i wanted a variable to not just count one status but count multiple ones? 
    So, for example what if I had —
        <xsl:variable name="RequestsInitialized"
       select="count(/dsQueryResponse/Rows/Row[normalize-space(@Status)=’WIP’])" />
    –The thing is, I want it to count instances of ‘WIP’, but i also want this variable to count something else like ‘Pending Review’..  how would i do this?
  5. Murty Srirangam
    Hi Paul,
     Iam really  this is really a great effort by you. Can you please explain where would i post this code. I have created a prjoect with four new files. Then can you explain in more detail what should i do.
    Thank you
  6. Andrew Carrington
    Hi, I am trying to modify this slightly so that it displays a graph of tasks in a task list against user information. It uses a column called @AssignedTo which is a user presence column. I can get it to display teh rendered HTML but cant get it to calculate and display values.
    Any ideas?
  7. Patrik Luca wrote:
    Hi Paul,
    great post!
    A question:
    I would like to filter on two fields at the same time: how can this be achieved?
    For example, one of your variables is called totalStalled and it filters on @Status.
    I would like to filter at the same time to reduce my number of returned records on another field.
    I already found how to make an ‘OR’, but I donnot manage to find the ‘AND’
    An ‘OR’ can be achieved like this:
    <xsl:variable name="totalStalled" select="count(/dsQueryResponse/Rows/Row[normalize-space(@Status) = ‘Stalled’] | /dsQueryResponse/Rows/Row[normalize-space(@ExtraFilterField) = ‘value’])" />
  8. Robin Meuré

    Hi Paul!

    Nice work! I also had something like this in my mind to view SharePoint lists in a graphical way 😉

  9. Frank

    I have a ‘Using Dashboards in SharePoint’ question. We are a military hospital using MOSS standard for our Intranet and would like to build a dashboard for our Command Group to see ‘real time’ if possible. One of the main points is viewing the real-time current workload within the facility and literally watch it change up and down (may have to click “refresh”/F5).

    Thank you in advance,


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