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Jun 23, 2011

3-D Pie Charts in JMP

One of the discussion topics that generated a lot of interest in my Discovery 2008 conference session on Presentation Quality Graphics was the use of special effects such as adding a third dimension to two-dimensional plots.

Conventional wisdom in the data visualization community is that these effects add no value and often even distort the data being shown. Pie charts usually fall into that category, too. For an analysis on the effectiveness of pie charts, see Stephen Few's article Save the Pies for Dessert [PDF].

Nonetheless, some people love pie charts and special effects. In the conference discussion, these people were labeled "executives," and many engineers would rather please the executives than re-educate them.

JMP tends to focus on making graphs interactive and effective rather than pretty and eye-catching. JMP can do pie charts, but they are not a core visualization tool, and we have no plans of doing 3-D pie charts.

However, it occurred to me that JMP does provide a scriptable interface for 3-D graphs, and one could make a 3-D pie chart with a JSL script. After I put together a proof of concept, summer intern and Iowa State statistics student Jong-Seok Lee built it into to a usable script that prompts you for columns and generates 3-D pie charts. He added some nice features such as a grouping variable and the ability to make the pie sizes proportional to the group sizes.

And like any 3-D graph in JMP, you can grab each pie and rotate it to the view you want. Something to make any executive happy!

You can find the script at the bottom of this page in the JMP File Exchange.

Community Member

Xan Gregg wrote:

I'm already regretting it!

Community Member

Jon M Peltier wrote:

3D Pie Charts? Oh, please don't encourage them!

Community Member

I Like 3-D Pie Charts - JMP Blog wrote:

[...] slider bars that let you adjust degree of explosion and shininess. (Thanks to JMP experts Xan Gregg, who has written about 3-D pie charts in JMP, Craige Hales and David Barbour.) The ability to personally control the graph won me over. Graph B [...]

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