1. Overview

In this tutorial, we’ll see how to use JFreeChart, a comprehensive Java library for creating a wide variety of charts. We can use it to integrate graphical data representations into a Swing application. It also includes a separate extension for JavaFX.

We’ll start with the basics, covering setup and chart creation, and try a few different types of charts.

2. Creating Our First Chart

JFreeChart allows us to create line charts, bar charts, pie charts, scatter plots, time series charts, histograms, and others. It can also combine different charts into a single view.

2.1. Setting Up Dependencies

To get started, we need to add the jfreechart artifact to our pom.xml file:


We should always check the latest release and its JDK compatibility to make sure our project is up-to-date and working properly. In this case, version 1.5.4 requires JDK8 or later.

2.2. Creating a Basic Line Chart

Let’s start by using DefaultCategoryDataset to create a dataset for our graph:

DefaultCategoryDataset dataset = new DefaultCategoryDataset();
dataset.addValue(200, "Sales", "January");
dataset.addValue(150, "Sales", "February");
dataset.addValue(180, "Sales", "March");
dataset.addValue(260, "Sales", "April");
dataset.addValue(300, "Sales", "May");

Now, we can create a JFreeChart object that uses the previous dataset to plot a line chart.

The ChartFactory.createLineChart method takes the chart title, the x-axis and y-axis labels, and the dataset as parameters:

JFreeChart chart = ChartFactory.createLineChart(
    "Monthly Sales",

Next, a ChartPanel object is essential for displaying our chart within a Swing component. This object is then used as a JFrame content pane to create the application window:

ChartPanel chartPanel = new ChartPanel(chart);
JFrame frame = new JFrame();
frame.setSize(800, 600);

When we run this code, we’ll see our Monthly Sales graph:

JFreeChart - Line Chart Example

As we can see, we’ve created a chart using only a small amount of code.

3. Exploring Different Types of Charts

In the remaining examples, we’ll try some different types of charts. We won’t need to change the code much.

3.1. Bar Charts

We can modify the JFreeChart creation code to convert our line graph to a bar chart:

JFreeChart chart = ChartFactory.createBarChart(
    "Monthly Sales",

This plots the dataset from the previous example:

JFreeChart - Bar Chart Example

As we can see, JFreeChart is quite flexible, making it easy to display the same data with different kinds of charts.

3.2. Pie Charts

Pie charts show the proportion of parts within a whole. To create a pie chart, we need to use the DefaultPieDataset class to create our dataset. We also use the createPieChart() method to build our JFreeChart object:

DefaultPieDataset<String> dataset = new DefaultPieDataset<>();
dataset.setValue("January", 200);
dataset.setValue("February", 150);
dataset.setValue("March", 180);

JFreeChart chart = ChartFactory.createPieChart(
    "Monthly Sales",
    true,    // include legend
    true,    // generate tooltips
    false);  // no URLs

Tooltips showing absolute sales in a month and relative percentage of the total are visible when we hover the mouse over a slice of the pie:

JFreeChart - Pie Chart Example

Finally, we should note that there are several variations of the ChartFactory.createPieChart() method for finer customization.

3.3. Time Series Charts

Time series charts show trends in data over time. To construct the dataset, we need a TimeSeriesCollection object, which is a collection of TimeSeries objects, each of which is a sequence of data items containing a value related to a specific time period:

TimeSeries series = new TimeSeries("Monthly Sales");
series.add(new Month(1, 2024), 200);
series.add(new Month(2, 2024), 150);
series.add(new Month(3, 2024), 180);

TimeSeriesCollection dataset = new TimeSeriesCollection();

JFreeChart chart = ChartFactory.createTimeSeriesChart(
    "Monthly Sales",
    true,    // legend
    false,   // tooltips
    false);  // no URLs

Let’s see the result:

JFreeChart - Time Series Chart Example

This example shows the power of JFreeChart in plotting time series data, making it easy to track changes over time.

3.4. Combination Charts

Combination charts allow us to combine different types of charts into one. Compared to the previous examples, the code is a bit more complex.

We need to use DefaultCategoryDataset to store the data, but here, we create two instances, one for each chart type:

DefaultCategoryDataset lineDataset = new DefaultCategoryDataset();
lineDataset.addValue(200, "Sales", "January");
lineDataset.addValue(150, "Sales", "February");
lineDataset.addValue(180, "Sales", "March");

DefaultCategoryDataset barDataset = new DefaultCategoryDataset();
barDataset.addValue(400, "Profit", "January");
barDataset.addValue(300, "Profit", "February");
barDataset.addValue(250, "Profit", "March");

CategoryPlot creates the plot area that contains both types of charts. It allows us to assign datasets to renderers — LineAndShapeRenderer for lines, and BarRenderer for bars:

CategoryPlot plot = new CategoryPlot();
plot.setDataset(0, lineDataset);
plot.setRenderer(0, new LineAndShapeRenderer());

plot.setDataset(1, barDataset);
plot.setRenderer(1, new BarRenderer());

plot.setDomainAxis(new CategoryAxis("Month"));
plot.setRangeAxis(new NumberAxis("Value"));


Finally, let’s use JFreeChart to create the final chart:

JFreeChart chart = new JFreeChart(
    "Monthly Sales and Profit",
    null,  // null means to use default font
    plot,  // combination chart as CategoryPlot
    true); // legend

This setup allows for a combined presentation of data that visually demonstrates the synergy between sales and profit:

JFreeChart - Combination Charts

This way, JFreeChart can present complex datasets that require multiple chart types for better understanding and analysis.

4. Conclusion

In this article, we’ve explored the creation of different types of charts with JFreeChart, including line charts, bar charts, pie charts, time series charts, and combination charts.

This introduction only scratches the surface of what JFreeChart can do.

As always, the code for this article is available over on GitHub.

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