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Realtime data visualization

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What is realtime data visualization?

A realtime data visualization is a visual representation of data that is processed and published (visually) in realtime.

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Types of realtime data visualization

The main types of realtime data visualization are:

  • Live charts: Live charts display numerical data in a visual format. This allows users to have a clearer view of the numerical data, which is useful for insight and analysis. Chart data can be published from a 3rd party service or from within your application.

  • Live metrics: A Live metric shows the latest data associated with an event. Combining this data with historical data can help to show trends and patterns in a chart.

  • Live visuals (e.g. heatmaps): Live visuals display realtime data using colour codes and systems to provide a more engaging representation of the data.

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Where can I use realtime data visualization?

  • Financial market data

  • Viewer count on a virtual event

  • Weather data (temperature)

  • Multiplayer game leaderboard

  • Instant sales updates

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What do you need to build realtime data visualizations?

Live data visualizations are mad up of two core elements: a user interface, and broadcast data.

The user interface needs to be flexible, and interactive, so that it can respond to changes as data is sent to it in realtime.

The data broadcast needs to have persistence (an open connection that allows the data to be transferred), so that the data can be updated in realtime.

Ably supports the data broadcast side of this experience through our flexible APIs and SDKs. Read on to find out how you can build a live chart using Ably.

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How to build a live chart

Ably has simple yet powerful APIs to help you to build Live Charts, that support insight and analysis. Let's look at how to get started!

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Step 1: Sign up to Ably

Visit our sign up page to start using Ably for free. Simply upgrade when you need to ramp up usage past 6M Monthly messages, 200 Peak concurrent channels, 200 Peak concurrent connections. Once you are signed up, download one of our SDKs to get started.

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Step 2: Start using Ably Channels, Pub/Sub Messaging, and Rewind/History

Ably Channels

Channel is the unit of distribution of messages. Channels can be used to segment the data. For example, different locations for weather, different chart data to be displayed etc. Users or their devices can subscribe to a specific or multiple channels.

Ably Pub/Sub Messaging

Pub/Sub is an architectural pattern used to distribute real-time information, as messages. Messages can be of any format. For Live Charts, the data will represent a data point for the chart. Publishing multiple messages allows the chart to be drawn.

Ably Rewind/History

History provides access to historical messages. This can be used to see previously published messages. 

Rewind allows you to specify, at the time of attaching to a channel, where to start the attachment from. This is another way to get historical information consistently of subscribing and receiving messages from a channel without using another API.

You'll need to do the following to get started with adding Live Charts to your application.

  • Implement the UI for the Live Chart and/or Live Metric using your chosen solution.

  • Consider the integration needed to publish data into your application. Ably provides integrations with many other protocols, databases, clouds, and services, so connecting it with your back-end data source is simple. For example, you can use our Kafka Connector to seamlessly broadcast data from Kafka topics to web and mobile clients.

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Discover what else you can do with Ably!

As well as data broadcast, Ably powers realtime messaging and chat, multiplayer collaboration, and data sync. Interested to learn more?

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