Axiom Charts — Tutorial

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Axiom Charts are a new component of the core Axiom database product. Chart Design is a tool that allows you to build your own charts from query results. To learn about charts, start here with a brief video tour of the new features, and then watch the four Chart Design Tutorial videos below.

Axiom Chart Design Tutorial

The following series of videos is designed to provide you with a solid, foundational knowledge of how to use Axiom Chart Design. After watching each video, there are "Next Steps" to help reinforce the information that has been covered. It is recommended that you complete these tasks before moving on to the next video.

Prerequisite Knowledge

Prior to beginning the Axiom Chart Tutorial, it is recommended that you have a solid grasp on how to use Axiom Query Design to customize queries. To learn more about query design, please explore the articles listed below.

Click here for documentation on basic query design in Axiom.
Click here for documentation on advanced query design options within Axiom.
Click here for documentation on various display options for queries within Axiom.

Video 1: Building a Basic Chart

In this video, we will build a simple admissions chart as an introduction to chart design.

Next Steps

  • Tactile learners: take any data set of interest and begin experimenting by creating a chart
  • Didactic learners: watch the next video for an overview of chart design features

Video 2: Chart Design Features

In this video, we will build an admissions chart while describing all of the design options within Axiom Chart Design.

Next Steps

  1. Build the chart from the video in their own database from the Admissions Pipeline report
  2. Include other data points that your admissions office may want to see
  3. Experiment with all the design options available
  4. Show the Admissions Office and add other data points in which they are interested

Video 3: Single Series and Treemaps

In this video, we will explore two chart types: Single Series (e.g. Pie charts) and Treemap charts.

 Next Steps

  • Build a pie chart for any small dataset in a simple chart
  • Build a major donors dashboard as a treemap

Video 4: Cartesian Time Series Charts

In this video, we will discuss how to build charts that show data across time.

 Next Steps

  • Build some email charts; experiment with date formats and share insights about email communication patterns
  • Examine the chart on the Identity and Access Management homepage and then build a new version. Experiment with filters and chart designs and then share insights about login patterns

Webinar: Axiom Charting Best Practices

If you have worked through the above videos, you can extend your knowledge of Axiom charts via this "best practices" webinar from March 2019:

 Axiom Charts - "Need to Know"

  • All queries used in charts must be saved before being opened in a chart
  • An unsaved chart, much like an unsaved query, will append the URL with an asterisk
  • When modifying chart design options, the chart preview updates in real-time
  • The tabs on the chart page show the chart and the queries underlying all series in the chart
  • Charts can be exported and downloaded as an image file (PNG) via the Action menu
  • Double Clicking on a data point in a Cartesian chart will link you to the drilldown query for the set of data represented by that point if the underlying query is a summarized data set.
  • Double Clicking on a data point in a Treemap chart will link you to a record detail screen if the dimension field is a hyperlink field.


Here are several important Axiom Chart terms: 

  • Series: A set of data displayed on a chart, consisting of a dimension field and a measure field from a query result.
  • Dimension Field or "Dimension": Like X in a traditional graph. It is the set of buckets or categories into which your data is broken down. In the above example, 'Primary Development Role' is the Dimension field.
  • Measure Field or "Measure:" Like Y in a traditional graph, it is the numeric quantity that you are measuring along or within the dimension. In the above example, 'Total Giving' is the Measure Field, displaying the total giving amount for each dimension value.

Chart Type Best Practices

Building charts is all about displaying comparisons visually. Choosing the right Chart for the dataset in question is a large part of this process. This section describes what each of the chart types is most useful at portraying, and additional information on each of the series types within those charts.


A Cartesian chart is used for data that can be represented along an X and Y axis, and is our categorical and time series chart. Cartesian charts are useful in that people are better at comparing two heights when we are able to see both of them at the same time. The Cartesian chart draws its name and a large amount of how it functions from the cartesian coordinate system which allows users to easily place the information based on placement along these axes. Typically, the category will be a Value List field (Donor role or Grade Level, for example), but it can be any non-numeric field. Time can also be represented as discrete categories when building a Time Series Cartesian chart. A list of different types of cartesian charts available and how they are typically used is as follows:

  • Line: Used for illustrating trends
  • Step Line: Used for illustrating trends with changes happening at specific points
  • Spline: Used for drawing curved lines between points in a data set
  • Area: Used for showing multiple datasets when illustrating how each of the datasets add up to a whole
  • Step Area: Used for showing multiple datasets when illustrating how each of the data sets add up to a whole, while illustrating changes happening at specific points
  • Spline Area: Used for showing multiple data sets and illustrating them as curved lines when illustrating how each of the data sets add up to a whole
  • Bar/Column: Used to show (preferably large) comparisons between various data categories
  • Jump Line: Similar to the step line, this is a different visualization that is best used to illustrate trends in data when looking at specific points
  • Marker: Similar to a line chart, this illustrates points of data without the connecting lines
  • Drop Line: Used to clearly illustrate x-axis values and how they connect to data points


A scatterplot chart is similar to a cartesian chart as it is measured along an X and Y axis, however, where it differentiates is it is specifically designed to show correlations between them, as in, how one axis's value directly affects the other axis's value. These measures must be numeric. There also exists the option to add a third variable. A list of different types of scatterplot charts available and how they are typically used is as follows:

  • Marker: Used to illustrate comparison between two numeric values.
  • Bubble: Used to illustrate comparison between three variables instead of two, with the size of the bubble representing a z-axis comparison.

Single Series

A single series chart is used to show comparative proportional data to a collective whole. It is important to note that it is not a viable chart option to show over a period of time or when there are negative values involved. The optimal number of different segments to use in a Single Series chart is less than seven. When the values determining the segment size are too close in value, it is also difficult to differentiate which segments are larger or smaller. A list of different types of single series charts available and how they are typically used is as follows:

  • Pie: Used to show the composition of a total. If possible, the number of categories should be limited to seven.
  • Donut: Similar to a Pie chart.
  • Pyramid: Used to show a hierarchal and connected relationship between different categories.
  • Funnel: Used to show the progressive decrease of numerical value over a set of stages.


A treemap chart is used to display data as a set of nested rectangles within a larger rectangle designed to show values relative to one another. In addition to the size of the rectangle, the color also can be used to demonstrate a different value. The best use cases for a treemap chart are situations in which the chart creator needs to demonstrate a varied pool of hierarchal data within a confined space.  Click here for Axiom Charts technical documentation.