Powershell Charting with MS Chart Controls

Richard MacDonald’s demonstrates using Microsoft Chart Controls with Powershell in his post, Charting with Powershell. The chart controls are free and work with standard Windows forms. Another nice thing is the ability data bind to any object that implements IEnumerable (arrays, hashes, data tables, etc.). This makes working with the charts particularly easy, just create a hashtable and bind it to the chart data series. Jeffery Snover provides us with a useful bit of code called ConvertTo-Hashtable which does what the name implies. Armed with this information, I thought it would interesting to take the concept of Powershell charting a few steps further and create a reusable charting library, called LibraryChart ***Updated 9/20/09*** available on Poshcode. The library implements several features including:
  • Pipe the output of a Powershell command to automatically create a chart.
  • Display the chart in a Windows Form
  • Save the chart to an image file
  • Specify either bar, column, line or pie chart types
  • Display real-time automatic updating charts by passing scriptblock to the function. The scriptblock will execute at the specified interval and display chart updates (think Perfmon)
  • Works with Powershell V1

To use the Library (Note: Requires .NET 3.5 framework):

Here are a few examples:

Create a column chart of process workingset information:

Get-Process | Sort-Object -Property WS | Select-Object Name,WS -Last 5  | out-chart -xField ‘name’ -yField ‘WS’

Save the chart to a file instead of displaying:

Get-Process | Sort-Object -Property WS | Select-Object Name,WS -Last 5 | out-chart -xField ‘name’ -yField ‘WS’ -filename ‘c:usersu00documentsprocess.png’

Get-Process | Sort-Object -Property WS | Select-Object Name,WS -Last 5  | out-chart -xField ‘name’ -yField ‘WS’ -chartType ‘Pie’

Produce a real-time line chart of process working set by passing a scriptblock i.e. the Powershell command between the two curly brackets. (Image note shown):

out-chart -xField ‘name’ -yField ‘WS’ -scriptBlock {Get-Process | Sort-Object -Property WS | Select-Object Name,WS -Last 1} -chartType ‘line’

I’m not entirely happy with the script (uses global variable, hash generation code repeated, pie and line chart appearance could be improved), so if anyone would like to take the charting library even further go for it!

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3 Responses to Powershell Charting with MS Chart Controls

  1. Hal says:

    FYI, I got this err when trying to create a chart, although it did work:Multiple ambiguous overloads found for "Add" and the argument count: "1".At C:\Documents and Settings\hxr8765\My Documents\WindowsPowerShell\lib\lib-LibraryChart.ps1:56 char:35+ [void]$global:Chart.Titles.Add <<<< ($chartTitle) + CategoryInfo : NotSpecified: (:) [], MethodException + FullyQualifiedErrorId : MethodCountCouldNotFindBest

  2. Ben says:

    On line 56 of the LibraryChart.ps1 lib file change this "[void]$global:Chart.Titles.Add($chartTitle)" to this "[void]$global:Chart.Titles.Add([string]$chartTitle)" then re-import the lib and run again. This fixes the ambiguous overload error on my machine.

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