Bullet Charts in SQL Server Reporting Services 2008 R2: ‘How To’ Video

Recently someone told me that they were struggling to produce a Stephen Few inspired bullet chart using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2. This is perfectly understandable, because, for some reason, bullet charts are considered a ‘gauge’ in Reporting Services. This is ironic because, if you’ve read Stephen Few’s material, then you will already be aware that bullet charts were designed to be more meaningful in displaying data than gauges and pie charts.
In order to help individuals to produce bullet charts rather than gauges in SQL Server Reporting Services 2008 R2, I’ve produced a quick video which I hope will help. Before we dive into the video, let’s have a look at the end result:
Bullet Graph Video Result
The purpose of this chart is simply an example, which shows the sales data for David Hume and John Napier. The sales ‘target’ is the little vertical line that you see in both charts. So, for David, the line is set at 75%, and for John, the target is set at 70%.
The ‘actual’ sales is represented by the thick blue horizontal line. So, for David, he sold 80% possible sales. John, on the other hand, sold 100% possible sales.
The bullet chart is nice simply because it allows you to quickly compare target values with actual values, and it also allows you to quickly look down and compare ‘between’ values as well. Here, it is quite easy to compare David’s actual and target sales with John’s actual and target sales.  Bullet charts take up less room and express meaningful information, so we can compress more information into a given space than we would get from a gauge.
Normally, in a bullet chart, you may consider removing the percentages or other values along the quantitative scale. However, in order to try and be as clear as possible, I have left them in.
I hope you enjoy the video, which I’ve placed on YouTube and you may also see here:

I look forward to your comments.

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