Quite often developers need to plot various data. They expect to use a light control with minimal dependencies.
NTGraph control is a powerful ActiveX control which plots multiple data sets. Unfortunately it depends on MFC libraries.
This new 2D Graph ActiveX control, named DMGraph, is based on the NTGraph drawing engine but eliminates the MFC dependency. For DMGraph, ATL 3.0 was used as the framework. The only dependencies are some MS Windows DLLs (the C runtime library msvcrt.dll is part of the OS starting with Windows 2000). This means there are no deployment issues - DMGraph works on Windows 2000 or later.
Another major change compared with old
NTGraphCtrl is the exposed COM interface architecture. Instead of putting everything together under one interface,
DMGraphCtrl exposes a hierarchy of interfaces which represents entities used on drawing.
Using the code
The main interface
IDMGraphCtrl contains collections of items (managed by the
IDMGraphCollection interface). This collection interface exposes the usual methods (such as
Item). What is specific is the concept of "selected item". One item in the collection can be the "selected" one. Sometimes user operations (such as mouse drag) apply to the "selected" item (if any). The
IDMGraphCollection::Selected property gets/sets the index of the selected item.
When the user double clicks the graph area, a modal dialog with property pages is displayed. This dialog may be invoked programmatically as well using the
ShowProperties method. Modifying data in these property pages has an immediate effect on the displayed graph.
CDMGraphCtrl class implements the
IDMGraphCtrl interface. At runtime, some properties can be viewed or changed using the DM Graph property page:
CDMGraphCtrl class keeps the following collections exposed by the
1. Element collection
get_Elements property exposes the elements collection.
Each item is an instance of the
CGraphElement class which exposes the
IDMGraphElement interface. A graph element is a collection of points which need to be plotted. The graph element has various properties which define its drawing style. For example, the
Linetype property defines what kind of line should be used to connect the points (including "Null" - no lines at all). Color, width, shape can be set for points; the entire set of points can be enabled/disabled for drawing, etc. Each graph element is identified by a "name". All these are accessible through COM properties exposed by the
IDMGraphElement interface. When such a property is set, the entire graph is re-drawn to reflect the changes.
The set of points (data to be plotted) is supplied by the client using several methods:
Plot - two one-dimensional arrays with same size (one for X, the other for Y) will set the entire point collection for a specific graph element.
PlotXY - appends just one point to the point collection (both X and Y coordinates are specified).
PlotY - appends just one point to the point collection (only Y is specified, the X is the index of the added point in the points collection).
Each time the point collection is modified, the graph is updated to reflect the changes but the range is not updated. If the new point(s) go(es) out of range, then the
AutoRange methods need to be called.
New elements can be added to the collection, existing ones removed, selected element index can be changed, and selected element properties can be viewed/changed from the Elements property page.
2. Annotation collection
get_Annotations property exposes the annotations collection.
One annotation is a piece of text which is displayed on a specific position on the graph. This collection keeps instances of the
CGraphAnnotation class which exposes the
IDMGraphAnnotation interface. Using this interface various properties can be accessed - such as caption (the displayed text), position, color, text orientation, background enable/disable. When such a property is set, the entire graph is re-drawn to reflect the changes.
New annotations can be added to the collection, existing ones removed, selected annotation index can be changed, and selected annotation properties can be viewed/changed from the Annotations property page.
3. Cursor collection
get_Cursors property exposes the cursors collection.
A cursor is made of one or two lines which are parallel with the X or Y axis. The
IDMGraphCursor interface deals with cursor specific properties. If the
Style property (type is the
Crosshair enum) is set to "XY" then the cursor will have two lines: one parallel with X axis and the other parallel with Y axis. If the cursor
Mode is set to
Snap, then the selected cursor will snap to the closest point of the selected graph element during mouse drag.
New cursors can be added to a collection, existing ones removed, selected cursor index can be changed, and selected cursor properties can be viewed/changed from the Cursors property page.
4. Axis objects
Two objects are exposed by the
get_Axis property: one for X (horizontal) axis and the other for Y (vertical) axis. The objects are instances of the
CGraphAxis class which exposes the
IDMGraphAxis interface. Various properties can be get/set for each axis. If the
put_Time property is set to
VARIANT_TRUE, then the double values for that axis are considered to be date/time values. These values are interpreted like the
DATE type (used in OLE Automation
VARIANT union). The values are displayed according to the format string set by the
Format property. For date/time, possible format strings are documented in the
strftime function in MSDN. Otherwise, for non logarithmic axis, the usual
sprintf format strings are accepted. Some axis properties are available in the DM Graph property sheet (see above) while others are available in the Format property page (see below).
From the Axis combo box, the X (bottom) or Y (left) axis can be selected. Then the data type can be set for the selected axis. For each type, the Templates list box is filled with the available format templates. When a template item is selected from the left, the Format string on the right is updated.
1. From a Windows client written in C++ with ATL
class CMainWnd : public CWindowImpl<CMainWnd>
LRESULT CMainWnd::OnCreate(UINT uMsg, WPARAM wParam, LPARAM lParam, BOOL& bHandled)
m_pGraphCtrl = new CAxWindow;
if(m_pGraphCtrl == NULL)
hr = m_pGraphCtrl->QueryHost(IID_IAxWinHostWindow, (void**)&spHost);
Message(hr, NULL, L"Cannot query Ax host");
hr = spHost->CreateControl(L"DMGraph.DMGraphCtrl", m_pGraphCtrl->m_hWnd, NULL);
Message(hr, NULL, L"Cannot start DM Graph control");
hr = m_pGraphCtrl->QueryControl(IID_IDMGraphCtrl, (void**)&m_spDMGraph);
if(FAILED(hr) || m_spDMGraph == NULL)
Message(hr, NULL, L"Cannot query DM Graph control");
void CMainWnd::SetGraphData(VARIANT* pvarrX, VARIANT* pvarrY, LPCTSTR szName)
HRESULT hr = m_spDMGraph->get_Elements(&spElements);
long i, nElementCount = 0;
BOOL bReplace = FALSE;
hr = spElements->get_Count(&nElementCount);
for(i=0; i<nElementCount; i++)
hr = spElements->get_Item(i, &spDispatch);
hr = spDispatch.QueryInterface(&spGraphElement);
if(_wcsicmp(bsElemName, bsName) == 0)
L"There is ALREADY an element named '%s'.\n"
L"Do you want to replace it ?", bsElemName);
if(::MessageBoxW(m_hWnd, szMsgText, NULL,
MB_YESNO|MB_ICONQUESTION) != IDYES)
bReplace = TRUE;
spGraphElement = NULL;
if(bReplace == FALSE || spGraphElement == NULL)
hr = spElements->Add(&spDispatch);
spGraphElement = NULL;
hr = spDispatch.QueryInterface(&spGraphElement);
hr = spGraphElement->put_Name(bsName);
hr = spGraphElement->put_PointSymbol( Dots );
hr = spGraphElement->put_PointSize(3);
hr = spGraphElement->Plot(*pvarrX, *pvarrY);
Message(hr, spGraphElement, L"Failed to plot items");
hr = m_spDMGraph->AutoRange();
2. From an HTML page using VBScript
Inside the HTML body, the ActiveX is created using the
object tag. A button click will execute a script to set the data to be plotted.
width=600 height=400 VIEWASTEXT></object>
<input id=BtnSin value=sin type="button">
<script id=clientEventHandlersVBS language="vbscript">
On Error Resume Next
Set dmGraphCtrl = document.getElementById("DMGraphCtrl")
Dim idx : idx = dmGraphCtrl.Elements.Selected
If idx < 0 Then
MsgBox("Error: please create and select an element first." &_
vbCrLf & "(Double click to see property pages)")
Set selElement = dmGraphCtrl.Elements.Item(idx)
For i=0 To 100
x(i) = i/5
y(i) = Sin( x(i) )
selElement.Plot x, y
If Err.number <> 0 Then
3. From a Windows client written in C++ with MFC
#import "..\DMGraph\DMGraph.tlb" no_namespace raw_interfaces_only
class CDmGraphMfcClientDlg : public CDialog
... ... ...
... ... ...
CWnd* pwndCtrl = GetDlgItem(IDC_DMGRAPHCTRL1);
IUnknown* pUnkCtrl = pwndCtrl->GetControlUnknown();
m_spGraph = pUnkCtrl;
hr = m_spGraph->get_Elements(&colElements);
hr = colElements->Add(&spDisp);
spElem = spDisp;
hr = spElem->put_Name(_bstr_t("sin"));
hr = spElem->put_PointSymbol( Dots );
hr = spElem->put_PointSize(1);
hr = spElem->put_PointColor( RGB(255, 0, 0) );
COleSafeArray arrx, arry;
for(i=0; i<100; i++)
double x, y;
x = i/10.;
y = sin(x);
hr = spElem->Plot(COleVariant(arrx), COleVariant(arry));
hr = m_spGraph->AutoRange();
return TRUE; }
Points of interest
- The "
sprintf" code which formats the input data needs to be guarded against exceptions.
WM_ERASEBKGND needs to be handled to avoid window flickering while resizing.
VARIANT passed by a VBScript client usually needs indirection for contained safe array and conversion for array elements.
- Version 18.104.22.168
- Corrected a registration error (wrong LIBID was used inside CLSID key)
- Added the "control" flag for the type library (as attribute in IDL). In this way DMGraph is listed as an ActiveX in Visual Basic Component Control List / Excel Control Toolbox
- Changed the DrawGraphOffScreen function to behave properly even if the supplied HDC is a metafile DC. This is useful when COM client invokes IDataObject::GetData method. The ATL implementation for this method uses a metafile DC.
- Version 22.214.171.124
- Added UI in DM Graph property page to allow grid step changes.
- Version 126.96.36.199
- Fixed a minor defect which raised an Assert in the 'Debug build' when the ActiveX was not in place active (example: when inserted into a dialog by the C++ resource editor).
- Updated help file with MFC client sample code.
- Version 5.0
- MFC dependency is removed; the old .OCX library is now a .DLL using ATL. The DLL depends only on standard Windows libraries and on the standard C++ library (msvcrt.dll) which is part of the OS starting with Windows 2000. This means there are no deployment issues.
- Major re-design in exposed COM interfaces. More interfaces were added. They group together methods and properties which apply to the same kind of objects. As a consequence, there is no backward compatibility with the COM exposed by the old NTGraphCtrl.ocx. Hence all GUIDs and ProgIDs are new.
- The new DLL exposes dual interfaces (as opposed with the old dispinterfaces).
- Fixed GDI and memory leaks when printing.
- Added new API to pass an array of points using just one method call.
- Added selective zoom (zoom just on X or just on Y).
- Added a new tracking mode which displays in a tooltip the value of the closest point near the mouse.
- Printing uses the new OS Print Wizard dialog.
- Documentation (help) is presented in CHM format.