In this article, you will learn about an extension class named "MSChart Extension" that is created to extend functionality of MSChart control in Visual Studio for WinForms applications.
Also available in NuGet and GitHub.
MSChart Extension had been updated to Version 2.2.0. New features are described in the following articles:
This article describes an extension class named "MSChart Extension" which is created to extend functionality of Microsoft Chart (MSChart) control in Visual Studio for WinForms applications.
Microsoft Chart (MSChart) in Visual Studio is a great Windows Forms (WinForms) control to create chart for a standalone application. However, there are several features that could be added and improved to make this control more user friendly.
Zooming and panning are two common features for chart when dealing with large amount of data. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to have these two features enabled with MSChart. Although there is a built in Zoom control, it is not very user friendly which is described below. On the other hand, panning is not available. I searched around the web but didn't find any reliable solutions.
I tried to implement these two features in MSChart by writing custom codes and YES, it is possible. Instead of copying and pasting the same piece of code over and over again to every single project that I need, I created this MSChart Extension class which put all these additional features in a separated assembly which can be simply added as reference when needed.
- Fast Clear Data
- Windowed Zoom in and Zoom Out
- Show / hide series
Fast Clear Data
MSChart has a known problem which impacts most of the users which is the speed of clearing data points. This become worst when dealing with large amount of data. Workaround for this solution had been published by Microsoft and users around the web to fix this problem. (original link)
An extension method of this function is implemented in MSChart extension as below:
internal static class MSChartExtension
public static void ClearPoints(this Series sender)
while (sender.Points.Count > 0)
sender.Points.RemoveAt(sender.Points.Count - 1);
Note 1: I added one additional line
Points.Clear() at the end of the function to ensure the chart axis updated correctly on next plot. Without adding this line, I observed that previous axis settings will be used when plotting new data points right after calling
To use this feature, one just needs to call
ClearPoints() from chart series.
This is an improvement version of zoom control with zoom out (full view) instead of using built in zoom control in MSChart. The main reason for recreating this feature is because zooming out is really a pain where you need to zoom out each axis separately by clicking a button on the axis by number of times that I zoomed in. Moreover, the built in controls do not seems to works well with annotations.
Notes: Zoom out function is available in pop up menu when chart is zoomed.
Panning allowed user to move zoomed window using mouse. This is much better than moving the horizontal and vertical scroll bar.
Show / Hide Series
Sometimes, it is necessary to plot chart with multiple series for data comparison. However, it would not be easy to visualize the data for each individual series when we have multiple series overlapping each other. Show and hide series function provides a flexibility to hide each series as you wish. MSChart extension will automatically detect number of series used in chart, no setup is required to use this feature. Each series can be hide / show from context menu.
Annotations (Version 1.2.0)
Extensions methods to create chart annotations are added in Version 1.2.0 as below:
The standard way to add an annotation to MSChart in run-time is create an annotation object and add it to the annotation list of the chart. Adding one annotation normally involves several lines of codes as we need to overwrite some of those default properties in order to show the annotation correctly in the chart.
With the extension methods provided above, adding annotation can be easily done in a single function call. Colors, line weight, line style and position are exposed as input parameters.
Functions listed above are just few of the commonly used annotation type. You may create a similar function for other types of annotation using the similar methods.
NOTE: Please note that these functions are created to add annotation to first chart area with primary axis.
Codes below show an example of adding horizontal line to chart.
IsInfinite are properties that we need to overwrite its default values.
YAxisName are hidden properties which is not visible in IntelliSense.
Custom annotation name should only be assigned after annotation was added to annotation list. This is because the
Name property will be overwrite with auto generated value when adding the object to annotation list.
public static void DrawHorizontalLine(this Chart sender, double y,
Drawing.Color lineColor, string name = "",
int lineWidth = 1, ChartDashStyle lineStyle = ChartDashStyle.Solid)
HorizontalLineAnnotation horzLine = new HorizontalLineAnnotation();
string chartAreaName = sender.ChartAreas.Name;
horzLine.ClipToChartArea = chartAreaName;
horzLine.AxisXName = chartAreaName + "\\rX";
horzLine.YAxisName = chartAreaName + "\\rY";
horzLine.IsInfinitive = true;
horzLine.IsSizeAlwaysRelative = false;
horzLine.Y = y;
horzLine.LineColor = lineColor;
horzLine.LineWidth = lineWidth;
horzLine.LineDashStyle = lineStyle;
if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(name)) horzLine.Name = name;
Using the Code
To use this extension package, simply add MSChart assembly to reference of the project. Additional features and dedicated context menu can be enabled by the following function call.
private void AttachChartControl()
private void ChartCursorSelected(double x, double y)
txtChartSelect.Text = x.ToString("F4") + ", " + y.ToString("F4");
private void ChartCursorMoved(double x, double y)
txtChartValue.Text = x.ToString("F4") + ", " + y.ToString("F4");
ChartCursorMoved are two optional callbacks to notify parent when chart coordinate changed.
ChartCursorSelected will be called when a point in chart area is selected whereas
ChartCursorMoved will trigger when mouse is move in chart area. x and y values in these two callbacks are values for X-Axis and Y-Axis. It is hard coded to use primary axis at this moment.
This operation is reversible by calling the following function:
MSChart Extension comes with a built in pop up menu which allows user to use features such as zoom and pan controls during run-time. All functions such as zoom, pan, select and series hide / show can be accessed from context menu. This context menu is shown when right click mouse in chart with Zoom and Pan controls enabled as shown above.
- Add option to select between primary / secondary axis for Select tool and callback functions.
- Append MSChart Extension's context menu to user defined context menu if exists.
- Implement 2 cursor to calculate different between 2 points.
- 3rd April, 2012: Initial release (Version 1.0.0)
- 4th April, 2012: (Update) Added callback function's description and Future improvement list
- 18th July, 2012: (Update) Added Annotation Functions (Version 1.2.0)
- 19th July, 2012: Fixed download package