Create a Win/Loss Chart with PlotKit: Conclusion

By Rob Gravelle

Welcome to the conclusion of the Create a Win/Loss Chart with PlotKit article. In that tutorial, we differentiated our Win/Loss chart from one in which the value of each column is either 1 or -1, where 1 denotes a win and -1 a loss. Ours more closely resembled a positive & negative bar chart, whereby each bar could have a different numeric value, but all extend from the zero axis.

To create our new chart type, we had to modify a few of the PlotKit .js files. So far, we've modified the Layout.js and Canvas.js files. Today, we're going to work in the SweetCanvas.js code. Finally, I'll show you how to dynamically calculate your own yTicks so that they cross the zero Y point.

The _renderWinLossChart() Method

This is arguably the most important method of all because it's where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. I included the entire method, although there are really only a few changes. The most notable one is the chooseColor() method; ours utilizes the appropriate color based on the selected color scheme for positive values and a reddish color for negative ones. I say reddish because the actual color is slightly darker than true red:

PlotKit.SweetCanvasRenderer.prototype._renderWinLossChart = function() {
  var bind = MochiKit.Base.bind;
  var shadowColor = Color.blackColor().colorWithAlpha(0.1).toRGBString();

  var prepareFakeShadow = function(context, x, y, w, h) {
      context.fillStyle = shadowColor;
      context.fillRect(x-2, y-2, w+4, h+2); 
      context.fillStyle = shadowColor;
      context.fillRect(x-1, y-1, w+2, h+1); 

  var colorCount = this.options.colorScheme.length;
  var colorScheme =  this.options.colorScheme;
  var setNames = PlotKit.Base.keys(this.layout.datasets);
  var setCount = setNames.length;
  var bars = this.layout.bars; 
  var chooseColor = function(name) { 
      return name == 'win' ? colorScheme[0] : Color.fromHexString('#CC0000'); 

  var drawRect = function(context, bar) {
      var x = this.area.w * bar.x + this.area.x;
      var y = this.area.h * bar.y + this.area.y;
      var w = this.area.w * bar.w;
      var h = this.area.h * bar.h;

      if ((w < 1) || (h < 1))


      context.shadowBlur = 5.0;
      context.shadowColor = Color.fromHexString("#888888").toRGBString();

      if (this.isIE) {
          context.fillStyle = "#cccccc";
          context.fillRect(x-2, y-2, w+4, h+2); 
      else {
          prepareFakeShadow(context, x, y, w, h);
      if (this.options.shouldFill) { 
          context.fillStyle = chooseColor(bar.name).toRGBString(); 
          context.fillRect(x, y, w, h); 

      context.shadowBlur = 0;
      context.strokeStyle = Color.whiteColor().toRGBString();
      context.lineWidth = 2.0;
      if (this.options.shouldStroke) {
          context.strokeRect(x, y, w, h);                


  this._renderBarChartWrap(this.layout.bars, bind(drawRect, this));

The _renderBackground() Method

Our chart style must be appended to the array literal that is passed to the findValue() method in order to be rendered:

PlotKit.SweetCanvasRenderer.prototype._renderBackground = function() {
    var context = this.element.getContext("2d");
    if (findValue(["bar","line","win/loss"], this.layout.style) > -1) {

A little further down in the same method, there is some extra code to draw the zero yTick in black and twice as thick as the others. While this is certainly not crucial to making the chart work, I like for the zero axis to stand out:

  for (var i = 0; i < ticks.length; i++) {
    var x1 = 0;
    var y1 = 0;
    var x2 = 0;
    var y2 = 0;
    //draw the zero yTick in black
    if (i > 0 && parseFloat(ticks[i][1].replace(/[^0-9-.]/g, '')) == 0.0) {
      context.strokeStyle = Color.blackColor().toRGBString();
      context.lineWidth   = 2.0;
    else {
      context.strokeStyle = this.options.axisLineColor.toRGBString();
      context.lineWidth   = 1.0;

Note that, in order for this code to take effect, you need to include a zero value in the layout.yticks array. It's OK to let PlotKit guestimate the yTicks for you, but you also need to adjust them so that one of them falls exactly on 0.0. First, add your dataset and call evaluate(). That will cause PlotKit to calculate the yTicks, whereby each point is represented by a two-dimensional array. The first value ranges from one to zero and tells the renderer where to draw the point on the Y axis. The second value is the numeric label value:

values = [[0, 2], [1, -3], [2, 6], [3, 3.6], [4, 5], [5, -2]];        
layout.addDataset("data", values);        

// update

//PlotKit calculates the following five yTick values:

Now our job is to iterate over each point and choose the closest one to zero. The difference between it and the zero point is stored:

var zeroVal = Math.abs(parseFloat(layout.yticks[0][1])), nextVal, diff;
for (var yTick=1; yTick < layout.yticks.length || nextVal >= zeroVal; yTick++) {
  nextVal = Math.abs(parseFloat(layout.yticks[yTick][1]));
  if (nextVal < zeroVal ) {
    diff    = 0 - parseFloat(layout.yticks[yTick][1]);
    zeroVal = nextVal;
  else {

The last step is to iterate through each yTick and move them by the difference that we calculated above:

for (var yTick=1; yTick < layout.yticks.length-1; yTick++) {
  layout.yticks[yTick][1] = (parseFloat(layout.yticks[yTick][1]) + diff).toFixed(layout.options.yTickPrecision);
  layout.yticks[yTick][0] -= diff * layout.yscale;


Here is the SweetCanvas.js file and here is the test html file. Substitute it, along with the Canvas.js and Layout.js files from the last article for the original PlotKit script files, bring up the html page in your browser, click on the "redraw" link, and you should see something like the following:

For a working demo visit my Stock Strategies Analysis Tool page. Enter a stock ticker symbol and options into the form, click the "Get Results" button, and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the chart.

If you enjoyed this article, please contribute to Rob's rock star aspirations by purchasing one of Rob's cover or original songs from iTunes.com for only 0.99 cents each.

Rob Gravelle resides in Ottawa, Canada, and is the founder of GravelleConsulting.com. Rob has built systems for Intelligence-related organizations such as Canada Border Services, CSIS as well as for numerous commercial businesses. Email Rob to receive a free estimate on your software project. Should you hire Rob and his firm, you'll receive 15% off for mentioning that you heard about it here!

In his spare time, Rob has become an accomplished guitar player, and has released several CDs. His former band, Ivory Knight, was rated as one Canada's top hard rock and metal groups by Brave Words magazine (issue #92).

Rob uses and recommends MochaHost, which provides Web Hosting at $3.10 per month, 2 LifeTime Free Domains, and 6 Months Free!

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