My work is looking to create illustrations depicting our organisation's different processes and events occurring annually. I could create this in illustrator, but I would rather use some sort of specialised software to create this due to the need for updates every now and then (and to reduce the need for my help in creating them). Below is a sketch of what I'm looking for.

Is there any software to easily create this without requiring the need of a graphic designer? Or am I stuck with creating it in illustrator?

Sketch of yearly cycle


1 Answer 1


You can do this with excel, atleast if you approximate the design a bit. Excell is probably the only tool that a unspecified random crowd can be expected to be able to use.

The real problem is that the more easy to use, and the more mainstream you want to go the more you need to sacrafice out of your design.

Excel can be made quite faithfull to your idea but then youd need quite much work at the cost of usability and general understandability. The more you compromise the closer you get to the goal of ease of use. At the other end of the spectrum its easier just to illustrate this.

Quick excel demo

Image 1: Multilevel doughnut chart test quickly made in excel

Quite surprisingly the easiest software to do this in was when i tried was Autocad (or indeed any other parametric cad). Which the 3 random cad users found very easy to modify and i could get exactly your design in just 10 Mins. Hardly mainstream though.

To this end i would look for a software that can do geometric constraints based drawings i remember seeing one free soft of this kind.

The other option would be to make an app, mathematica or python + matplotlib come to mind. However im not so sure on easy to use this is. Certainly it could be made easy but thats a bit of work. I mean depending on users might be easier to learn Illustrator instead.

Test in mathematica

Image 2: A quick test in mathematica

Clobbering something together in python takes a few hours, but making it usable and distributable takes weeks. Consider web app with something like raphael.js. Easier to distribute.

  • Expanding on @joojaa. Google provide HTML and Data feed charts. If you're looking to make a little bit more than just a simple image. google-developers.appspot.com/chart/interactive/docs/gallery/… Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 13:12
  • Google Charts looks promising. I've never used it before, is it possible to stack two or more donut-graphs on top of each other to achieve the result in my sketch? Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 9:45
  • @PerEnström Atleast Excel can do multiple stacked doughnut charts. In anycase the api of google is openso it can be expanded if you wish. In anycase if you have access to mathematica its probebly the easiest tool to get this done with, IMHO.
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 9:55
  • @PerEnström Looked at your profile would you consider pstricks inside latex usable by others?
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 19:11
  • I've experimented a bit with Google Charts, but found that it wasn't suitable. I've also tried Highcharts now, which is much better suited. See example at jsfiddle.net/ajjczh86. I will continue with Highcharts I think and build a webapp around this. Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 14:18

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