Create a column chart with Highcharts

TL;DR: This page contains example code to get a grouped column chart working with Socrata Open Data APIs plus Highcharts, a javascript charting library. If you are looking for the code and want to get tinkering right away, you can visit this example’s jsFiddle page here.

Previously, we wrote about how to create a simple column chart with Michael Bostock’s d3. D3 is great for visualizing data but it can be quite complicated for some users.

Today, I want to share some simple sample code to create a grouped bar chart using Highcharts, a simpler (but still very customizable) alternative to d3.

For this example, I am going to use the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) Provider Summary for the Top 100 Diagnosis-Related Groups (DRG) - FY2012 dataset from the HHS/CMS (the United States Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) open data portal, Essentially, this dataset has up to 100 rows for each Medicare-participating hospital and their pricing, reimbursement, and discharge volume for the most common diagnosis groups.

Live Demo

The Code

Skeleton HTML you’ll need:

<!-- jQuery is required for this example -->
<script src=""></script>
<!-- Load Highcharts javascript -->
<script src=''></script>
<script src=''></script>

<!-- Set up HTML div where we'll place the chart -->
<div id="chart-container" style="width: 100%; height: 400px; margin: 20px auto"><!-- This space intentionally left blank --></div>

Javascript code to include on your page:

var dataDomain = ''
var dataSetId = 'xpsg-6hup'
var dataQueryString = [ // following SoQL format documented at
var chartTitle = 'Top 5 DRGs by Avg Medicare Payment'

$(document).ready(function () {
  $.get('https://'+dataDomain+'/resource/'+dataSetId+'.csv?'+dataQueryString, function (csv) {
    console.log("We got the following data back in CSV format", csv);
      chart: {
        type: 'column'
      data: {
        csv: csv,
      title: {
        text: chartTitle
      subtitle: {
        text: 'Source: https://'+dataDomain+'/d/'+dataSetId

Code Explanation

In the HTML snippet above, we:

  1. Include jQuery, Highcharts, and a Highcharts module’s Javascript code onto the page
  2. Set up a div with a unique ID (in this case chart-container) which we will later pass Highcharts as the desired destination of our chart

In the Javascript snippet, we:

  1. Set some configuration vairables including the domain the dataset lives on, the dataset’s unique ID (aka “four by four”), the query string, and finallyt the title for the chart.
  2. Inside jQuery’s .ready() callback, which is called once the HTML page and dependencies are fully loaded, we form a URL to query the dataset for the data we want and use the response to create the chart in the specified #chart-container div. You can learn more about how to create a chart using Highcharts and find links to their documentation here.

I hope this was helpful! I encourage you to tinker with this on your own page web page or fork the jsFiddle. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly via Twitter (skram) or through one of our support channels.

Have a great example of your own? Please contribute to our community-maintained documentation!