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Reworked Empty Chart State to replace "Unable to display chart" in Dashboards

Kyle Chipman
Kyle Chipman Overachievers

I would like to see a rework of the "Unable to display chart" prompt in the Charts widget.

I am building a series of dashboards using Grouped and Summarized reports as the source data for charts, pulling basic counts across multiple sheets. These reports are counting open and overdue tasks, the goal being that they'll be empty more often than populated as team members close out task statuses.

Unfortunately, when reports that power graphs are empty, the graph widget defaults to a visually intense warning more akin to an error than an expected empty state (red-ish hue, warning ! symbol, "ask an Admin..." prompt). See screenshot below for reference.

I understand that a workaround is to create a dummy row to populate the report with some kind of data, so it's showing 0 rather than a null value. I've gone that route in this circumstance, but the "Unable to chart data" experience has cropped up a number of other times building out dashboards, and I can't always anticipate or build out dummy rows to accommodate.

For anyone curious, going the dummy-row-for-a-0-count route looks like the example below:

I'm not looking for a significant functionality shift (reworking the ways counts are handled). I'm requesting a less intense visual prompt when there's no data to display. Or, even better, a custom user-defined prompt, so that org-appropriate language can be used to describe what's happening.

I looked elsewhere in the community but could only find asked and answered questions, not a wishlist submission, though someone in those posts flagged this "Results are empty" visual in an existing template. This visual is in the spirit of the request - a neutral visual statement as opposed to misplaced Error-centric visual dominance. Not sure if I'm overlooking some simple method of implementing this visual in place of "Unable to display chart data".



Quick update - one more frustrating wrinkle to this dummy-row-for-a-0-count strategy I forgot about; the Blank counts will still appear alongside your other defined groups, leaving an ugly empty lane in the chart. This further emphasizes a need to rework this empty source data challenge with charts.

5 votes

Idea Submitted · Last Updated


  • Kyle Chipman
    Kyle Chipman Overachievers

    It might be lame to reply to one's own post, but a brief update:

    The "Results are empty" screenshot above appears specifically for reports with no matching returns. Found it in another dashboard I'm building out, forgot it was specific to reports.

  • Cathy Fraser
    Cathy Fraser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited 09/03/23

    Hi Kyle,

    Did you come across a solution for the above besides the 0 data entry?



  • Kyle Chipman
    Kyle Chipman Overachievers
    edited 09/04/23

    @Cathy Fraser unfortunately, you're going to need to prepare your reports (which is to say, a sheet that drives the report summary counts) to anticipate blank values.

    In the screenshot below, you'll see the sheet, report and resulting widget. I have all the columns and conditions prepped so that there will always be a "0" count for Blank values. You'll need to work out your own structure's requirements on your own.

    Out of curiosity, will you be at Engage? I'm pretty tapped right now, but if you're coming to the conference we could connect and review there.

  • When a chart is based on a report where there is no data to display, two reasons exist.

    1) the report could be showing exceptions such as "Errors by type" in a process. If there are no errors then the message that displays is misleading - I don't want a different range, I want a "There is no data to display for this chart" message, with the chart title "Errors by Type" retained so viewers know what the chart is intending to show. Or if I could customize the message that would be great.

    2) The source data could have an error - something changed in the sheet or filters, for example. If I look at a dashboard that I built for someone a month ago and there is this type of error, all I see is the below data and have lost the link to what the data source was, which causes a lot of searching and guesswork. The ideal state would be that the chart title remains, and that when I edit it, I see where it was initially pointed so I can troubleshoot quickly