Charting Components / Reporting Services

It never fails to amaze me how many .NET/COM charting components are available - it must be a very crowded, or very lucrative, marketplace. Possibly both, given the prices at which these things sell. I had half-expected VS2005 to include a built-in charting component - after all, it includes Treeview, SiteMapPath and Menu controls, similar ideas to which have all been available from third parties in the past.

Anyway, just when I thought I had used or trialled every charting component in the known universe, Scoble brought my attention to yet another - Graphics Server .NET. These guys aren't marketing themselves aggressively enough, which is unfortunate as this is by far the most pleasant component I've used for a long time - dragging the individual elements of a chart into place is so much better than having to rely on trial and error as you set and reset layout properties until they're pixel perfect. I just wish a license wasn't $899 - that might be perfectly reasonable for the enterprise, but I'm on the lookout for a cheap charting component for a personal project, and as yet have been unable to find one.

Also today I've been experimenting with SQL Server Reporting Services, which itself allows for the creation of charts within its reports. Since an RS report can easily be embedded in a webpage (using the supplied ReportViewer server control), what is to stop someone using an RS report containing a single chart where previously they would have required a third-party .NET charting component?  OK, the appearance might not be quite the same as using a charting component which outputs a PNG or GIF direct onto a webpage, but for a large proportion of business reporting solutions I suspect the end result would be more or less the same - the business get to see a graphical representation of their data. It will be interesting to see whether the number of .NET charting components on the market shrinks in the coming years as RS takes a hold in the enterprise.