AnyChart JS Charts Used to Visualize Data on Ancient French Riddles

As global leaders in data visualization solutions, we feel it is part of our mission to support educational and research projects by granting their authors a free license to use our products. Les Énigmes de Mercure (The Riddles of Mercury) by Timothée Léchot from the University of Neuchâtel (UniNE) is one such initiative we are proud to back on non-commercial terms.

Recently, we had a quick talk with Timothée and asked him a few questions to learn more about his project and experience visualizing data with the AnyChart JS charting library. Read our quick interview below. (Stack: PHP/MySQL.)

Timothée Léchot: Hi, I am from Switzerland and work as a postdoc at the University of Neuchâtel. My research focuses on the history of French literature and media, with a particular interest in the eighteenth century.

TL: My project deals with literary games in the press of the Ancien Régime. Long before the invention of the crossword, readers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries played riddle games: newspapers published enigmatic poems — enigmas, logogriphs, and charades — that some readers composed and other readers tried to guess. What is special about these riddles is that they were almost always poetry.

Having realized that this minor literature was little studied and that it could still interest us, and even entertain us, I compiled a database of all the riddles published in the magazine Mercure galant (which later became Mercure de France) between 1672 and 1800. This collection contains nearly 7,000 riddles with their answers and data on their authors.

TL: Basically, Les Énigmes de Mercure consists of a website, which is now complete, allowing everyone to explore the database of the riddles and even play them, and scientific publications in the form of articles and text editions. The preparation of a short monograph is in progress.

TL: Data visualization helps to provide a more insightful statistical overview of this corpus of texts. It allows us to understand at a glance who the most prolific authors were, where they came from, as well as learn about their professions, the most frequent answers to the riddles, in which periods the most riddles appeared, and so on.

TL: I use AnyChart’s elegant word clouds to identify the most popular author names, the most frequent riddle answers, and the prevalent professions of the authors.

A donut chart allows me to show the proportion of each ludic literary genre within the corpus: enigma, logogriph, charade, chanson, sonnet, and others.

Each chart is interactive. The visitor can click on its elements to send a query to the database and consult the corresponding data set.

TL: My website and its search engine are written mainly in PHP and SQL.

Besides the AnyChart library, I use PDF.js, OpenLayers, and Chart.js. AnyChart and these other JavaScript libraries have all provided me with charts that are perfectly suited to my needs, both in terms of functionality and graphics.

TL: AnyChart is easy to configure and customize. The online documentation is clear and allows you to quickly obtain the desired charts. I got quick answers to questions I submitted by email.

TL: Well, I have not explored all capabilities of AnyChart yet, so I cannot answer this question exhaustively. From what I’ve experienced and needed so far creating my visualizations, all looks in place.

TL: I would emphasize that AnyChart offers a lot of options. Depending on the nature of the project, it alone is likely to cover all the needs of the developer in terms of data graphics, which therefore lets you avoid importing many different libraries.

If you want to share your AnyChart story, please let us know.

Originally published at on June 30, 2021.

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Cross-platform JavaScript/HTML5 data visualization solutions, flexible JS charts libraries & Qlik Sense extensions for all your dataviz needs: