[R] advice for alternative to barchart

kerfuffle pswi at ceh.ac.uk
Tue Mar 31 01:04:15 CEST 2009

hi folks,

I was wondering if anybody could give me some advice.  I've created a
stacked barchart, with 'car model' along the x axis, 'number of cars' along
the y axis.  There are 45 individuals involved, each of which can own any
number of cars, of any model (eg an individual could own two cars of one
model, and another car of a different model).  I've got a legend by the side
of the barchart which gives the name of the individual, which gives the
colour to identify which bars belong to which individuals.

The problem (as you've probably guessed) is that it's almost impossible to
have a distinctive legend for 45 individuals.  I can manage 30 distinctive
colors, but as soon as I use shaded lines the number of distinct colours
drops considerably because the legend boxes are so small.  This is true even
if I vary line density and angle.  Therefore, after a long period of
experimentation, I'm thinking of giving up on barchart.

What I have in mind now is a plot where each 'bar' is a single line, and the
top of each 'bar' is a symbol (+, *, etc).  I figure it should be possible
to find 45 different symbols.  Does anyone have any advice?  I'm sorry this
is so open-ended, but I've played with stripchart and dotplot without a lot
of joy.  I figure this can't be that uncommon a need (barchart with a
ridiculous number of groups), but I could well be wrong.  Is there some way
of altering the size of the legend boxes in the barchart?  Using symbols in
the barchart?  Some way of using, say, 30 blocks of colour, and 15 cases of
a dashed line?  

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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