Google has long provided an API for automating Google Analytics, but it required developers to jump through a few more hoops than many would like. Yesterday, the company announced its Easy Dashboard Library, which should let developers speed up custom-tailored dashboards and reports.

Prior to the library, getting things out of the Google Analytics API wasn't a trivial process. According to the post announcing the feature, developers had to learn the API, then figure out how to handle authorization, and then meld the data with another visualization library. Fun for some developers, but definitely not speedy. And when has management ever said "we'd really like a better dashboard for our Web traffic, but take as long as you like to come up with it"? Right, so something better was obviously needed.

The Easy Dashboard Library

Google worked with students at the University of California, Irvine to come up with something better. The Easy Dashboard Library has three basic steps: Set up API access with an OAuth 2.0 client ID; copy and paste some code; and configure the code to query data and select your chart type.

The post from Google demonstrates how to create a quick-and-dirty chart for pageviews, visits and visitors over the last 30 days. You can test out a demo on Google Code, where the library lives.

Developers have the option of using line, bar, pie, table or column charts. The demo shows a pretty simple query, but developers can set queries using all kinds of dimensions and metrics supported by the Core Reporting API. It looks like developers can also use the data with another chart API if they prefer.

If you still don't think it's quite easy enough to use or would like to see additional features, you may be in luck. Google is planning to work with another group of students at the university for the next three quarters. The main goal is simplifying the library, but Google is also encouraging feedback via the Google Group for the Easy Dashboard Library.

Given the prevalence of Google Analytics, this should be good news for a lot of developers. It should also make custom dashboards more accessible even to more casual users, who might not have been eager to spend the time needed to get up to speed with the Analytics API but can ramp up pretty quickly with the Easy Dashboard Library. If you've taken a stab at using it, or have any recommendations for working with Analytics data, let us know in the comments.