D3 Tips and Tricks v3.x
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D3 Tips and Tricks v3.x

Interactive Data Visualization in a Web Browser

About the Book

New version avaialble! Go here for the v7 edition!

D3.js can help you make data beautiful.

D3 Tips and Tricks is a book written to help those who may be unfamiliar with JavaScript or web page creation get started turning information into visualization.

Data is the new medium of choice for telling a story or presenting compelling information on the Internet and d3.js is an extraordinary framework for presentation of data on a web page.

What version of d3.js is this written for?

Version 3.x If you're looking for the version 4.x you can find it here...v5 is here!

Is this book for you?

It's not written for experts. It's put together as a guide to get you started if you're unsure what d3.js can do. It reads more like a story as it leads the reader through the basics of line graphs and on to discover animation, tooltips, tables, interfacing with MySQL databases via PHP, sankey diagrams, force diagrams, maps and more...

Why was D3 Tips and Tricks written?

Because in the process of learning things, it's a great way to remember them if you write them down :-).

As a result, learning how to do cool stuff with D3 meant that I accumulated a sizeable number ways to help me out when the going got tricky. Then I realised that these could be useful for others who were trying out d3.js and who were at a similar knowledge level.

So here we are! A collection of tips and tricks for d3.js written by a noob for people who might consider that they're in the same situation :-).

What's in the book?

I've captured the appropriate code (in cool looking coloured text) and added in heaps of illustrations of what's going on so that you will get more traction at the start of your learning process than I did.

But wait! There's code!

There are over 50 code examples that are used in the book (with their data files) available to download (still free!) and they are also available online.

The awesome that is Open Source.

Please consider this an opportunity for you to contribute back to the Open Source community that makes products like d3.js possible. If you find something that can be improved about the book or think there's something that can be added, just let me know!

The book has a lot of information in it, but there's still more to come. Currently (at time writing) it counts up to about 580 pages, so it's not a short read but I've tried to pitch it in sections so that if you find something interesting, you can read parts in isolation. There's a sizeable amount of content on the d3noob.org blog site from the book and hopefully between the two, people will find a way that will help them improve. I have a long list of additional material that I want to add, so I'm hoping that publishing using Leanpub will allow readers to get easy notification of when updates and improvements are made.

Download the whole book just to try it out!

I'm making the manual available for free because I think it's a great way to give something back to the community as a whole, but if you find some value in the book, please consider contributing 99 cents when you download it so that Leanpub get something for hosting the book and providing such an awesome service (50 cents is their flat cut of any book sales and $4.99 is the minimum (apart from $0) that they will allow for a sale).

(Don't be put off by the button at the top saying 'Buy the ebook now'. Once you click on it, you can select any price you want including $0!)


So I hope you get something out of the book, please excuse the sometimes light-hearted conversational manner in which I approach the topic and enjoy D3!

Kudos for D3 Tips and Tricks from



"Thanks, super helpful!" - Davo

"Thanks for the help (reading through your book now, and it's awesome!)" - Jared

"Thank you for doing this. I've been looking for something like this for a while." - Marla

"You have just inspired me to give Sankey a fresh new face in Dex" - Patrick

"Thank you - exactly what I was looking for explained clearly and succinctly" - Anon

"Much appreciated. Excellent tutorial" - Anon

"Thanks!! This help rocks" - greencracker

"Thx for book. It's awesome." - Michael Guimet

"Thank you !! :) very very thank you." - Nuri Lee

"Thanks for your work man, it inspired me to use in my research!" - napicool

Used as a teaching resource at;

  • The Dublin Institute of Technology for Data Visualization.
  • The University of Nebraska

About the Author

Malcolm Maclean
Malcolm Maclean

I have a passion for knowledge and I realise that part of the responsibility of gathering knowledge is being able to advance the state of the human condition in some way.

My aims using D3 and in writing this book were to play with software, achieve a personal goal and try something new for fun. It also helps that I think graphs and the visual representation of data rock in serious ways.

I don't have a formal coding background and I didn't learn JavaScript and then how to use D3. I learnt a little bit of JavaScript as a result of using D3, so the way I explain things is focussed on trying to impart that understanding in a simple but functional way.

I'm totally in awe of the Open Source community that has made this type of work possible, which is why you can download D3 Tips and Tricks for free.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@d3noob), I find it a great service to get alerted to what's going on with d3.js.

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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
    • Mike
    • Partners, Supporters and Contributors.
    • Proof Reading
    • The d3.js Community
    • Cover art
    • Leanpub
    • Make sure you get the most up to date copy of D3 Tips and Tricks
  • What is d3.js?
  • Introduction
  • What do you need to get started?
    • HTML
    • JavaScript
    • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
    • Web Servers
    • PHP
    • Other Useful Stuff
      • Text Editor
      • Getting D3
      • Where to get information on d3.js
        • d3js.org
        • Google Groups
        • Stack Overflow
        • Github
        • bl.ocks.org
        • Twitter
        • Books
  • Starting with a basic graph
    • HTML
    • CSS
    • D3 JavaScript
      • Setting up the margins and the graph area.
      • Getting the Data
      • Formatting the Date / Time.
      • Setting Scales Domains and Ranges
      • Setting up the Axes
      • Adding data to the line function
      • Adding the SVG Canvas.
      • Actually Drawing Something!
    • Wrap Up
  • Things you can do with the basic graph
    • Adding Axis Labels
    • How to add a title to your graph
    • Smoothing out graph lines
    • Adding grid lines to a graph
      • The grid line CSS
      • Define the grid line functions
      • Draw the lines
    • Make a dashed line
    • Filling an area under the graph
      • CSS for an area fill
      • Define the area function
      • Draw the area
      • Filling an area above the line
    • Adding a drop shadow to allow text to stand out on graphics.
      • CSS for white shadowy background
      • Drawing the white shadowy background.
    • Adding more than one line to a graph
    • Labelling multiple lines on a graph
    • Multiple axes for a graph
    • How to rotate the text labels for the x Axis.
    • Format a date / time axis with specified values
    • Update data dynamically - On Click
      • Adding a Button
      • Updating the data
      • Changes to the d3.js code layout
      • What’s happening in the code?
    • Update data dynamically – Automatically
  • Elements, Attributes and Styles
    • The Framework
    • Elements
      • Circle
      • Ellipse
      • Rectangle
      • Line
      • Polyline
      • Polygon
      • Path
      • Clipped Path (AKA clipPath)
      • Text
        • Anchor at the bottom, middle of the text:
        • Anchor at the bottom, right of the text:
        • Anchor at the middle, left of the text:
        • Anchor in the middle, centre of the text:
        • Anchor in the middle, right of the text:
        • Anchor at the top, left of the text:
        • Anchor at the top, middle of the text:
        • Anchor at the top, right of the text:
    • Attributes
      • x, y
      • x1, x2, y1, y2
      • points
      • cx, cy
      • r
      • rx, ry
      • transform (translate(x,y), scale(k), rotate(a))
        • transform (translate(x,y))
        • transform (scale(k))
        • transform (rotate(a))
      • width, height
      • text-anchor
      • dx, dy
      • textLength
      • lengthAdjust
    • Styles
      • fill
      • stroke
      • opacity
      • fill-opacity
      • stroke-opacity
      • stroke-width
      • stroke-dasharray
      • stroke-linecap
      • stroke-linejoin
      • writing-mode
      • glyph-orientation-vertical
      • Using styles in Cascading Style Sheets
  • Assorted Tips and Tricks
    • Change a line chart into a scatter plot
    • Adding tooltips.
      • Transitions
      • Events
      • Get tipping
      • on.mouseover
      • on.mouseout
      • Including an HTML link in a tool tip
        • Moar Links!
    • What are the predefined, named colours?
    • Selecting / filtering a subset of objects
    • Select items with an IF statement.
    • Applying a colour gradient to a line based on value.
    • Applying a colour gradient to an area fill.
    • Show / hide an element by clicking on another element
        • The code
    • Export an image from a d3.js page as a SVG or bitmap
      • Bitmaps
      • Vector Graphics (Specifically SVG)
      • Let’s get exporting!
        • Copying the image off the web page
        • Open the SVG Image and Edit
        • Saving as a bitmap
    • Using HTML inputs with d3.js
      • What is an HTML input?
      • Using a range input with d3.js
        • The code
        • The explanation
      • Using more than one input
        • The code
        • The explanation
      • Rotate text with an input
        • The explanation
      • Use a number input with d3.js
      • Change more than one element with an input
        • The code
        • The explanation
    • Add an HTML table to your graph
      • HTML Tables
      • First the CSS
      • Now the d3.js code
      • A small but cunning change…
      • Explaining the d3.js code (reloaded).
      • Wrap up
    • More table madness: sorting, prettifying and adding columns
      • Add another column of information:
      • Sorting on a column
      • Prettifying (actually just capitalising the header for each column)
      • Add borders
    • Adding web links to d3.js objects
      • It’s all about the ‘a’ and the ‘xlink’
      • Adding in the links
      • Making the mouse pointer ignore an object
    • Understanding JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)
    • Using the Yahoo Query Language (YQL) to get data.
      • YQL by example
    • Using Plunker for development and hosting your D3 creations.
  • Bar Charts
    • The data
    • The code
    • The bar chart explained
  • Tree Diagrams
    • What is a Tree Diagram?
    • A simple Tree Diagram explained
    • Styling nodes in a tree diagram
      • Changing the nodes to different shapes
      • Using images as nodes
    • Making a vertical tree diagram
    • Generating a tree diagram from ‘flat’ data
    • Generating a tree diagram from external data
    • Generating a tree diagram from a CSV file.
    • An interactive tree diagram
  • Force Layout Diagrams
    • What is a Force Layout Diagram?
    • Force directed graph examples.
      • Basic force directed graph showing directionality
      • Directional Force Layout Diagram (Node Highlighting)
      • Directional Force Layout Diagram (varying link opacity)
      • Directional Force Layout Diagram (Unique Node Colour)
  • Bullet Charts
    • Introduction to bullet chart structure
    • D3.js code for bullet charts
    • Adapting and changing bullet chart components
      • Understand your data
      • Add as many individual charts as you want.
      • Add more ranges and measures
      • Updating a bullet chart automatically
  • Mapping with d3.js
    • Examples
    • GeoJSON and TopoJSON
    • Starting with a simple map
      • center
      • scale
      • rotate
    • Zooming and panning a map
    • Displaying points on a map
    • Making maps with d3.js and leaflet.js combined
      • leaflet.js Overview
      • Leaflet map with d3.js objects that scale with the map
      • Leaflet map with d3.js elements that are overlaid on a map
  • D3.js Examples Explained
    • Dynamically retrieve historical stock records via YQL
      • Purpose
      • The code
      • The description
    • Linux Processes via Interactive Tree diagram
      • Purpose
      • The Code
      • Description
    • Multi-line graph with automatic legend and toggling show / hide lines.
      • Purpose
      • The Code
      • Description
        • Nesting the data
        • Applying the colours
        • Adding the legend
        • Making it interactive
    • My Favourite tooltip method for a line graph.
      • Purpose
      • The Code
      • Description
        • Adding the circle to the graph
        • Set the area to capture the mouse movements
        • Determining which date will be highlighted
        • Move the circle to the appropriate position
      • Complex version
        • Code / Explanation
    • Exploring Event Data by Combination Scatter Plot and Interactive Line Graphs
      • Purpose
      • The Code
        • Wrangling the data
        • Sizing Everything Up
        • The Scatter Plot
        • Date and Time Graphs
        • Mouse Movement Information Display
        • Labelling
    • Difference Chart: Science vs Style.
      • Purpose
      • The Code
      • Description
        • Nesting the data
        • Wrangle the data
        • Cheating with the domain
        • data vs datum
        • Setting up the clipPaths
        • Clipping and adding the areas
        • Draw the lines and the axes
      • Adding a bit more to our difference chart.
        • Add a Y axis label
        • Add a title
        • Adding the legend
        • Link the areas
        • The final result
  • Crossfilter, dc.js and d3.js for Data Discovery
    • Introduction to Crossfilter
      • Map-reduce
      • What can crossfilter do?
    • Introduction to dc.js
      • Bar Chart
      • Pie Chart
      • Row Chart
      • Line Chart
      • Bubble Chart
      • Geo Choropleth Chart
      • Data Table
    • Bare bones structure for dc.js and crossfilter page
    • Add a Bar Chart.
      • Position the bar chart
      • Assign the bar chart type
      • Dimension and group the bar chart data
      • Configure the bar chart parameters
      • Just one more thing…
      • Just yet another thing…
        • Position the chart
        • Assign type
        • Dimension and Group
        • Configure chart parameters
    • Add a Line Chart.
      • Position the line chart
      • Assign the line chart type
      • Dimension and group the line chart data
      • Configure the line chart parameters
    • Adding tooltips to a line chart
    • Add a Row Chart.
      • Position the row chart
      • Assign the row chart type
      • Dimension and group the row chart data
      • Configure the row chart parameters
    • Add a Pie Chart.
      • Position the pie chart
      • Assign the pie chart type
      • Dimension and group the pie chart data
      • Configure the pie chart parameters
    • Resetting filters
      • Making the reset label a little bit better behaved.
    • Reset all the charts
  • Using Bootstrap with d3.js
    • What is Bootstrap?
      • Layout grid
      • Interface components
    • Incorporating Bootstrap into your html code.
    • Arranging more than one graph on a web page.
      • First make a page with two graphs
      • Arrange the graphs with the same anchor
      • Arrange the graphs with separate anchors
    • How does Bootstrap’s grid layout work
      • Arrange more than one d3.js graph with Bootstrap
      • A more complicated Bootstrap layout example
  • Working with GitHub, Gist and bl.ocks.org
    • General stuff about bl.ocks.org
    • Installing the plug-in for bl.ocks.org for easy block viewing
    • Loading a thumbnail into Gist for bl.ocks.org d3 graphs
      • Setting the scene:
      • Enough of the scene setting. Let’s git going :-).
      • Wrap up.
  • Appendices
    • Simple Line Graph
    • Graph with Many Features
    • Graph with Area Gradient
    • Bar Chart
    • Linking Objects
    • PHP with MySQL Access
    • Simple Sankey Graph
    • Simple Tree Diagram
    • Interactive Tree Diagram
    • Force Layout Diagram
    • Bullet Chart
    • Map with zoom / pan and cities

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