D3 Tips and Tricks v4.x
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D3 Tips and Tricks v4.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 4.x. If you're looking for the edition of this book that was written for version 5.x you can find it here. The earlier edition of this book that was written for version 3.x 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 originally 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 60 code examples used in the book (with their data files) available to download (still free!) and they will 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. There's also 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 donating when you download it so that Leanpub get something for hosting the book and providing such an awesome service.

(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 the original version of 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
  • Share this book

  • Categories

    • D3.js
    • Computers and Programming
    • Graphics
    • Software

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 in writing these books are to play with software, achieve personal goals and try something new for fun. It also helps that I think Open Source, technology, the visual representation of data and information rock in serious ways.

The books that I write are a mechanism to support my own learning, so the way I explain things is focused on trying to impart 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. If you feel that you would like to support continued development of this content, feel free to donate when you download.

If you're looking for a hard copy version of any of these publications, they will be available through Amazon (not all will be available sorry).

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 we need to get started?
    • HTML
    • JavaScript
    • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
    • Web Servers
    • PHP
    • Other Useful Stuff
      • Text Editor
      • Getting D3
        • Host d3.js locally
        • Use a remote CDN to always use the latest version of d3.js
        • Potential directory structure
      • Where to get information on d3.js
        • d3js.org
        • Google Groups
        • Stack Overflow
        • Github
        • bl.ocks.org
        • Twitter
        • Books
  • Starting with a simple graph
    • HTML
    • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
    • D3 JavaScript
      • Setting up the margins and the graph area.
      • Getting the Data
      • Formatting the Date / Time.
      • Setting Scales Domains and Ranges
      • Adding data to the line function
      • Adding the SVG element.
      • Actually Drawing Something!
        • Drawing the line
        • Drawing the Axes
    • Wrap Up
  • Things we can do with the simple graph
    • Setting up and configuring the Axes
      • Change the text size
      • Changing the number of ticks on an axis
      • Rotating text labels for a graph axis
      • Formatting a date / time axis with specified values
    • Adding Axis Labels
      • The x axis label
      • The y axis label
    • How to add a title to your graph
    • Change a line chart into a scatter plot
    • Smoothing out graph 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 grid lines to a graph
      • The grid line CSS
      • Define the grid line functions
      • Draw the lines
    • Adding more than one line to a graph
    • Labelling multiple lines on a graph
    • Multiple axes for a graph
  • 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
  • Manipulating data
    • How to use data imported from a csv file with spaces in the header.
    • Extracting data from a portion of a string.
    • Grouping and summing data (d3.nest)
    • Selecting a random string from an array.
  • Bar Charts and Histograms
    • Bar Chart
      • Histogram
    • Bar Charts
      • The data
      • The code
      • The bar chart explained
    • Histograms
      • The data
      • The code
      • The histogram explained
  • Tree Diagrams
    • What is a Tree Diagram?
    • A simple Tree Diagram explained
    • A horizontal tree diagram explained
    • Styling nodes in a tree diagram
      • Changing node and link colours
      • Changing the nodes to different shapes
      • Using images as nodes
    • Generating a tree diagram from external data
    • Generating a tree diagram from ‘flat’ data
    • Generating a tree diagram from a CSV file.
    • An interactive tree diagram
  • Sankey Diagrams
    • What is a Sankey Diagram?
    • Which Sankey plugin should we use?
    • How d3.js Sankey Diagrams want their data formatted
    • Description of the code
    • Formatting data for Sankey diagrams
      • From a JSON file with numeric link values
      • From a JSON file with links as names
      • From a CSV with ‘source’, ‘target’ and ‘value’ info only.
  • 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.
    • Transitions
      • Transitioning Chaining
      • Transition Easing
      • Looping a Transition
    • Show / hide an element by clicking on another element
        • The code
    • 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
    • Using the Yahoo Query Language (YQL) to get data.
      • YQL by example
    • 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
    • Understanding JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)
  • D3.js Examples Explained
    • 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

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