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Getting Started with D3 [Paperback]

Mike Dewar
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.50
Price: 13.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

13 July 2012 1449328792 978-1449328795 1

Learn how to create beautiful, interactive, browser-based data visualizations with the D3 JavaScript library. This hands-on book shows you how to use a combination of JavaScript and SVG to build everything from simple bar charts to complex infographics. You’ll learn how to use basic D3 tools by building visualizations based on real data from the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Using historical tables, geographical information, and other data, you’ll graph bus breakdowns and accidents and the percentage of subway trains running on time, among other examples. By the end of the book, you’ll be prepared to build your own web-based data visualizations with D3.

  • Join a dataset with elements of a webpage, and modify the elements based on the data
  • Map data values onto pixels and colors with D3’s scale objects
  • Apply axis and line generators to simplify aspects of building visualizations
  • Create a simple UI that allows users to investigate and compare data
  • Use D3 transitions in your UI to animate important aspects of the data
  • Get an introduction to D3 layout tools for building more sophisticated visualizations

If you can code and manipulate data, and know how to work with JavaScript and SVG, this book is for you.

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Getting Started with D3 + Interactive Data Visualization for the Web + Visualize This: The Flowing Data Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics
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Product details

  • Paperback: 70 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (13 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449328792
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449328795
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 17.8 x 0.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 250,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

Book Description

Creating Data-Driven Documents

About the Author

Mike Dewar is a data-scientist at Bitly, a New York tech company that makes long URLs shorter. He has a PhD in modelling dynamic systems from data from the University of Sheffield in the UK, and has worked as a Machine Learning post-doc in The University of Edinburgh and Columbia University. He has been drawing graphs regularly since he was in High School, and is starting to get the hang of it.

Customer Reviews

2.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read, but not in isolation 15 Aug 2012
In this short book, Mike Dewar introduces D3 and makes a persuasive case for building visualizations using JavaScript, SVG, HTML and CSS.

Attempting to cover the four underlying technologies, as well as D3, is clearly an impossible task in only 57 pages, so Dewar deserves credit for keeping things relatively simple; he develops a handful of graphs that exemplify some useful D3 methods and highlights a core D3 idiom (selectAll, data, enter) in the process. In each case, I liked the reminder that effective visualization is as much about good design as well written code; it was also nice that the examples were based on 'real' data.

One of the main drawbacks of "Getting Started with D3" is that it's too ambitious. Readers will need more than a sprinkling of JavaScript to make the most of this book and although SVG, HTML and CSS are reasonable prerequisites, there aren't enough pointers to alternative resources (I'd recommend the Mozilla Developer Network, for example). Similarly, the chapter on force-directed, histogram and stacked layouts is hurried. More importantly, however, are the errors in the code examples, which are likely to frustrate beginners.

In many respects, this book marks D3's transition from academia to the mainstream; at the very least, it should give the reader some confidence that D3 isn't going to go the way of Protovis, its predecessor. In summary, "Getting Started with D3" is worth reading, but not in isolation. And do check the errata!

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through O'Reilly's Blogger Review Program.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars d0.003 20 Mar 2013
What content there is I found to be easy to read and follow the examples. I have already been messing around with d3 before reading the book and it certainly some things clearer for me. It fits the title of "Getting Started with..." fine.

The price is not really in line with what you get, though. I think this would work better as a 1 ebook sweetener to buy a full d3 cookbook or nutshell version. What rubs salt on the wound is several pages wasted on explaining how to read the book. Really? I think if you are at a level of intelligence capable of working with Javascript libraries that you can probably work out why some text is in italic or bold type.

On the other hand, I know more about the New York transit authority and their datasets than anyone living on the other side of the Atlantic has any need for.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong purchase - I think 22 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Too difficult to understand with my background. May be at a later stage I can use it and appreciate it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is not a book. It is a 57 page pamphlet. 14 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I must confess I only have myself to blame. A quick glance through the other comments clearly state that this "book" is tiny. I think for 10 pounds it is not worth it. If you are looking to get started in D3 then you will be better off going through the examples/tutorials that can be found online.

The one thing of value that this book has taught me is in future make more of an effort to read the comments/description of a "book" before hitting the purchase button.

Feel ripped off.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.9 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressed 26 July 2012
By Ysgard - Published on
Not so much a book as an 'at-a-glance' pamphlet. Does a adequate job of introducing you to D3, but not more so than the existing examples on the

I wanted to work with the live data, but the author does little more than provide 'data cleaner' Python scripts to produce JSON from the live sources that he selected - the New York transit system. Python scripts that required modules outside of Python's standard library. Really? At least he provided canned data, but D3's strength is working with living data, and that's not really explored here.

The book also feels sloppily written, with many niggling errors. For example, the skeleton html provided references to the 'd3.js' file, but since February this file has been supplanted by 'd3.v2.js'. Was there really no time to correct this fundamental error before the book came out in late July? D3 makes extensive use of 'cascading' functions, but no real effort was put in to explain or show, with diagrams, how they work in D3. Considering that this is probably the greatest hurdle for newbies to get over, the lack of serious treatment is appalling.

The examples are good - I can't really fault them, and the subtle repetition does drive home the core D3 process. But it doesn't feel like enough. The author's refuses to even explain the basics of anything other than throwing a graph up. For certain, this book is supposed to be about D3, not data munging or manipulation - but considering how important SVG is to D3 and its use, I was surprised to see a mere half-page given to the image format. Amusingly, the author notes "We've no space to go into SVG in detail here..." No space? The book is 58 pages long. It could use some more padding with useful information.

The book goes through example after example, but doesn't offer the merits or demerits of a particular graph or approach. Why use a force-directed graph to represent the New York subway system, for example? For show? The resulting graph is ugly, the nodes and edges unlabelled. An example showing how to make a simple directed graph, properly labelled and aligned, would have been far more useful.

Want a list of all available graphs available for D3? An overview of the library API? An example of how to use D3 with XML or CSV data? You're out of luck. What I really wanted was a nice, detailed exploration of the library and how it can be used, step-by-step, to craft amazing graphs like the "Wealth of Nations" visualization (see the D3 website) , but instead I got regurgitated snippets. It's like I have Chapter 1 of a 7-chapter book.

I think this book is really mistitled, and that's why I feel so poorly about it. If it had been named "D3 at a glance" and cost 10$, I would have received it more positively. But I expect more - a lot more - from a 'Getting Started' title.

I feel particularly cheated because I purchased this at the same time I purchased another O'Reilly "Getting Started" book - "Getting Started with Dwarf Fortress", which contains over 200 pages of densely packed information, including detailed step-by-step instructions and good appendices. The kicker? It also cost 20$.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money 19 Dec 2012
By ANDREW - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Way overpriced for the content. This book feels more like a teaser. Where's the beef?! The author does not give any insight into several D3 graphs such as Chord Graphs. To the author: Keep working please.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just to get you started... 24 Oct 2012
By deepu - Published on
The book hardly touches the features of d3 and doesn't discuss the library in any detail. It is a good starting point for someone interested in taking a first look at d3, but ends abruptly, leaving you nowhere. You would still be confused if you read the whole book and went back to the d3 documentation.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money. 13 Dec 2012
By F - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is of no value. The books is very short, contains only the most simple and basic plots (all of which are ugly and terrible visualizations), and is easily found for free online. Not really even usable as a reference guide. I am extremely disappointed because I can see how powerful D3 can be when used right. This is not the book to learn how to use it. Strongly recommend that you look elsewhere.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helps step over the barrier to entry 8 July 2012
By Katrina Owen - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
D3, javascript, and dataviz is so far outside my day-to-day programming experience that I had no way of figuring out how to get from the examples on to some form of Hello World locally.

This book got me passed that initial hurdle.

By the end of the book, having typed all the examples 'by hand' so to speak, and trying to force my brain to internalize the basic mechanics of the thing, I think I've understood the basic idea of the enter() selection, and feel like I can probably figure out update() and exit() on my own, suggesting that the author accomplished what he set out to do. I believe I've now "gotten started" enough that I can for the most part ask the right questions somewhere when I do get stuck.

One thing that I, as a complete and utter novice, would have loved some extra hand-holding on, is how to determine axes and ranges and widths and domains. This can sort of be extrapolated from the examples, but a clear intro to these things would be a great help.

Another area that I wish the book had touched upon (preferably with a code example) is creating realtime visualizations. Without some idea of what goes into creating a realtime visualization it's incredibly difficult to figure out which search terms to use in order to stumble across useful information (it turns out node.js and are a good starting point, in case you were wondering).

The code examples use real-world (as opposed to contrived) data, which is a huge plus.
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