D3 Visualization LiveLessons: An Introduction to Data Visualization in JavaScript

Ritchie S King

Published by

Addison-Wesley Professional

ISBN

No ISBN but format: Eight downloadable MP4 video lessons

RRP

$299

Reviewed by

Patrick Hill BSc(Hons) MSc PhD CEng MBCS CITP

Score

7 out of 10

Following my review of Ritchie King’s book Visual Storytelling with D3, I was invited by the publisher to download and review the accompanying video LiveLessons.

The LiveLessons are supplied as eight DRM-free MP4 files, which are viewable on a range of devices and amount to just under six hours of instructional video. The lessons are aimed at an audience with some experience of JavaScript and HTML.

D3 (Data Driven Documents) is a freely available JavaScript library which provides a general framework for the generation and manipulation of DOM elements based upon the content of a set of data. While it is not in itself a data visualisation library, D3 provides a comprehensive framework for generating visualisations in web pages.

The LiveLesson videos essentially follow the content of the ‘Visual Storytelling with D3’ book. Seven of the lessons are devoted to the development of single example, namely an animated bar chart visualisation of population distribution by age over a set of years.

The bar chart visualisation is an interesting and illustrative example which does not require an overly complex implementation. The bar chart example is used to help motivate the use of D3 by starting with an implementation in pure JavaScript and incrementally refining this implementation using features of D3.

This is supported by material which may be freely downloaded from the book’s website. The final LiveLesson departs from the book content and takes a brief look at how D3 can be used to generate a web page containing multiple line charts.

The videos are structured into introductions and sub-lessons, making it easy to view the content over a number of sittings. The format of the content is straightforward and direct. Each lesson has introductory material, which is simply King talking direct to camera. The bulk of the content is screen capture of live coding sessions with explanatory voiceovers.

There are plenty of useful asides, and King takes time to explain potentially difficult or unusual concepts. The presentation style is quite informal and chatty, and the quality of the video and audio is very good.

LiveLessons represent a different learning medium which may help learners get ‘up to speed’ more quickly than can be achieved by reading the book. However, I’m not sure that the added value of the LiveLesson videos over the content of the book alone justifies the price.

Further information: Addison-Wesley Professional

May 2015