Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Nick Basinger, Kevin Benedict, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud

Microsoft Cloud: Blog Post

How D3 Can Help You Build Effective Data Visualizations

How D3 can help you build effective data visualizations

Data Visualization is the method of consolidating data into one collective, illustrative graphic. Traditionally, data visualization has been used for quantitative work, but ways to represent qualitative work have been shown to be equally powerful. The main goal of data visualization, is to communicate information clearly and effectively through graphical means. That doesn't mean that it needs to look boring to be functional or extremely sophisticated to look beautiful. In order to achieve a balance, both aesthetics and functionality need to go hand in hand. At Logentries, we realize the importance of data visualization and how it can help to communicate information to users of the system.

In my previous post "How to combine D3 with Angular JS" I focused mostly on writing code which combines both D3 and AngularJs, and not so much on the actual D3 part, which is responsible for creating graphs. In this post I will demonstrate how D3 can help to build effective graphical representations of data, and I will give a few tips to use when building them.

A bar chart is one of the most effective graphs for communicating information to a user.One axis of the chart shows the specific categories being compared and the other axis represents a discrete value. Even though a bar chart is a very simple graph, it can be very powerful in communicating the information, but sometimes developers tend to forget their basic characteristics when creating them. In today's world where everything which is developed for websites needs to be made responsive. Graphs are used to represent dynamic data and the graph will need to adapt to how this data can change over time.

For example, based on the browser window the graph will need to be scaled. Not only the bars themselves will need to be resized but also other components of the graph such as scales, labels, titles and bars will all need to be resized.

Sometimes, better visualization of the data can actually be done by taking some of the components out , e.g. if the labels on the bottom axis are starting to overlap, rather than rotating them, we could take them out completely and put them in a tooltip. By doing so, we are still preserving information in a tooltip and we are not cluttering the graph with too much information.

d3 data visualizations

This was all theory, so now lets look at how can we build a graph like that in D3. Personally, when I am writing code in D3 I like to put all separate parts of the code in appropriate methods. This can be very helpful when you come back to the code in the future, or when someone else needs to work on the code.

D3.js-Logo

Some components of the code can be made global, so all of the methods can access it easily; like the main SVG element which we are appending the graph to. Looking at the picture above, we have six methods, each one responsible for a different component of the graph. We will have a closer look at the resize method.

When resizing the graph, we need to set the current width and height to the new width and height. Then we need to remove titles and create them again with new dimensions. The main SVG element will also need to be resized with a new width and height. For the purpose of this example, if the width is less than 600 pixels I remove the x-axis, so that the labels will not overlap, but we also have to remember that if the resizing happens again, and the width is greater than 600, we need to make the axis visible again. We could cleverer about this and calculate if at least one label is greater in size than the width of one column then this means the label will overlap and we would remove the axis.

using d3 for data visualizations

The code below shows how can we handle label overlapping more effectively. We can perform three actions with labels:

  1. If there is enough space for all of the labels, display them all
  2. If there is not enough space for at least one label, check if there is space for rotating the labels
  3. If both options fail, then we can completely hide labels

D3 overlapping

I hope this post has shown the value of D3 in doing this manipulation during resizing of different elements and that there are other steps we can take to be clever in designing and developing graphs.

More Stories By Trevor Parsons

Trevor Parsons is Chief Scientist and Co-founder of Logentries. Trevor has over 10 years experience in enterprise software and, in particular, has specialized in developing enterprise monitoring and performance tools for distributed systems. He is also a research fellow at the Performance Engineering Lab Research Group and was formerly a Scientist at the IBM Center for Advanced Studies. Trevor holds a PhD from University College Dublin, Ireland.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...