I went to a pretty exciting meet up last night at George Washington University.  It was by put on my Statistical Programming DC and was my first meet up with them.  The speaker was Matt Sundquist, who is one of the founders of, which is sort of the github of plotting.   The talk was pretty good and I was impressed by the package.  It’s free and they have bindings to Julia, Python, Excel, Matlab, Igor, R, etc.   You can view graphs, edit legends, etc. from within the browser and send them directly from your python scripts, which is really cool!   You can also stream real time data over.  One really nice feature is that you can see the data used to generate a plot and the code (in multiple languages) that will generate it.  This would be really cool to see in journals!   It ties in nicely with the recent posting by Nature about hosted iPython consoles.

Given the variety of graphs, I can understand why they went with d3.js—we went with jqplot for a number of our online plotting solutions because I thought the learning curve would be shallower for our high school/college interns.   Also, I think we started back in the days of Flot, before d3 was out there.    I somehow thought that d3.js was only SVG, but one of my coworkers told me that it now supports canvas as well, so it could be fast—but apparently producing pdf files from canvas is painful...

I hope their company survives and I can definitely see using it for sharing plots with my collaborators.   Because of our use of interactors, I doubt that I will be able to replace a number of existing projects though due to our need for custom interactors.   Hopefully they develop a plugin system in the future!

Posted by william, 0 comments

Getting started with D3

As we move more to the web for showing data, there is a need for good plotting libraries.   We started using flot and eventually migrated to JQPlot which I've been fairly happy with for general plotting.  Lately, I've been hearing about D3 for more custom plots and thought I'd take a bit of time to learn more about it this weekend.

I just had a quick read of Getting Started with D3 by Mike Dewar.   I saw an excellent talk by the author (who works at related to data analysis.   Sadly, I wasn't terribly happy with the book.   Part of it is that the book is just incredibly short!   The idea of taking MTA data to look at was good, but somehow I think more examples could have been shown, or perhaps some more involved visualizations/interactions.   After reading the book, I have a basic feeling for some of what D3 can do, but am not sure if I could have learned the same information from simply looking through the web...Some introduction to SVG would have been rather helpful.

I may play with it a bit later for a few custom visualizations and see whether it is worthwhile...From the book, and the examples that I've seen, it is useful when you're wanting to do non-standard plots, otherwise, I think I'll stick with jqplot.

Posted by william in books, javascript, plotting, 0 comments