6 Best Books on Data Visualization with D3.js in 2023

Learn to create neat and clean line graphs and other data visualizations with the D3.js JavaScript library.

Learn to create neat and clean line graphs and other data visualizations with the D3.js JavaScript library.

D3.js is one of the most popular and powerful JavaScript libraries for creating data visualizations. D3 stands for Data-Driven Documents. It helps you use data-driven transformations with HTML, SVG, and CSS. With data, you can create interactive tables and graphs.

In this article, let’s discover together the best books for learning data visualization with D3.js. Each book review highlights the taste of the book, the contents covered, and how it can benefit you to master the D3.js JavaScript library.


Why Learn Data Visualization with D3.js?

Let's have a look at top reasons to learn this fascinating subject:

  • Vibrant open source community: Being open-source, the community is very helpful and vibrant. There are extensive free resources available online because of the very large and vibrant open-source community behind D3.

  • Unrivalled Flexibility: D3.js has the flexibility to display data pretty much however you want. The only limit is your imagination and your ability to manipulate the D3.js to accomplish your vision.

  • Knowing D3 = hirable skills: D3 is quite the feather to have in your cap when looking for roles in the programming and development industries. Because D3 is so widely used, knowing it makes you more hirable for tech jobs.

  • Opportunity to learn web development skills: D3 exposes you to the internals of a webpage. When learning D3, you learn many other web skills involving JavaScript and HTML.

  • D3 experts earn a pretty penny: If your goal is to earn money and get a good salary in the coming years, then D3 becomes more vital. Across the board, whether it be a Software Engineer or any development/coding type role, there’s a salary increase of between 10-25% when that salary included a D3.js skillset as part of the requirements.


What Makes The Best Data Visualization with D3.js Books? 

Here are our criteria for the selection of the books:

  • The book should contain a variety of instructional materials, including exercises, examples, questions, learning activities, and other features that promote the reader's engagement and active learning.

  • It uses clear, precise, and easy-to-understand language.

  • Content must be up-to-date and should thoroughly teach and explain the basic concepts of data visualization withD3.js.

  • Contain assignments for practice and hands-on experience.

  • The book should have a clear layout and strictly focus on data visualization with D3.js.


Prerequisites for Learning Data Visualization with D3.js

Before learning D3.js, you must first grasp the fundamentals of HTML, CSS, and modern JavaScript.

Check out the following articles to get started learning front-end developer fundamentals:


Best Books on Data Visualization with D3.js

Here are the best data visualization books on D3.js that are a must-read. Some D3.js books are better for beginners while others cover more intermediate examples.


1. Best book for serious learners: Learn D3.js

Learn D3.js: Create interactive data-driven visualizations for the web with the D3.js library by Helder da Rocha explores the power of D3.js 5 and its integration with web technologies for building rich and interactive data visualization solutions. This book covers D3 version 5 and is based on ES2015 JavaScript.

This practical hands-on guide provides a learning path to obtain a solid understanding of D3.js fundamental concepts, learn to use most of its modules and functions, and helps to create your own D3 visualizations. The book is packed with step-by-step tutorials and hundreds of examples. The topics are explained attractively and engagingly.

After reading the book, you'll be able to:

  • Learn to use D3.js version 5 and web standards to create beautiful interactive data-driven visualizations for the web

  • Bind data to DOM elements, applying different scales, color schemes and configuring smooth animated transitions for data updates

  • Generate data structures and layouts for many popular chart formats

  • Apply interactive behaviors to any chart

  • Create thematic maps based on GIS data using different geographical projections with interactive behaviors

  • Load, parse and transform data from JSON and CSV formats

This comprehensive book covers the following topics:

  • Introduction

  • Technical Fundamentals

  • Quick Start

  • Data Binding

  • Manipulating Data and Formatting

  • Scales, Axes, and Colors

  • Shape and Layout Generators

  • Animation and Interactivity

  • Visualizing Hierarchical Data

  • Visualizing Flows and Networks

  • Visualizing Geographical Data

The book assumes basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.


2. Best book for step-by-step learners: Data Visualization with D3 4.x Cookbook

Data Visualization with D3 4.x Cookbook by Nick Zhu gives you all the guidance you need to start creating modern data visualizations with D3 4.0. With this step-by-step guide, you will efficiently create breathtaking data visualization with the help of practical recipes, detailed illustrations, and code samples.

The book starts by touching upon data visualization and D3 basics and quickly moves on to writing idiomatic D3-style JavaScript code. It gradually takes you through several practical recipes covering a wide range of D3 topics. The book also provides ready-to-go sample code to help you bootstrap quickly.

After reading the book, you'll be able by 

  • Get a solid understanding of the D3 fundamentals and idioms

  • Use D3 to load, manipulate, and map data to any kind of visual representation on the web

  • Create data-driven dynamic visualizations that update as the data does

  • Leverage the various modules provided by D3 to create sophisticated, dynamic, and interactive charts and graphics

  • Create data-driven transitions and animations within your visualizations

  • Understand and leverage more advanced concepts such as force, touch, and Geo data visualizations

Depth and quality are both preserved well in this book. You can dig deep into topics and you’ll learn the right ways to actually create a visualization. The book will simply polish your data visualisation concepts from good to outstanding!


3. Best book for hands-on learners: Fullstack D3 and Data Visualization

Fullstack D3 and Data Visualization: Build beautiful data visualizations with D3 by Amelia Wattenberger is a complete guide to D3. It'll help you to convert data into an understandable format and uncover key insights and problems.

With this comprehensive book, you'll understand and apply all the data visualization tasks at ease. This book is filled with dozens of code examples showing each step and helps you gain new insights into your data by creating visualizations. 

The book is divided into fourteen chapters and the topics are compiled in a well-organized way. 

  • Chapter 0 gives you the introduction to use D3.js

  • Chapter 1 talks about making your first chart

  • Chapter 2 talks about making a scatterplot

  • Chapter 3 guides you on how to make a bar chart

  • Chapter 4 covers Animations and Transitions

  • Chapter 5 covers Interactions

  • Chapter 6 talks about making a map and learn how to plot values within a location

  • Chapter 7 covers Data Visualization basics

  • Chapter 8 covers common chart types and when to use them

  • Chapter 9 covers Dashboard Design

  • Chapter 10 covers Advanced Visualization: Marginal Histogram

  • Chapter 11 covers Advanced Visualization: Radial Weather Chart

  • Chapter 12 covers Advanced Visualization: Animated Sankey Diagram

  • Chapter 13 talks about D3 and React and discuss how we can create blazing fast charts using the two together

  • Chapter 14 shows how to create optimized SVG charts using D3 and Angular.

If you want to learn D3.js in the best way, this is the go-to book for you. It also comes with a wonderful online learning platform. There, along with the book, you'll get additional practical implementations of visualizations with code.


Other books you may be interested in:


4. Best book for absolute beginners: D3.js in Action

If you’re a complete beginner, I think the best book for you is D3.js in Action: Data visualization with JavaScript by Elijah Meeks. It's a practical tutorial for creating interactive graphics and data-driven applications using D3. The book covers every major concept and feature of D3 visualization.

The book is packed with rich full-color diagrams and illustrations. You'll explore dozens of real-world examples, including force and network diagrams, workflow illustrations, geospatial constructions, and much more. You'll also step through a fully interactive application created with D3 and React.

It spans 350 pages teaching charts, graphs, and larger datasets with more complex visualization techniques. The book is divided into three parts and eleven chapters. 

Part 1. D3.js fundamentals

  • Chapter 1 gives an introduction to D3.js

  • Chapter 2 talks about Information visualization data flow

  • Chapter 3 covers Data-driven design and interaction

  • Chapter 4 covers Chart components

  • Chapter 5 covers Layouts

Part 2. Complex data visualization

  • Chapter 6 talks about Hierarchical visualization

  • Chapter 7 covers Network visualization

  • Chapter 8 talks about Geospatial information visualization

Part 3. Advanced techniques

  • Chapter 9 covers Interactive applications with React and D3

  • Chapter 10 talks about writing layouts and components

  • Chapter 11 covers mixed mode rendering

The book teaches the right way to do things with D3 to get you moving down the right path. We recommend this to a beginner who’s willing to put in the work and try out different solutions.


5. Best book for fast learners: D3 for the Impatient

If you looking to pick up and go, D3 for the Impatient: Interactive Graphics for Programmers and Scientists by Philipp K. Janert is for you. The book moves quickly, emphasizing unifying concepts and patterns.

The book is divided into ten chapters and includes the following topics 

  • Chapter 1 gives you the introduction 

  • Chapter 2 talks about making graphs

  • Chapter 3 talks about Selecting and Binding

  • Chapter 4 covers Events, Interactivity, and Animation

  • Chapter 5 covers Generators, Components, Layouts: Drawing Curves and Shapes

  • Chapter 6 covers Files, Fetches, Formats: Getting Data In and Out

  • Chapter 7 covers Values to Visuals: Interpolations, Scales, and Axes

  • Chapter 8 covers Colors, Color Scales, and Heatmaps

  • Chapter 9 covers Trees and Networks

  • Chapter 10 covers Utilities: Arrays, Statistics, and Timestamps

After reading the book, you'll be able to 

  • Understand D3 selections, the library’s fundamental organizing principle

  • Learn how to create data-driven documents with data binding

  • Create animated graphs and interactive user interfaces

  • Draw figures with curves, shapes, and colors

  • Use the built-in facilities for heatmaps, tree graphs, and networks

  • Simplify your work by writing your own reusable components

This is definitely a great book for impatient learners who want to quickly understand all the fuss around D3.js.


6. Best book for beginners: Interactive Data Visualization for the Web

Interactive Data Visualization for the Web: An Introduction to Designing with D3 by Scott Murray will get you started on the path to expertise. It takes you through the fundamental concepts and methods of D3 in a friendly and accessible way.

The book is divided into sixteen chapters. Here's what you will get from the book:

  • Learn D3 4.x—the latest D3 version—with downloadable code and over 140 examples

  • Create bar charts, scatter plots, pie charts, stacked bar charts, and force-directed graphs

  • Use smooth, animated transitions to show changes in your data

  • Introduce interactivity to help users explore your data

  • Create custom geographic maps with panning, zooming, labels, and tooltips

  • Walk through the creation of a complete visualization project, from start to finish

  • Explore inspiring case studies with nine accomplished designers talking about their D3-based projects

This step-by-step guide will also help you expand your web programming skills by teaching you the basics of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and SVG. We highly recommend this to anyone in the beginner-to-intermediate stage of D3.js.


More Ways to Learn Data Visualization with D3.js 

So these are the best data visualizations with D3.js books. They serve as a great resource for those who want to learn best through reading. No matter where you are in your learning cycle, there’s always a book that can help.

If you have made it this far then certainly you are willing to learn more from online courses as well. Here's a list that can help: 

  • Coursera: D3Js Basics is a 1.5-hour long project-based course that will show you the basic concepts to create data visualizations in D3.js.

  • Codecademy: Introduction to D3 helps you to learn the basics of data visualization with d3 by binding data to a web page's elements and customizing the elements based on that very data.

We also suggest over 70 coding resources here that are free online.

Thanks for reading this post. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to comment here. 

Miranda Limonczenko

Miranda is the founder of Books on Code, with a mission to bring book-lover culture to programmers. Learn more by checking out Miranda on LinkedIn.


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