Resources on Django and D3

Posted on April 2, 2013 by emisshula

It is no secret that I have been working on delivering d3 over django. I am a novice to both of these technologies, I have been scouring the internet for FREE resources. Of what I have found. Here are my impressions. On Django, there seem to be few full tutorials analogous to Michael Hartle’s book. However what there is works. The early version’s of Michael’s book were hell if you did not have the latest $2,500 Mac. The Django `official tutorial official tutorial was manageable. It should really spend time telling you to set up a virtual environment but you can find that material in Technomilk. There is also a very good book by John Bennett of Django’s main authors but is behind a pay-wall. The reason that I am switching to django is that there is a growing number of resources for scientific computation (apologies, this is behind a pay-wall) in python. I believe that it will emerge as a successor to the R statistical language. If you are still using R, you should check out IPython, Pandas, NumPy and SciPy. Also I have not finished them, but there is another FREE (video) tutorial, Getting Started with Django, for after you have finished the official one.

The other great strength of R is its graphics, both the base graphics and ggplot. (Truth be told, I found that indecipherable without the companion book, which is of course behind a pay-wall.) However as data presentation evolves from static graphs to user interfaces, we need to move to tools like D3.js which allow us to create graphs from html styling elements. These are also called svg or css graphics. Right now there are only two books on the subject. Mike Dewar’s Getting Started with D3 and Scott Murray’s Interactive Visualization for the Web. Mike’s book is strictly limited to D3 and was hard for me to get a clear idea of what is going on because of my own limitations in HTML and CSS. Both books say that they are only going to explain D3 but Murray’s book and free tutorials explains more of the background. making it easier to understand what is happening. There are more small examples so you can draw circle or rectangle before you draw a scatter plot. Both Mike’s and Scott’s book make a github repository available so you can see full examples of what is in the text. With Mike’s book some of what is in the repository is different than what is printed in the text. This is particularly frustrating on the Subway wait user interface. This is not to trash Michael’s book. I at least understood something after reading it. Looking at the documentation from M Bostock made me feel like a complete idiot.