Review: 4 supercool JavaScript tools for data visualization

Free, open source D3, InfoViz, Processing.js, and Recline.js bring dynamic, interactive -- and jaw-dropping -- data-driven graphics to the Web browser

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Where HTML5 meets big data

If you need straightforward charts, manipulated in a straightforward fashion, then you should be pleased with InfoVis. Just package your data into JSON and feed it to the right chart object -- you have your graph. On the other hand, if you're looking for a library that will take you beyond data visualization -- that can produce abstract graphic designs or even pure animations -- then look no further than Processing.js.

If, however, you're more interested in your data than in its visualization -- that is, if your main objective is to explore your data rather than create animated and interactive charts and diagrams with it, and you only need a handful of basic, solid graph types -- then consider Recline.js. It provides tools for getting your data into its library from numerous sources, and it provides routines for querying and analyzing the data once it's there.

But for sheer panache, D3 is tough to beat. The variety and beauty of the graphics exhibited on the D3 website is simply dazzling. And because D3 uses existing DOM objects and Web browser infrastructure to work its magic, if you're already comfortable with JavaScript (particularly if you use jQuery extensively), then you'll probably pick D3 up quite quickly. Even if you're not a JavaScript pro, the sheer volume of available examples means that you can probably cut and paste together what you need.

This article, "Review: 4 supercool JavaScript tools for data visualization," was originally published at Follow the latest news in software development, JavaScript, and HTML at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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