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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The JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit, or InfoVis for short, is the creation of Nicolas Garcia Belmonte. Although the toolkit is now owned by Sencha, it retains an open source (BSD) license.

InfoVis is primarily a charting library that makes heavy use of JSON. Data that is passed to InfoVis's charting functions does so in the form of JSON objects. Also, when a chart is initialized (that is, the chart object, such as an area chart, is created) the chart's parameters are specified as elements in a JSON object that's passed to the initialization function. In effect, the JSON objects serve as named parameters to InfoVis's function calls.

InfoVis's stable of graphs include area, bar, and pie charts; tree maps; space and hyper trees; sunbursts; radial graphs; and force-directed graphs. You can also form visualizations that are compositions of multiple graph types (one of the demonstrations shows a mixture of pie charts and tree graphs). Most charts have configurable display options unique to the chart type. For example, a tree chart can be aligned left, center, or right in its display field.

InfoVis also provides a set of core utility functions, many of which are more or less duplicates of similar functions available in popular JavaScript libraries such as jQuery, Prototype, and MooTools. For example, InfoVis provides the each() function, which iterates over an array, repeatedly applying a function -- useful for wholesale modifications of the results of a selection, like changing the text color of all instances of a specific <div> class.

This InfoVis-generated force-directed graph shows the relationships among the members of an imaginary family.
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