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Practical D3.js
Amr T., Stamboliyska R., Apress, Berkeley, CA, 2016. 172 pp.  Type: Book (978-1-484219-27-0)
Date Reviewed: May 2 2017

I wanted to review this book because I am fascinated by the growing computational power and expressiveness that JavaScript is gaining over time in computer graphics. I have quickly read here and there about D3.js, but never exhaustively, so I saw this as the best opportunity to fill my large knowledge gap on the subject.

Immediately, the subtitle clashed with the size of the book: “Master the use of D3.js in the real world” versus 162 pages. How is it possible to master D3.js in 162 pages? That is not possible indeed, but not because of the small size of the book, unfortunately.

The authors devote the first three chapters (one third of the book) to understanding data visualization, as well as structuring and designing data visualization and, finally, telling a story. Honestly, I was not interested in these topics, and an average reader will likely already possess this knowledge. Moreover, the ratio between these introductory chapters and the rest of the book was disproportionate. To master D3.js in the real world, I would have preferred to read something more about the language, its strengths, and its weak points. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

I usually encourage starting from examples to describe something that is hard to understand. This works well when the time to talk is short or the number of blank pages to fill is few. But I do not think this can work in this case because I read the book to learn to master D3.js, not to approach it for the first time. I strove to understand the syntax of a D3.js select, together with all its potentialities and, sadly, I did not manage to catch it in its entirety. With this book, readers will learn how to draw rectangles, circles, and more complex shapes; simple layouts (for example, pie charts) and complex layouts; and how to work with data (the last chapter). Ultimately, readers will need to buy another book or browse the web to get a good understanding of the material introduced here. For these reasons, I cannot promote this book, nor can I suggest its reading.

Reviewer:  Tommaso Mazza Review #: CR145236 (1707-0436)
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