Intro to Animation with D3.js

This post will provide an introduction to animation using D3.js. Animation simply changes the properties of the visual object over time. This can be useful for help the viewer of the web page to understand key features of the data.

For now we will do the following in terms of animation.

  • Create a simple animation
  • Animate multiple properties
  • Create chained transitions
  • Handling Transitions

Create a Simple Animation

What is new for us in terms of d3.js code for animation is the use of the .transition() and .duration() methods. The transition method provides instructions on how to changing a visual attribute over time. Duration is simply how long the transition takes.

In the code below, we are going to create a simply black rectangle that will turn white and disappear on the screen. This is done by appending an svg that contains a black rectangle into the body element and then have that rectangle turn white and disappear.

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1.gif

This interesting but far from amazing. We simply change the color  or animated one property. Next, we learn how to animate more than one property at a time.

Animating Multiple Properties at Once

You are not limited to only animating one property. In the code below we will change the color will have the rectangle move as well. This id one through the x,y coordinates to the second .attr({}) method. The code and the animation are below.

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You can see how the rectangle moves from the top left to the bottom right while also changing colors from black to white thus disappearing. Next, we will look at chained transitions

Chained Transitions

Chained transitions involves have some sort of animation take place. Followed by a delay and then another animation taking place. In order to do this you need to use the .delay() method. This method tells the  browser to wait a specify number of seconds before doing something else.

In our example, we are going to have our rectangle travel diagonally down while also disappearing only tot suddenly travel up while changing back to the color of black. Below is the code followed by the animation.

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By now you are starting to see that the only limit to animation in d3.js is your imagination.

Handling Transitions

The beginning and end of a transition can be handle by a .each() method. This is useful when you want to control the style of the element at the beginning and or end of a transition.

In the code below, you will see the rectangle go from red, to green, to orange, to black, and then to gray. At the same time the rectangle will move and change sizes. Notice careful the change from red to green and form black to gray are controlled by .each() methods.

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Conclusion

Animation is not to only be used for entertainment. When developing visualizations, an animation should provide additional understanding of the content that you are trying to present. This is important to remember so that d3.js does not suffer the same fate as PowerPoint in that people focus more on the visual effects rather than the content.

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