Integrate D3 with React- 8 mins
I remember a while ago (when React.js just started to get popular), I was wondering if it’s easy to combine the power of d3.js and React.js, I did some searching and realized that it’s a bit tricky since both of them will control DOM and track differences. Since I was working on some highly customized data visualization with d3.js, it didn’t seem like a good idea at the time to add new layer to the project.
Then things changed(just like every other day in front end world), d3.js released a new major version, Redux became popular, I’ve been using Redux for a while and it is indeed a huge improvement compared to the time when you need to bind data onto DOM or put it in localStorage. Also, there are some great open source library based on React+D3, I would say if the majority charts you need to implement in a react project are standard, say bar chart or line chart, then these libraries should suffice. But I am still not sure about the right approach to integrate react and d3 for customized data visualization.
To understand more about the differences/similarities between d3.js and react.js, this post is a nice start point, the author also has tried three different approaches here. The use case I am looking into is customized presentation and potential large amount of data, so approach 3 seems to be the best fit, although that means using react is actually redundant since all the key update/manipulation is done by d3.js. Here is a really simple example I tried based on d3 in action edition 2 code example and this post, code is here:
The experience I had by using this approach is that using react as some kind of ‘container’ for all the d3 code is a bit cumbersome, d3.js could’ve taken control of everything for rendering and updating DOM, but, on the other hand, since react capsuled the whole data visualization as a component, passing properties, data or other parameters from outside make it much easier for the user of the component, which is similar to the closure capsulation method mentioned in develop a d3.js edge book. I might try to compare these react+d3 libraries and see how far they can go in terms of complex data visualization, hopefully to find a better way to integrate these two awesome libraries.
UPDATE: So I tried using this approach in a react+redux structure project, as mentioned earlier, the good thing is that I could easily wrap a chart widget in a component and use state/props to pass down the data, but, one annoying thing is that sometimes you have to copy the data within the component, for instance, if you are using a treemap, and in the chart drawing function, you will need to use things like
treemap(data), but this data calculation/manipulation will change the data, and it will be reflected in the redux store, and this will mess up all the store. In this case, you need to create a data copy to avoid affecting data in the store. (but not always, a simple bar chart wouldn’t need this).