Building Custom Data Visualizations

Exploring the Dataset

Shirley Wu

Shirley Wu

Data Sketches
Building Custom Data Visualizations

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The "Exploring the Dataset" Lesson is part of the full, Building Custom Data Visualizations course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Shirley goes through the steps that she takes when approaching a new dataset to turn into a data visualization. Observable Notebook is introduced, and a short instruction on how to use it is given.


Transcript from the "Exploring the Dataset" Lesson

>> Shirley Wu: So let's start with data exploration. So with data exploration, what I try to do every single time that I get a new data set, whether from a client or for a personal project, is to first look at the data. List all of the data attributes that are either relevant or important.

Ask questions, make hypotheses from those data attributes. And then, explore the data using some simple charts. And we'll use an observable notebook for this, so you can get the link from the site.
>> Shirley Wu: But, so to use observable notebook, here's a little bit more direction on how to use an observable notebook.

So the observable notebook is something built by Mike Bostock, who is the creator of D3, as well as a few other people in his company. And I think it's really making kind of developing, especially D3 and visualizations in the browser, and having that be kind of in a notebook format with a lot of kind of process notes and stuff, very easy.

But to be able to use this, some of the basics, there's definitely more tutorials than this. There's definitely more how to's then this, but I kinda boiled it down to what we might need today. So to be able to load any external libraries you just say d3 = require('d3'), or any other modules that you want.

If you want to write text, to write down notes, you just say markdown, md. And then put your markdown text into the backticks. And to be able to set a global variable that you can use in any other cell, just yeah, globalVar is equal to something, something, something.

To write a block of JavaScript code, put it into curly braces. And then to be able to create an SVG element, you want to say the svg = DOM.svg, give it width, height. And make sure to return the svg in curly braces. So that's kind of the basics of how to use an observable notebook.

And we'll be using it during our exercises later on. But before we get into the exercises of the data exploration, I want to talk a little bit about data types. Because that's really, really important to talking about basic charts and what they're good for.

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