Tag → JavaScript

D3 the Hard FP Way

In theory, the idea here is similar to when I was learning React/Redux and diving into SQL selects. In practice, I think most of D3’s complexity isn’t exactly in a direction that is elucidated by writing down types for everything, so the title is a mere personal snowclone. I’m just writing things out to an arbitrary amount of detail until I understand them and can refer to what I wrote here later.


D3 is “a JavaScript library for visualizing data”. It has a lot of sublibraries that interoperate well but could be used separately — for example, it has utilities for manipulating colors, time, and SVG paths. Of the various concepts, though, I think D3 selections are the most distinctive and fundamental, so they are the focus of this post.

At a high level, D3 selections feel like jQuery. You run some code and it goes into the DOM and adds, deletes, and mutates a bunch of elements. The docs even endorse monkeypatching d3.selection to add custom helpers. However, D3 has data binding and batch operations that make it easy to change the DOM in a way that resembles reconciliation in a framework like React.


API: Selecting Elements.

A D3 selection holds an array of arrays of nullable1 DOM elements. The intermediate arrays are called groups. Additionally, each group in a selection is associated with a parent node. During basic D3 usage, you might only ever work with selections with a single group and ignore parent nodes.

When relevant, I will call the index of an element inside its group the “within-group index” and the index of a group among all groups in a selection the “across-group index”.

React and Redux the Hard FP Way

A more accurate but less informative title for this post would be “How I wish React and Redux were explained to me”. Note that this does not imply that this method of explanation is suitable for anybody else. I suspect it won’t be for most people.

I had to learn React and Redux the past summer for my internship at MemSQL, and there were hundreds of articles that explain React and Redux in addition to the (fine) built-in documentation, but none of them scratched the itch; I wanted to know what was going on completely, including some of the technical details and the philosophy I ought to be following, as well as efficiently. I did not need another explanation about how to think functionally, in JavaScript types or with immutable data. React’s chapter on Conditional Rendering, for example, felt so inefficient — I know what if statements and conditional expressions are, and I know how to refactor complicated subexpressions into variables…

So here’s the guide I wish I had. I think. It’s been months since I started it (as usual, for posts on this blog) and it is probably incomplete. However, I haven’t written React/Redux deeply in a while, so I didn’t have much motivation to continue to investigate the incomplete bits; and the perfect is the enemy of the good, so here it is.

Chi Banner

Okay, I think I’m figuring this out. When I make a filler post for the streak, it should be an unabashed filler post, so I can accumulate some of the blogging time I find each day to work on a serious post (and for doing the other important stuff I should be doing!) instead of wasting it right away. Life. I’m programming something for Dad involving a parser using Jison, and one of the tasks involved stuffing a custom lexer into the parser.