Chapter 05Radial Lines

D3.js defines a radial line as a line about an origin where each point p on the line is characterized by the distance from p to the origin (a radius) and the angle at the origin subtended by the arc between the positive y-axis and p.

D3.js provides d3.lineRadial(), a radial line generator, much like d3.line, that can be used to produce a path descriptor for SVG path element and for rendering a path in a canvas element.

By default, the line generator expects a dataset consisting of an array of arrays, where each inner array is an angle and radius pair. For each angle/radius pair, t, in the dataset, a point is generated such that the angle at the origin subtended by the arc between the positive y-axis and the point is given by t[0] and the distance from the origin to the point is given by t[1].

In Figure 1 we render a radial line using the following dataset.

var data = [
  [0, 10],
  [Math.PI * .25, 20],
  [Math.PI * .5, 35],
  [Math.PI * .75, 55],
  [Math.PI, 60],
  [Math.PI * 1.25, 65],
  [Math.PI * 1.5, 70],
  [Math.PI * 1.75, 75],
  [Math.PI * 2, 80]];

After creating a radial line generator we append a path element to the g element in the svg and set its d attribute to the path description created by the radial line generator.

 var lineRadial = d3.lineRadial();
      
 d3.select("#demo1")
    .select("g")
    .append("path")
    .attr("d", lineRadial(data))
    .attr("fill", "none")
    .attr("stroke", "black");
<script>
 var data = [
    [0, 10],
    [Math.PI * .25, 20],
    [Math.PI * .5, 35],
    [Math.PI * .75, 55],
    [Math.PI, 60],
    [Math.PI * 1.25, 65],
    [Math.PI * 1.5, 70],
    [Math.PI * 1.75, 75],
    [Math.PI * 2, 80]];
  
 var lineRadial = d3.lineRadial();
      
 d3.select("#demo1")
    .select("g")
    .append("path")
    .attr("d", lineRadial(data))
    .attr("fill", "none")
    .attr("stroke", "black");

</script>

<svg id="demo1" width="200" height="200">
    <g transform="translate(100,100)"></g>
</svg>
Figure 1. Radial line created using the default angle and radius functions.

Note that the origin is at (0,0) in the element in which the line is drawn. In order to position the radial line in the middle of the screen, we add a g element to our svg, translate it into the middle, then draw the line inside the g element.

Accessor Methods

The radial line generator has two methods that can be called to assign custom angle and radius accessor methods to the radial line generator.

When lineRadial.angle and lineRadial.radius are passed functions (or lambda expressions), the functions are called for each element in the dataset and when called, are passed the current data element d, the index of the current element i, and the array of data on which the generator is invoked, data.

When lineRadial.angle and lineRadial.radius are called without an argument, the methods return the radial line generator’s current accessor.

In Figure 2 the dataset consists of an array of objects, each having an angle and radius property. To use these properties when computing the x and y positions for the points, we provide the radial line generator with custom angle and radius accessor methods.

var data = [
  {angle: 0, radius: 10},
  {angle: Math.PI * .25, radius: 20},
  {angle: Math.PI * .5, radius: 35},
  {angle: Math.PI * .75, radius: 55},
  {angle: Math.PI, radius: 60},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.25, radius: 65},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.5, radius: 70},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.75, radius: 75},
  {angle: Math.PI * 2, radius: 80}];
  
var lineRadial = d3.lineRadial()
  .angle((d) => d.angle)
  .radius((d) => d.radius);
<script>
var data = [
  {angle: 0, radius: 10},
  {angle: Math.PI * .25, radius: 20},
  {angle: Math.PI * .5, radius: 35},
  {angle: Math.PI * .75, radius: 55},
  {angle: Math.PI, radius: 60},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.25, radius: 65},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.5, radius: 70},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.75, radius: 75},
  {angle: Math.PI * 2, radius: 80}];
  
var lineRadial = d3.lineRadial()
  .angle((d) => d.angle)
  .radius((d) => d.radius);
            
d3.select("#demo2")
  .select("g")
  .append("path")
  .attr("d", lineRadial(data))
  .attr("fill", "none")
  .attr("stroke", "black");
</script>

<svg id="demo2" width="200" height="200">
    <g transform="translate(100,100)"></g>
</svg>
Figure 2. Radial line created using custom accessor functions.

Using Bound Data

We can also compute the d attribute of a path element, not by invoking the radial line generator directly, but rather, by joining the data to the path element and then passing the radial line generator as the second argument of selection.attr when setting the d attribute.

d3.select("#demo3")
  .select("g")
  .append("path")
  .data([data])
  .attr("d", lineRadial)
  .attr("fill", "none")
  .attr("stroke", "black");

Note that the dataset is passed to selection.data inside an array and the lineRadial function, not the string returned by lineRadial, is passed to selection.attr.

<script>
var data = [
  {angle: 0, radius: 10},
  {angle: Math.PI * .25, radius: 20},
  {angle: Math.PI * .5, radius: 35},
  {angle: Math.PI * .75, radius: 55},
  {angle: Math.PI, radius: 60},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.25, radius: 65},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.5, radius: 70},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.75, radius: 75},
  {angle: Math.PI * 2, radius: 80}];
  
var lineRadial = d3.lineRadial()
  .angle((d) => d.angle)
  .radius((d) => d.radius);
            
d3.select("#demo3")
  .select("g")
  .append("path")
  .data([data])
  .attr("d", lineRadial)
  .attr("fill", "none")
  .attr("stroke", "black");
</script>

<svg id="demo3" width="200" height="200">
    <g transform="translate(100,100)"></g>
</svg>
Figure 3. Radial line created using bound data.

Excluding Points

Sometimes we may want to exclude certain points on the line. To do this we can set the defined accessor function by calling lineRadial.defined([defined]) on our line generator.

When the radial line generator computes points, it invokes the defined accessor for each element in the dataset, passing it the current data element d, the index of the current element i, and the array of data on which the generator is invoked, data. If the defined accessor evaluates to true, a point is generated for the data element, otherwise the element is ignored. By default, the defined accessor returns true for all elements in the dataset.

In Figure 4 we exclude the points that have angles between 0 and PI by passing a lambda expression to line.defined.

<script>
var data = [
  {angle: 0, radius: 10},
  {angle: Math.PI * .25, radius: 20},
  {angle: Math.PI * .5, radius: 35},
  {angle: Math.PI * .75, radius: 55},
  {angle: Math.PI, radius: 60},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.25, radius: 65},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.5, radius: 70},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.75, radius: 75},
  {angle: Math.PI * 2, radius: 80}];
  
var lineRadial = d3.lineRadial()
  .angle((d) => d.angle)
  .radius((d) => d.radius)
  .defined((d) => d.angle >= Math.PI);
            
d3.select("#demo4")
  .select("g")
  .append("path")
  .attr("d", lineRadial(data))
  .attr("fill", "none")
  .attr("stroke", "black");
</script>

<svg id="demo4" width="200" height="200">
    <g transform="translate(100,100)"></g>
</svg>
Figure 4. Radial line with points omitted.

Curving the Line

To create a curve we need to change the way that the points are interpolated. For this we can call lineRadial.curve([curve]) passing it a predefined curve factory. D3.js provides several curve factories which we discuss in the section on curves.

If lineRadial.curve is called without an argument, the current curve factory is returned, which by default is the d3.curveLinear curve factory.

Figure 5 sets the line generator’s curve factory to d3.curveBasis producing a cubic basis spline.

var lineRadial = d3.lineRadial()
  .angle((d) => d.angle)
  .radius((d) => d.radius)
  .curve(d3.curveBasis);
<script>
var data = [
  {angle: 0, radius: 10},
  {angle: Math.PI * .25, radius: 20},
  {angle: Math.PI * .5, radius: 35},
  {angle: Math.PI * .75, radius: 55},
  {angle: Math.PI, radius: 60},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.25, radius: 65},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.5, radius: 70},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.75, radius: 75},
  {angle: Math.PI * 2, radius: 80}];
  
var lineRadial = d3.lineRadial()
  .angle((d) => d.angle)
  .radius((d) => d.radius)
  .curve(d3.curveBasis);
            
d3.select("#demo5")
  .select("g")
  .append("path")
  .attr("d", lineRadial(data))
  .attr("fill", "none")
  .attr("stroke", "black");
</script>

<svg id="demo5" width="200" height="200">
    <g transform="translate(100,100)"></g>
</svg>
Figure 5. Curved radial line.

Rendering Lines to a Context

We can render the line in a canvas element’s context by using lineRadial.context([context]).

If no argument is passed to lineRadial.context, the method returns the current context, which by default is null. If, however, a context is passed to lineRadial.context, the line will be rendered in the context when the line generator is invoke.

In Figure 6, we retrieve the context of the canvas element, then create the line generator and call line.context to set the context.

var context = d3.select("#demo6").node().getContext("2d");

var lineRadial = d3.lineRadial()
  .angle((d) => d.angle)
  .radius((d) => d.radius)
  .context(context);

We then render the line by invoking the line generator, setting the stroke color, and calling context.stroke.

context.translate(100,100);              
lineRadial(data);
context.stroke();
<script>
var data = [
  {angle: 0, radius: 10},
  {angle: Math.PI * .25, radius: 20},
  {angle: Math.PI * .5, radius: 35},
  {angle: Math.PI * .75, radius: 55},
  {angle: Math.PI, radius: 60},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.25, radius: 65},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.5, radius: 70},
  {angle: Math.PI * 1.75, radius: 75},
  {angle: Math.PI * 2, radius: 80}];
  
var context = d3.select("#demo6").node().getContext("2d");

var lineRadial = d3.lineRadial()
  .angle((d) => d.angle)
  .radius((d) => d.radius)
  .context(context);
         
context.translate(100,100);              
lineRadial(data);
context.stroke();
</script>

<canvas id="demo6" width="200" height="200"></canvas>
Figure 6. Radial line rendered to a context.