Chapter 05Areas and Area Radials

In this tutorial we will discuss how to draw areas and area radials. Areas can be used on their own or with stacks.

Areas

D3 provides d3.area(), a method that returns an area generator that is used to create areas.

An area is a path that can be thought of as the enclosure between two lines. These two “lines” are created by setting an x value, which is the same for each point on the lines, and two y values, y0 and y1, which are the bottom lines y position and the top lines y position respectively.

Like lines, we have an area generator, d3.area() which has a accessors we can call to set how the area is generated. We pass data into an area generator and it returns back a string that can be used inside a path d attribute.

However unlike lines, areas make two points for every set of data passed into it. These points create the upper and lower “lines” or bounds that our area encloses. The first point uses y0 and is used as the lower bounds of the graph. The second point uses y1 and is used as the upper bounds. Both points use the same x position.

For our examples we will be using the same array of data and scales that we used with lines:

var data = [
    {x: 0, y: 0},
    {x: 1, y: 3},
    {x: 2, y: 12},
    {x: 3, y: 8},
    {x: 4, y: 17},
    {x: 5, y: 15},
    {x: 6, y: 20}];

var xScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([25, 175]);
var yScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([175, 25]);

Next, we will create an area generator and set the x, y0 (lower bounds), and y1 (upper bounds) accessors:

var area = d3.area()
      .x(d => xScale(d.x))
      .y0(yScale(0))
      .y1(d => yScale(d.y));

And finally, just like we did with lines, we will append a path element and call area(data) in our d attribute. However this time we need to make sure to set a color in our fill attribute to show the area filled in.

d3.select("#demo")
    .append("path")
    .attr("d", area(data))
    .attr("fill", "red")
    .attr("stroke", "black");

In Figure 1 we use these code snippets to create an area. We also set the fill of the area to red.

<script>
 var data = [
    {x: 0, y: 0},
    {x: 1, y: 3},
    {x: 2, y: 12},
    {x: 3, y: 8},
    {x: 4, y: 17},
    {x: 5, y: 15},
    {x: 6, y: 20}];

   var xScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([25, 175]);
   var yScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([175, 25]);

   var area = d3.area()
      .x(d => xScale(d.x))
      .y0(yScale(0))
      .y1(d => yScale(d.y));

   d3.select("#demo1")
    .append("path")
    .attr("d", area(data))
    .attr("fill", "red")
    .attr("stroke", "black");
</script>

<svg id="demo1" width="200" height="200"></svg>
Figure 1 - An area created by setting the x, y0, and y1 accessors of d3.area.

Setting the lower bounds

Many times we will not want our lower bounds to be 0. Instead of setting y0 to 0 we can instead set it to whatever custom value, property, or method we choose.

In Figure 2 we set y0 to be one-third of y1.

<script>
 var data = [
    {x: 0, y: 0},
    {x: 1, y: 3},
    {x: 2, y: 12},
    {x: 3, y: 8},
    {x: 4, y: 17},
    {x: 5, y: 15},
    {x: 6, y: 20}];

   var xScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([25, 175]);
   var yScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([175, 25]);

   var area = d3.area()
      .x(d => xScale(d.x))
      .y0(d => yScale(d.y / 3))
      .y1(d => yScale(d.y));

   d3.select("#demo2")
    .append("path")
    .attr("d", area(data))
    .attr("fill", "red")
    .attr("stroke", "black");
</script>

<svg id="demo2" width="200" height="200"></svg>
Figure 2 - An area with y0 set to be one-third of y1.

Setting x0 and x1

Setting x, y0, and y1 is useful for creating left-to-right orientated areas, but to create a bottom-to-top orientated area we use different accessors.

The new accessors y, x0, and x1 work very similarly to the previous accessors. Instead of y0 and y1 being the lower/upper bounds, we now have x0 and x1 to be our right/left bounds. When using the new accessors (along with an updated scale) we are effectively rotating our area 90 degrees from the original area.

All we need to change is the accessors in our area generator and the xScale:

var xScale = d3.scale.Linear().domain([0,6]).range([175, 25]);

var area = d3.area()
      .y(d => xScale(d.x))
      .x0(d => yScale(d.y / 3))
      .x1(d => yScale(d.y));

Note: It may seem weird to use the xScale and d.x in our y accessor, we are doing this so it acts like a rotation of our original data without renaming our data.

In Figure 3 we use y, x0, and x1 to make a new area where it is orientated bottom-to-top with the baseline on the right side.

<script>
 var data = [
    {x: 0, y: 0},
    {x: 1, y: 3},
    {x: 2, y: 12},
    {x: 3, y: 8},
    {x: 4, y: 17},
    {x: 5, y: 15},
    {x: 6, y: 20}];

   var xScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([175, 25]);
   var yScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([175, 25]);

   var area = d3.area()
      .y(d => xScale(d.x))
      .x0(d => yScale(d.y / 3))
      .x1(d => yScale(d.y));

   d3.select("#demo3")
    .append("path")
    .attr("d", area(data))
    .attr("fill", "red")
    .attr("stroke", "black");
</script>

<svg id="demo3" width="200" height="200"></svg>
Figure 3 - An area created by setting the y, x0, and x1 accessors of d3.area.

Curve and Defined

Just like with lines we have areas have curve and defined accessors:

In Figure 4 we use the following code to omit the fifth point and apply a curve to the area.

var area = d3.area()
      .x(d => xScale(d.x))
      .y0(yScale(0))
      .y1(d => yScale(d.y))
      .curve(d3.curveBasis)
      .defined((d,i) => (i != 4);
<script>
 var data = [
    {x: 0, y: 0},
    {x: 1, y: 3},
    {x: 2, y: 12},
    {x: 3, y: 8},
    {x: 4, y: 17},
    {x: 5, y: 15},
    {x: 6, y: 20}];

   var xScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([25, 175]);
   var yScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([175, 25]);

   var area = d3.area()
     .x(d => xScale(d.x))
     .y0(d => yScale(d.y / 3))
     .y1(d => yScale(d.y))
     .curve(d3.curveBasis)
     .defined((d,i) => (i != 4));

   d3.select("#demo4")
    .append("path")
    .attr("d", area(data))
    .attr("fill", "red")
    .attr("stroke", "black");
</script>

<svg id="demo4" width="200" height="200"></svg>
Figure 4 - An area with the fifth element removed and a curve applied.

Area Radials

D3.js also has an area radial generator that works like line radial.

Since d3.areaRadial is an area, it can still be thought of as being the enclosure between two line radials. These line radials will have identical angles (formerly x) for each of there respective points, and now instead of y0 and y1 separating our lines, innerRadius and outerRadius will.

In Figure 5 we create an area radial by converting the scales and d3.area accessors into d3.areaRadial compatible ones.

To start we will change our ranges to work with the angles and radii:

var angleScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([0, 2 * Math.PI]);
var radiiScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([90,30]);

Next we will convert the area accessors into the new area radial accessors:

.x()  => .angle()
.y0() => .innerRadius()
.y1() => .outerRadius()
<script>
 var data = [
    {x: 0, y: 0},
    {x: 1, y: 3},
    {x: 2, y: 12},
    {x: 3, y: 8},
    {x: 4, y: 17},
    {x: 5, y: 15},
    {x: 6, y: 20}];

   var xScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([0, 2 * Math.PI]);
   var yScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([90,30]);

   var areaRadial = d3.areaRadial()
     .angle(d => xScale(d.x))
     .innerRadius(d => yScale(d.y / 3))
     .outerRadius(d => yScale(d.y));

   d3.select("#demo5")
    .select("g")
    .append("path")
    .attr("d", areaRadial(data))
    .attr("fill", "red")
    .attr("stroke", "black");
</script>

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

We can also use .curve() and .defined() with area radials exactly like we did for areas.

Figure 6 is identical to Figure 5 except that a curve is applied and the fifth point is omitted.

<script>
 var data = [
    {x: 0, y: 0},
    {x: 1, y: 3},
    {x: 2, y: 12},
    {x: 3, y: 8},
    {x: 4, y: 17},
    {x: 5, y: 15},
    {x: 6, y: 20}];

   var xScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([0, 2 * Math.PI]);
   var yScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([90,30]);

   var areaRadial = d3.areaRadial()
     .angle(d => xScale(d.x))
     .innerRadius(d => yScale(d.y / 3))
     .outerRadius(d => yScale(d.y))
     .curve(d3.curveBasis)
     .defined((d,i) => (i != 4));

   d3.select("#demo6")
    .select("g")
    .append("path")
    .attr("d", areaRadial(data))
    .attr("fill", "red")
    .attr("stroke", "black");
</script>

<svg id="demo6" width="200" height="200">
<g transform="translate(100,100)"></g>
</svg>
Figure 6 - An area radial with the fifth element removed and a curve applied.

Cavnasses

Our examples in the section all use an SVG as the graphic medium. If we want to work with a Canvas instead, we just pass in the context of a canvas into the .context() accessor of area or areaRadial.

In Figure 7 we use the same areas in Figure 2 and 5, but apply them to a canvas instead. Note that we have to use additional CanvasPathMethods for our graphics to display.

<script>
    var data = [
        {x: 0, y: 0},
        {x: 1, y: 3},
        {x: 2, y: 12},
        {x: 3, y: 8},
        {x: 4, y: 17},
        {x: 5, y: 15},
        {x: 6, y: 20}];
        
    var xScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([25, 175]);
    var yScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([175, 25]);
    var angleScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([0, 2 * Math.PI]);
    var radiiScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([90,30]);
    
    //Begin adding area
    var areaContext = d3.select("#demo7a").node().getContext("2d");
    
    var area = d3.area()
      .x(d => xScale(d.x))
      .y0(d => yScale(d.y / 3))
      .y1(d => yScale(d.y))
      .context(areaContext);
    
    areaContext.beginPath();
    areaContext.strokeStyle = "black";
    areaContext.fillStyle = "red";
    area(data);
    areaContext.fill();
    areaContext.stroke();
    
    //Begin adding area radial
    var radialContext = d3.select("#demo7b").node().getContext("2d");
    
    var areaRadial = d3.areaRadial()
         .angle(d => angleScale(d.x))
         .innerRadius(d => radiiScale(d.y / 3))
         .outerRadius(d => radiiScale(d.y))
         .context(radialContext);
         
    radialContext.translate(100,100);
    radialContext.beginPath();
    radialContext.strokeStyle = "black";
    radialContext.fillStyle = "red";
    areaRadial(data);
    radialContext.fill();
    radialContext.stroke();
</script>
<canvas id="demo7a" width=200 height=200></canvas>
<canvas id="demo7b" width=200 height=200></canvas>
Figure 7 - Canvas versions of Figure 2 (left) and Figure 5 (right).

d3.arealabel

Many times it is useful to the viewers of our visualizations to have labels indicating what every line or area represents. Luckily, Curran Kelleher created d3-area-label to dynamically add text labels inside of an area.

This module is not apart of the main D3.js files so we will have to separately add it to our page:

<script src="https://unpkg.com/d3-area-label@1.5.0/build/d3-area-label.js"></script>

d3.arealabel is a generator with many accessors on it to determine size, conditions, and format of the labels to add. To create a label we need to either pass the generator an area, or redefine an area to use. Note that d3.areaLabel only works on left-to-right areas (areas that use x, y0, and y1).

var areaLabel = d3.areaLabel().area(areaGen);

d3.areaLabel works by first finding the bounding box or aspect ratio around a particular text element. Next, d3.areaLabel will use a bisection method to find the maximum size rectangle with the same aspect ratio as the text that fits within an area. Finally, d3.areaLabel modifies the transform attribute of a text element, so it returns a string that can be used when modifying the transorm that properly places the label where it should be.

selection
    .append("text")
    .text("Area")
    .attr("transform", areaLabel([dataSet]);

In Figure 8 we apply a label with the text “Area” to the same are awe have been using above. Try changing the text to see how d3.areaLabel dynamically changes the positioning and size.

<script>
    var data = [
        {x: 0, y: 0},
        {x: 1, y: 3},
        {x: 2, y: 12},
        {x: 3, y: 8},
        {x: 4, y: 17},
        {x: 5, y: 15},
        {x: 6, y: 20}];
    
    var xScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([25, 175]);
    var yScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([175, 25]);
    
    var area = d3.area()
        .x(d => xScale(d.x))
        .y0(d => yScale(d.y / 3))
        .y1(d => yScale(d.y));
    
    d3.select("#demo8")
        .append("path")
        .attr("d", area(data))
        .attr("fill", "red")
        .attr("stroke", "black");
    
    var areaLabel = d3.areaLabel(area);
    
    d3.select("#demo8")
        .data([data])
        .append("text")
        .text("Area")
        .attr("transform", areaLabel);
</script>
<svg id="demo8" width=200 height=200></svg>
Figure 8 - An area with the label "Area" added with d3.areaLabel.

For most cases we will already have an instance of a d3.area generator so we can use d3.areaLabal([area]), however if for some reason we do not have an area generator, need to redefine an accessor, or get an accessor d3.areaLabel provides us with the following additional methods:

Format

When working with many areas (such as in the next section stacks) we may have areas that are very thin. Applying a label to these thin areas is not always the best idea since we will not be able to actually read them. We can use areaLabel.minHeight to exclude labels that are smaller than a specified height.

An example areaLabel.minHeight can be seen in the next section, stacks.

Accuracy

Sometimes d3.areaLabel may output unoptimized or inaccurate positions/scales. In these cases d3.areaLabel provides us with additional accessors to adjust how the placement and positioning is found.

When finding the maximum size rectangle, d3.areaLabel looks at a set amount of x values as leftmost side for the rectangle and goes right from this x position to find the largest rectangle. We can set what x values d3.areaLabel looks at if the default values produce innaccurate positions or if our visualizations take too long to load.

areaLabel.interpolate(interpolate) takes a boolean value and determines whether or not the area label generator will use linear interpolation to compute label positions.

If set to false, the only x positions that will be used as a left-most side of a rectangle will be the x values in the data set. If we have a large amount of evenly spaced x values in our data set, setting this to false works well.

If set to true, the area label generator will use a linear interpolation over the data sets x positions to find a set amount (interpolateResolution) of coordinates.

For instance if we have the x values [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] in our data set and we set interpolateResolution to 10 then our area generator will try to find the maximum size rectangle with the left side of the rectangle at positions: [1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5]

For large evenly spaced data, setting areaLabel.interpolate to false will work well. However, setting this to false for smaller sets of data will not produce the best positioned labels.

Setting areaLabel.interpolate to true helps smaller data sets have better positioned labels. However when used on larger data sets it can be taxing on our computers, so if our visualizations are taking some time to load, setting to false may be a better option.

areaLabel.interpolate is true by default.

areaLabel.interpolateResolution(interpolateResolution) sets how many positions will be used as the left-most side of any rectangles checked for maximum size. It only works when areaLabel.interpolate is set to true.

areaLabel.interpolateResolution is 200 by default.

areaLabel.interpolate and areaLabel.interpolateResolution should really only be changed if we notice any oddities in the placements of our labels.

Padding

We can apply a padding to each of the sides of the text within its’ bounding box. When applying a padding, we should make sure to not use large paddings that make the label hard to read. It is also important to remember that each padding should be set to a value from 0 to 1; larger values will technically work still, but will result in text labels usually too small to read. The default value for each padding is 0.

var areaLabel = d3.areaLabel([area1]).paddingLeft(5);

d3.areaLabel also provides us with the following shortcut accessors:

In Figure 9 we apply a padding to every side by using areaLabel.padding.

<script>
    var data = [
        {x: 0, y: 0},
        {x: 1, y: 3},
        {x: 2, y: 12},
        {x: 3, y: 8},
        {x: 4, y: 17},
        {x: 5, y: 15},
        {x: 6, y: 20}];
    
    var xScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0, 6]).range([25, 175]);
    var yScale = d3.scaleLinear().domain([0,20]).range([175, 25]);
    
    var area = d3.area()
        .x(d => xScale(d.x))
        .y0(d => yScale(d.y / 3))
        .y1(d => yScale(d.y));
    
    d3.select("#demo9")
        .append("path")
        .attr("d", area(data))
        .attr("fill", "red")
        .attr("stroke", "black");
    
    var areaLabel = d3.areaLabel().area(area).padding(.5);
    
    d3.select("#demo9")
        .data([data])
        .append("text")
        .text("Area")
        .attr("transform", areaLabel);
</script>
<svg id="demo9" width=200 height=200></svg>
Figure 9 - An area with the label "Area" and a padding of 15px on every side.