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D3.js vs three.js: What are the differences?

D3.js and three.js are both JavaScript libraries that are commonly used to create data visualizations and interactive 3D graphics on the web. Let's discuss the key differences between them.

  1. Language Focus: D3.js (Data-Driven Documents) is primarily focused on manipulating documents based on data. It provides a powerful set of tools for data visualization and offers a wide range of options for creating custom charts, graphs, and maps. On the other hand, three.js is a library that focuses on creating interactive 3D graphics. It provides a simplified way to work with 3D objects, scenes, lights, and materials.

  2. Data-driven vs Object-driven: One of the fundamental differences between D3.js and three.js is their approach to data and objects. D3.js is built around the concept of data binding, where data is mapped to HTML or SVG elements, enabling dynamic updates and transitions. In contrast, three.js is object-oriented, allowing developers to create and manipulate 3D objects directly.

  3. Rendering Techniques: D3.js primarily uses SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) for rendering, which provides a powerful and flexible way to create vector-based graphics. This makes it well-suited for creating interactive and responsive visualizations. On the other hand, three.js uses WebGL, a JavaScript API for rendering interactive 3D graphics without relying on plugins. WebGL provides efficient access to the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), allowing for the creation of complex 3D scenes with high-performance rendering capabilities.

  4. Level of Abstraction: D3.js provides a lower level of abstraction compared to three.js. It allows developers to have fine-grained control over the creation and manipulation of individual elements, giving them the flexibility to create highly customized visualizations. In contrast, three.js abstracts away many of the low-level details of 3D programming, providing a higher level of abstraction that makes it easier to create 3D scenes without needing extensive knowledge of the underlying graphics programming concepts.

  5. Community and Ecosystem: D3.js has a larger and more mature community compared to three.js. It has been around for a longer time and has a larger user base, which means there are more resources, tutorials, and examples available. On the other hand, three.js has a strong and active community that is focused on 3D graphics and game development. It has a vibrant ecosystem with a wide range of plugins, extensions, and community-contributed resources.

  6. Use Cases: D3.js is widely used for creating a variety of data visualizations, including interactive charts, graphs, and maps. It is commonly used in data analysis, data journalism, and business intelligence applications. In contrast, three.js is primarily used for creating interactive 3D graphics, such as 3D games, virtual reality (VR) experiences, and architectural visualizations. It is commonly used in the gaming, entertainment, and immersive technology industries.

In summary, while D3.js is primarily focused on data visualization and uses SVG for rendering, three.js is focused on 3D graphics and uses WebGL for rendering. D3.js provides a lower level of abstraction and has a larger and more mature community, while three.js provides a higher level of abstraction and has a strong community focused on 3D graphics and game development.

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Pros of D3.js
Pros of three.js
  • 195
    Beautiful visualizations
  • 103
    Svg
  • 92
    Data-driven
  • 81
    Large set of examples
  • 61
    Data-driven documents
  • 24
    Visualization components
  • 20
    Transitions
  • 18
    Dynamic properties
  • 16
    Plugins
  • 11
    Transformation
  • 7
    Makes data interactive
  • 4
    Open Source
  • 4
    Enter and Exit
  • 4
    Components
  • 3
    Exhaustive
  • 3
    Backed by the new york times
  • 2
    Easy and beautiful
  • 1
    Highly customizable
  • 1
    Awesome Community Support
  • 1
    Simple elegance
  • 1
    Templates, force template
  • 1
    Angular 4
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    Cons of D3.js
    Cons of three.js
    • 11
      Beginners cant understand at all
    • 6
      Complex syntax
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      What is D3.js?

      It is a JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data. Emphasises on web standards gives you the full capabilities of modern browsers without tying yourself to a proprietary framework.

      What is three.js?

      It is a cross-browser JavaScript library and Application Programming Interface used to create and display animated 3D computer graphics in a web browser.

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      Blog Posts

      Sep 8 2017 at 2:54PM

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      What are some alternatives to D3.js and three.js?
      Plotly.js
      It is a standalone Javascript data visualization library, and it also powers the Python and R modules named plotly in those respective ecosystems (referred to as Plotly.py and Plotly.R). It can be used to produce dozens of chart types and visualizations, including statistical charts, 3D graphs, scientific charts, SVG and tile maps, financial charts and more.
      Highcharts
      Highcharts currently supports line, spline, area, areaspline, column, bar, pie, scatter, angular gauges, arearange, areasplinerange, columnrange, bubble, box plot, error bars, funnel, waterfall and polar chart types.
      Python
      Python is a general purpose programming language created by Guido Van Rossum. Python is most praised for its elegant syntax and readable code, if you are just beginning your programming career python suits you best.
      Tableau
      Tableau can help anyone see and understand their data. Connect to almost any database, drag and drop to create visualizations, and share with a click.
      Bokeh
      Bokeh is an interactive visualization library for modern web browsers. It provides elegant, concise construction of versatile graphics, and affords high-performance interactivity over large or streaming datasets.
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