Data Visualization Toolkit: Using Javascript, Rails, And Postgres To Present Data And Geospatial…

Paperback | August 18, 2016

byBarrett Clark

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Create Beautiful Visualizations that Free Your Data to Tell Powerful Truths

“The depth of Barrett Clark’s knowledge shines through in his writing: clear, concise, and confident. Barrett has been practicing all of this stuff in his day job for many years–Postgres, D3, GIS, all of it. The knowledge in this book is real-world and hard-earned!”

–From the Foreword by Obie Fernandez

Data Visualization Toolkit is your hands-on, practical, and holistic guide to the art of visualizing data. You’ll learn how to use Rails, jQuery, D3, Leaflet, PostgreSQL, and PostGIS together, creating beautiful visualizations and maps that give your data a voice and to make it “dance.”


Barrett Clark teaches through real-world problems and examples developed specifically to illuminate every technique you need to generate stunningly effective visualizations. You’ll move from the absolute basics toward deep dives, mastering diverse visualizations and discovering when to use each. Along the way, you’ll build three start-to-finish visualization applications, using actual real estate, weather, and travel datasets.


Clark addresses every component of data visualization: your data, database, application server, visualization libraries, and more. He explains data transformations; presents expert techniques in JavaScript, Ruby, and SQL; and illuminates key concepts associated with both descriptive statistics and geospatial data. Throughout, everything is aimed at one goal: to help you cut through the clutter and let your data tell all it can.


This guide will help you

  • Explore and understand the data visualization technology stack
  • Master the thought process and steps involved in importing data
  • Extract, transform, and load data in usable, reliable form
  • Handle spotty data, or data that doesn’t line up with what your chart expects
  • Use D3 to build pie and bar charts, scatter and box plots, and more
  • Work effectively with time-series data
  • Tweak Ruby and SQL to optimize performance with large datasets
  • Use raw SQL in Rails: window functions, subqueries, and common table expressions
  • Build chord diagrams and time-series aggregates
  • Use separate databases or schema for reporting databases
  • Integrate geographical data via geospatial SQL queries
  • Construct maps with Leaflet and Rails
  • Query geospatial data the “Rails way” and the “raw SQL way”

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From the Publisher

Create Beautiful Visualizations that Free Your Data to Tell Powerful Truths “The depth of Barrett Clark’s knowledge shines through in his writing: clear, concise, and confident. Barrett has been practicing all of this stuff in his day job for many years–Postgres, D3, GIS, all of it. The knowledge in this book is real-world and...

Barrett Clark is a Rubyist turned polyglot software developer. Now at Sabre Labs, an emerging travel technology incubator and research lab, Clark works to make meaningful change in the travel industry. He has worked extensively with mapping, geolocation, indoor location, and proximity. His recent speaking engagements include Mountain...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8.9 × 6.9 × 0.6 inPublished:August 18, 2016Publisher:Pearson EducationLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0134464435

ISBN - 13:9780134464435


Extra Content

Table of Contents

Foreword xv

Preface xvii

Acknowledgments xxiii

About the Author xxv


Part I: ActiveRecord and D3 1

Chapter 1: D3 and Rails 3

Your Toolbox—A Three-Ring Circus 3

Maryland Residential Sales App 5

Summary 17


Chapter 2: Transforming Data with ActiveRecord and D3 19

Pie Chart Revisited 19

Bar Chart 24

Scatter Plot 28

Scatter Plot Revisited 33

Box Plot 34

Summary 40


Chapter 3: Working with Time Series Data 41

Historic Daily Weather Data 41

Weather Rails App 42

Simple Line Graph 45

Tweak 1: Simple Multiline Graph 50

Tweak 2: Add Circle to Highlight the Maximum Temperature 51

Tweak 3: Add Circle to Highlight the Minimum Temperature 53

Tweak 4: Add Text to Display the Temperature Change 55

Tweak 5: Add a Line Between the Focus Circles 56

Summary 58


Chapter 4: Working with Large Datasets 59

Git and Large Files 59

The Cloud 60

Hotlinking 60

Benchmarking 62

Querying “Big Data” 65

When Benchmarks and Statistics Lie 68

Summary 69


Part II: Using SQL in Rails 71

Chapter 5: Window Functions, Subqueries, and Common Table Expression 73

Why Use SQL? 73

User-Defined Functions 75

How to Use SQL in Rails 78

Scatter Plot with Mortgage Payment 79

Window Functions 81

Using Subqueries 84

Common Table Expression 84

CTE and the Heatmap 86

Summary 90


Chapter 6: The Chord Diagram 93

The Matrix Is the Truth 93

Flight Departures Data 94

Departures App 95

Transforming the Data 101

Create the Views 104

Draw the Chord Diagram 106

Disjointed City Pairs 108

Summary 113


Chapter 7: Time Series Aggregates in Postgres 115

Finding Flight Segments 115

Graphing the Timeline 121

Summary 127


Chapter 8: Using a Separate Reporting Database 129

Transactional versus Reporting Databases 129

Working with Multiple Schemas in Rails 131

Creating Objects in the Reporting Schema 132

Summary 138


Part III: Geospatial Rails 139

Chapter 9: Working with Geospatial Data in Rails 141

GIS Primer 141

PostGIS 144

ActiveRecord and PostGIS 146

Using Geospatial Data in Rails 147

Working with Shapefiles 150

Summary 154


Chapter 10: Making Maps with Leaflet and Rails 155

Leaflet 155

Incorporating Leaflet into Rails to Visualize Weather Stations 157

Visualizing Airports 163

Visualizing Zip Codes 168

Summary 181


Chapter 11: Querying Geospatial Data 183

Finding Items within a Bounding Box 183

Writing a Bounding Box Query 184

Finding Items Near a Point 187

Calculating Distance 190

Summary 191


Afterword 193


Appendix A: Ruby and Rails Setup 195

Install Ruby 195

Finalize the Setup 199


Appendix B: Brief Postgres Overview 201

Installing Postgres 201

SQL Tools 202

Bulk Importing Data 202

The Query Plan 204


Appendix C: SQL Join Overview 207

Join Example Database Setup 207

Inner Join 207

Left Outer Join 208

Right Outer Join 208

Full Outer Join 209

Cross Join 209

Self Join 209


Index 211