Getting Started with billboard.js charts

May 29, 2021

billboard.js is a JavaScript library that facilitates data visualization in charts and is based on D3 V4+. billboad.js makes it easier for developers to visualize data instantly without needing to write a lot of boilerplate code.

Table of contents

Prerequisites

Project setup

  • Create a project directory named charts.
  • Within the charts directory created above, create a new HTML file name index.html.

Installing billboard.js

billboard.js can be added to a project in two ways:

  1. Manual download Download billboad.js files from the billboard.js official website. Add the CSS and Javascript files downloaded into the chart directory we created above.

In the index.html, add the code snippet below into the header section.

   <!-- Load D3.js -->
    <script src="https://d3js.org/d3.v5.min.js"></script>

    <!-- Load billboard.js -->
    <script src="billboard.js"></script>

    <!-- Load style -->
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="billboard.css">
  1. Installation through npm. To install billboard.js into our project through npm, we must initialize npm in the root directory of our project.
  • Change to current terminal directory to our project directory.
  • Execute the command below to create package.json and package.lock.json files which are used by Node.js to manage external libraries added to Node.js applications.
    $ npm init
  • To install billboard.js into our project through npm, execute the command below.
    $ npm install billboard.js

Supported chart types in billboard.js

billboard.js supports a variety of charts. Below are certain chart types supported by billboard.js.

Chart types

Creating charts using billboard.js

In this section, we are going to create a simple chart using billboard.js.

  1. Create an HTML file names chart.html in the project folder we created above.
  2. Add the code snippet below to the chart.html file.
   <!DOCTYPE html>

    <title>billboard.js application</title>

    <head>
    <!-- loading billboard.js styles from the cdn -->
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/billboard.js/dist/billboard.min.css">

    <!--Loading D3.js -->
    <script src="https://d3js.org/d3.v5.min.js"></script>

    <!-- Loading billboard.js scripts from the cdn --> 
    <script src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/billboard.js/dist/billboard.min.js"></script>
    </head>
    <body>

    </body>

    </html>

  1. Create a div with an id charting within the body tag in the chart.html file we created above.
   <div id="charting"></div>
  1. Create a file named charting.js in the root project directory and add the code snippet below.
   bb.generate({
    bindto: "#charting",
    data: {
        columns: [
            ["Java", 10, 320, 400, 210, 90, 210],
            ["Python", 310, 200, 210, 24, 220, 30]
        ],
        types: {
          Java: "area-spline",
          Python: "step"
        },
        colors: {
          Java: "blue",
          Python: "green"
        }
    }
    });
  • bb.generate({}) generates a chart with the arguments passed to it.
  • bindto: "#charting" holds the div id where the chart will be displayed in our HTML file.
  • data holds an object with all the information required to create the chart.
  • columns hold the data from which the chart will be plotted.
  • types indicates the type of chart to be used. In our chart, we are using a line chart for Java and a step-chart for Python.
  • colors specifies the color in which each data will be presented.
  1. Add the charting.js script to the chart.html file at the bottom of the body tag.
   <script src="charting.js"></script>

The chart shown below is plotted.

Chart Image

Displaying categorical data using billboard.js

When a large set of data is to be displayed, then displaying them in categories becomes handy.

  • Create a div with id categorical in the chart.html file we created earlier.
  • Create a Javascript file named categorical.js in the project directory.
  • Add the code snippet below to the file created above.
   var chart = bb.generate({
    bindto: "#categorical",
    data: {
    x: "x",
    columns: [
        ["x", "www.siteone.com", "www.sitetwo.com", "www.sitethree.com", "www.sitefour.com"],
        ["downloads", 50, 100, 200, 600],
        ["uploads", 80, 110, 150, 220]
    ],
    groups: [
      [
        "downloads",
        "loading"
      ]
    ],
        colors: {
          downloads: "blue",
          uploads: "green"
        },
    type: "bar",
    },
    axis: {
        x: {
        type: "category"
        }
    },
    bindto: "#categoryData"
    });

The categorical data above is displayed in the chart as shown in the image below.

Image with Categorical data

Chart themes in billboard.js

billboard.js comes with various themes, some of which include:

  • graph
  • datalab
  • insight
  • default

To use the above themes, load the CSS file provided by billboard.js into your HTML file as shown below.

<link rel="stylesheet" href="
https://naver.github.io/billboard.js/release/latest/dist/theme/insight.css">

Conclusion

Now that you have learned how to integrate billboard.js into a Node.js application, explore the available charts and themes from the billboard.js official docs.

Find the full source code of the application here.

Happy coding!


Peer Review Contributions by: Odhiambo Paul


About the author

Quinter Awuor

Quinter is an undergraduate student at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology University. She is an aspiring medical biotechnologist exploring beyond boundaries. Her advocations include reading and travelling.

This article was contributed by a student member of Section's Engineering Education Program. Please report any errors or innaccuracies to enged@section.io.