book

Server-Side Visualization With Nightmare

This is an extract from chapter 11 of Ashley Davis’s book Data Wrangling with JavaScript now available on the Manning Early Access Program. I absolutely love this idea as there is so much data visualization stuff on the web that relies on fully functioning client side JavaScript and potentially more API calls. It’s not nearly as robust, accessible, or syndicatable as it could be. If you bring that data visualization back to the server, you can bring progressive enhancement to the party. All example code and data can be found on GitHub.

When doing exploratory coding or data analysis in Node.js it is very useful to be able to render a visualization from our data. If we were working in browser-based JavaScript we could choose any one of the many charting, graphics, and visualization libraries. Unfortunately, under Node.js, we don’t have any viable options, so how otherwise can we achieve this?

We could try something like faking the DOM under Node.js, but I found a better way. We can make our browser-based visualization libraries work for us under Node.js using a headless browser. This is a browser that has no user interface. You can think of it as a browser that is invisible.

I use Nightmare under Node.js to capture visualizations to PNG and PDF files and it works really well!

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Creating a Book Cover Using JavaScript and p5.js

I recently published a book and an interactive course called Coding for Visual Learners. It teaches coding to beginners from scratch using the widely popular JavaScript programming language and the p5.js programming library. Since p5.js a great and an easy to use drawing library, I wanted to make use of it to create the cover of my book and course as well. This is a tutorial on how to create this particular visual using JavaScript and p5.js.

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Clean Code JavaScript

Inspired by Robert C. Martin's book Clean Code, Ryan McDermott put together a repo with some software engineering best practices as they apply to JavaScript in particular. The repo has tons of great guidelines for beginning programmers, and good reminders for seasoned maintainers.

I'm a particular fan of this style of teaching because it focuses on legibility as much as writing. This ensures that our codebases are friendly to the next developer who comes along, even if it's ourselves.

Demystifying Public Speaking

A new book by Lara Hogan includes some of my favorite advice about public speaking:

As you stand on the stage, remember: your audience is anticipating you’ll be successful at giving this talk. To them, everything has been well thought-out and prepared; they walk in assuming (rightly!) they’re going to learn something new or be inspired...and you’re the person who’ll show them how.

More, they want you to be successful and are quite forgiving. In my experience, you only lose them once you disrespect them (e.g. "Sorry if I'm not very prepared, I wrote this on the flight over here." annnnnd you've lost me.)

Hey while you're over at the A Book Apart store buying this, I heard this one is good.

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