Observablejs

August 7, 2022 — August 7, 2022

computers are awful
dataviz
javascript
photon choreography
ui
Figure 1

observablejs combines some features of FRP and some of javascript visualisation and UIs and data dashboards into a single tool.

A large friendly ecosystem of interactive browser-based interactive visualisation tools built on top of D3

Observable Plot is a free, open-source JavaScript library to help you quickly visualize tabular data. It has a concise and (hopefully) memorable API to foster fluency — and plenty of examples to learn from and copy-paste.

The result is a kind of scientific workbook with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths:

  1. “More” interactive than most; the tools can be executed in the browser and that means that interative user widgets are easy
  2. Light dependencies; it seems to run without a complicated install package like, e.g. python alternatives, and there is a free host for notebooks
  3. visualisations are rather pretty

Weaknesses

  1. Statistical tools are not powerful (basically only javascript stuff runs)
  2. If one of the default visualisations works for you, great, but if not, building a new one is tedious

See the intro.

1 Observable Plot for Mathematicians

Mark McClure explains Observable Plot for mathematicians. tl;dr: It is feasible but we are not the target audience so there is a lot of manual labour. His Adaptive plotter deos a lot of it. See, e.g. his lecture on the normal model.

Transforms are a workhorse for some data processing.

2 Docs I am currently reading

2.1 Plotting

2.2 Interactivity

3 Language

Observable’s not JavaScript * Observable Documentation * How Observable Runs

4 Quarto support

Observable suports quarto, or is that the other way around? See Using Observable.