Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Show HN: Textures.js, SVG Patterns for Data Visualization (riccardoscalco.github.io)
404 points by ricsca on March 18, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 61 comments

This is lovely. When I see this, I don't think 'patterns', rather, 'hatches'.

Makes me wonder what the state of modern SVG is w.r.t. real-world units - something like this really makes SVG look useful for for technical drawing, but pixels are not the best unit to draw to...

Hmm, an Asymptote to SVG renderer would be pretty useful for displaying mathematical diagrams on the web.

I never like how they chain methods. A better way would be:

    texture({lines: true, heavier: true, stroke: 'red'})
Is easier to configure if you need reusable textures.

Aren’t these textures already reusable? The constructed texture object (the result of textures.lines(), e.g.) can be called on as many selections as you like to reuse it.

I feel it’s a matter of taste, but one practical reason I prefer chaining to configuration objects is that you get a runtime error when you misspell a property, rather than it being silently ignored.

Image you have an UI which talks to this. For example you have a button on/off. How would you do?

    var t = texture().lines().stroke('red')
    if(this.button.on) t= texture.heavier()
Compare the previous with this one.

    var t = texture({lines: true, heavier: this.button.on, stroke: 'red'})
I also hate the non standard constructor: this should be like this

    var texture = new Texture({lines: true, heavier: this.button.on, stroke: 'red'});

"heavier: this.button.on" has ambiguous semantics. Do libraries really use this pattern?

Also, use of the "new" keyword is contentious. You can hardly pretend that it is best practice.

It should be

    var t = texture().lines().stroke('red')
    if(this.button.on) t.heavier()

Interesting point. I simply relied o this post of Mike Bostock http://bost.ocks.org/mike/chart/.

An initial config object would probably be ideal, and then you could have the chaining to supplement those values. You could have the initial method take in the config and use the values in that in place of the defaults. So

could initially be

  var circles = textures.circles({
    radius: 4,
    fill: "transparent",
    strokeWidth: 2 
and later updated to be

  circles.strokeWidth( 1 );
Which works rather nicely especially when the config object is generated dynamically.

Yeah, it makes sense to mimic the D3 style: the only thing worse than a bad convention is two conventions.

imho, if the operations are to be performed in a certain order, use chaining. Otherwise, passing a config object is much cleaner

That's so tasty. Like tomato soup for my eyeballs.

I encountered the same issue in my project : 2 levels of polygon-distinguishment. Made a set of 1 bit seamless textures.


:D thanks! Very good point.

This is pretty cool. I made a really basic example, but in doing it, I could imagine playing around with having the colors or orientation change with the data as well. And it might make for cool transitions too. That obviously get way too complicated pretty quickly, but it'd be fun to see what you could come up with that might work.


Looks just like the old Mac before they got colour.

Isn't this what Tufte refers to as "chartjunk"?

Tufte points out 1 + 1 is 3 or more visually. The two lines create two elements, then the space is another, then the space on either is potentially another.


These textures are noisy. There can be occasions to use textures, but these examples would work just as well with shades of gray.

Interesting point of view. Choices of style apart, there are situations where textures are useful. Like for example the case faced by swayvil (see the comment), or when you need b/w printable images. Another good reference is "Semiology of Graphics" of Jacques Bertin, he has a good opinion about textures.

"Semiology of Graphics" is a great book, but this was published in the 1960s when those graphs where drafted by hand and color printing was probably not an option.

I am ignorant as to what tools a draft-mans hand for shading then, but I am sure hatching would be easier than creating a fine range of halftone grays.

Here’s what Tufte says:

> Can optical art effects ever produce a better graphic? Bertin exhorts: “It is the designer’s duty to make the most of this variation; to obtain the resonance [of moiré vibration] without provoking an uncomfortable sensation: to flirt with ambiguity without succumbing to it.” But can statistical graphics successfully “flirt with ambiguity”? It is a clever idea, but no good examples are to be found. The key difficulty remains: moiré vibration is an undisciplined ambiguity, with an illusive, eye-straining quality that contaminates the entire graphic. It has no place in data graphical design.

Tufte is not that omnipotent, did he even ever consider colorblindness? Hatches are awesome substitution for color.

Of course he did consider color blindness.

Tufte recommends Imhof’s book Cartographic Relief Presentation on the subject of choosing colors for data graphics, and I’d second the recommendation.

Or for something online, take a look at Cynthia Brewer’s work.

Awesome for colorblind people! Looking forward to using this.

Shades of gray would work as well.

Also checkout http://colorbrewer2.org/

It has an option for creating color sets which are "colorblind safe."

Very good attention to details! (like the position of circle patterns on edges of shapes)

Have a star, you deserve it :)

Masterful use of contrast and texture. Data vis can stand to have more of this.

Wow! Thanks.

Loving the retro look. But I'm not sure if patterns are as good as colors in communicating data. As soon as the data has even an ordinal scale, gradients or hues should work better.

Patterns are useful if it is intended to be printed (or for other b/w media). For good color prints or screen usage I agree, colors often can do a better job.

You are probably right if the data you're representing is scaled, but this sort of solution is fantastic for categorical data. Also, see other comments re: accessibility for colorblindness. Not necessarily a silver bullet, but possibly a solid solution in some circumstances.

Patterns are actually much better for colour-blind people like myself.

Textures and colors can be combined, for example if you need to select according two different group of categories/variables.

I wish we could have written the documentation for my current project in the browser instead of LaTeX.

But the need to produce good PDFs killed the idea.

We've had good success with wkhtmltopdf

All of our invoices and reports are built for the web and then converted on the fly to pdfs and emailed out to clients who prefer them that way. You lose the interactivity, which is a shame for some d3 reports, and you have to be a little careful (design for page breaks, test it as if it's a slightly fickle browser that you have to support, ensure that everything is visible without requiring interaction) but it keeps all of your development within the same tool stack and gives you web versions of them all for free.

For reference, I ran it on the textures.js page and put the results here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5BP6Na7GalZOXdWdlh6MElWTDQ...

It's pretty good.

Check out GitBook. They build from Markdown/HTML and can produce interactive HTML and/or PDF.

Oh, I looked into it, but if you compare with LaTeX, its pretty simple, but we need references, and footnoes, and complex tables, so we would need an extended version, and preprocess it, and.. might as well use LaTeX.

It reminds me of Semiology of Graphics by Bertin. Nice work! I would like to work on React port, only if I have a spare time...

This is lovely. I've hand-coded solutions before to show two variables by region simultaneously (e.g. voting patterns by socio-economic levels:http://imgur.com/ww1WV66). Colour and texture are nicely independent for showing this stuff.

very nice. One tangential question, the example svg maps are not created in the browser. How are these typically created?

When I make SVGs they are typically either plots made with a plotting tool, or paths created from tracing or done purely by hand.

I did it with d3.js and topojson, then I used the resulting svg image on the website. You can find the code here https://github.com/riccardoscalco/textures/blob/gh-pages/map...

In my opinion the "right" way for static things. Keeps the browser from computing, no need for the original data and libs. Of course being able to inspec other people's d3 code is fun on the other hand.

Thanks for the update! I was unaware of the power of geoJSON (also githubs neat mapping of them) and access to data from places such as gadm.org. Is that where you source the data?

Thank you for sharing this! Can't wait to use this soon :)

Slightly off topic but maybe some SVG expert can help me out with a quick question! Is there a way to identify and automatically recognize all numbers in an image.svg file?

What kind of numbers? Those appearing alone in attributes, such as <rect width='10' height='5'/>? Those appearing in path or polygon data are more complicated, as the syntax allows whitespace, commas, etc. as separators, but they're not needed in some cases. E.g.

is perfectly valid (AFAIR, not sure about the decimal points now), but not really nice to parse or extract.

The main point would be what your use case is? If you just need to transform something, e.g. translate or scale a shape it's easier to put a group around it and apply a transform on that.

This library is fantastic. These patterns are essential in the production of print-ready and print-like contents.

With the high resolution screens available today these make for stunning graphical presentation.

Thanks for this. I need to learn SVG for something that I am working on now, this library looks like it has a great interface for me to learn from.

I just want to point out that many of the line textures can also be made with repeating-linear-gradient() from CSS, perhaps more efficiently so.

This is lovely, congrats to the author

Wonderful! What are the best use case for using this patterns apart from geo graph representation?

Indeed, original and very useful. Exactly what I've been seeking... for some time.

Wow, this is really sweet. Can't wait to use it in my next project.

Great project, just needed such a texture for an app. Thanks!

Many thanks for the good words! I am happy you like it.

this is awesome! excellent for monochrome.

Lovely. Style from Italy.

Incredibly well done.

Very beautiful :D


Reminds me of the AutoCAD patterns, back in school.

For me, the patterns in HyperCard and MacPaint.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact