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How to Make a Moving Bubble Chart, Based on a Dataset

Ooo, bubbles… It’s not the most visually efficient method, but it’s one of the more visually satisfying ones.

The moving bubble chart with simulated forces is one my favorite methods to play with. Colliding nodes show independence between points, and as a whole, you see patterns in movement when multiple nodes shift to different spots on the screen.

It might not be the most visually efficient way to see the data, but there’s an organic nature to it that makes the moving bubbles visually satisfying. I’ve used the method to show the day in the life of Americans. I showed the changing stages in relationships.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to make something like the latter.

This is an updated version of the previous moving bubble chart tutorial. It uses a more recent version of D3.js, and I explain how to use your own dataset.

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About the Author

Nathan Yau is a statistician who works primarily with visualization. He earned his PhD in statistics from UCLA, is the author of two best-selling books — Data Points and Visualize This — and runs FlowingData. Introvert. Likes food. Likes beer.