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By: Hafeesul Ali

How to Create 3D Charts with JavaScript Libraries in 2024

BI Bussiness Intelligence

In the ever-evolving landscape of web development, the ability to convey data in a compelling and immersive manner is becoming increasingly important. Traditional 2D charts have long been the go-to for visualizing data. Still, with the advent of sophisticated JavaScript libraries, developers now have the power to take data visualization to the next level – the third dimension.
JavaScript charting libraries offer a plethora of tools to create stunning visualizations, and when it comes to adding depth and perspective, 3D charts steal the spotlight. Let's dive into some notable JavaScript libraries that empower developers to integrate three-dimensional visualizations seamlessly.

Three.js: A Gateway to 3D Graphics

Three.js stands tall as a robust 3D library for JavaScript, opening up possibilities for creating a wide range of immersive experiences, including charts. Its flexible API and extensive documentation make it a popular choice for developers looking to venture into 3D.
Utilizing Three.js, developers can craft everything from 3D bar charts to dynamic scatter plots. The library's ability to harness the power of WebGL ensures high-performance rendering, making it an excellent choice for data visualizations that demand responsiveness.
Here's a simple example of using Three.js to create a spinning cube:
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
   <meta charset="utf-8">
   <title>Three.js Example</title>
   <style>
       body {
           margin: 0;
       }
       canvas {
           display: block;
       }
   </style>
</head>
<body>
   <script type="module">
       import * as THREE from 'https://threejs.org/build/three.module.js';
       // Create scene
       const scene = new THREE.Scene();
       // Create camera
       const camera = new THREE.PerspectiveCamera(75, window.innerWidth /   window.innerHeight, 0.1, 1000);
       camera.position.z = 5;
       // Create renderer
       const renderer = new THREE.WebGLRenderer();
       renderer.setSize(window.innerWidth, window.innerHeight);
       document.body.appendChild(renderer.domElement);
       // Create cube
       const geometry = new THREE.BoxGeometry();
       const material = new THREE.MeshBasicMaterial({ color: 0x00ff00 });
       const cube = new THREE.Mesh(geometry, material);
       scene.add(cube);
       // Animation
       const animate = function () {
           requestAnimationFrame(animate);
           // Rotate the cube
           cube.rotation.x += 0.01;
           cube.rotation.y += 0.01;
           renderer.render(scene, camera);
       };
       // Handle window resize
       window.addEventListener('resize', () => {
           const newWidth = window.innerWidth;
           const newHeight = window.innerHeight;
           camera.aspect = newWidth / newHeight;
           camera.updateProjectionMatrix();
           renderer.setSize(newWidth, newHeight);
       });
       // Start animation
       animate();
   </script>
</body>
</html>
This example creates a simple scene with a spinning cube using Three.js. It includes a scene, a camera, a renderer, a cube geometry, and a basic material. The animate function is called recursively to update the cube's rotation and render the scene. The window resize event is also handled to update the camera aspect ratio and renderer size. Make sure to include the Three.js library in your project, and you can do this by importing it from the official CDN as shown in the example.

Plotly.js: Elevating Interactivity with 3D

Built on the foundation of D3.js and WebGL, Plotly.js emerges as a versatile charting library that seamlessly integrates 3D capabilities. Plotly.js not only delivers visually appealing charts but also introduces an interactive layer, allowing users to explore and engage with the data directly.
From 3D surface plots that unveil intricate patterns to scatter plots that pop off the screen, Plotly.js offers a diverse range of 3D chart types. Its commitment to cross-browser compatibility and ease of use positions it as a go-to solution for developers aiming to create engaging and informative 3D visualizations.
Here's a simple example of using Plotly.js to create Multiple 3D Surface Plots:
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
   <meta charset="UTF-8">
   <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
   <title>Document</title>
   <script src='https://cdn.plot.ly/plotly-2.27.0.min.js'></script>
</head>
<body>
   <div id='myDiv'><!-- Plotly chart will be drawn inside this DIV --></div>
   <script>
       z1 = [
           [8.83, 8.89, 8.81, 8.87, 8.9, 8.87],
           [8.89, 8.94, 8.85, 8.94, 8.96, 8.92],
           [8.84, 8.9, 8.82, 8.92, 8.93, 8.91],
           [8.79, 8.85, 8.79, 8.9, 8.94, 8.92],
           [8.79, 8.88, 8.81, 8.9, 8.95, 8.92],
           [8.8, 8.82, 8.78, 8.91, 8.94, 8.92],
           [8.75, 8.78, 8.77, 8.91, 8.95, 8.92],
           [8.8, 8.8, 8.77, 8.91, 8.95, 8.94],
           [8.74, 8.81, 8.76, 8.93, 8.98, 8.99],
           [8.89, 8.99, 8.92, 9.1, 9.13, 9.11],
           [8.97, 8.97, 8.91, 9.09, 9.11, 9.11],
           [9.04, 9.08, 9.05, 9.25, 9.28, 9.27],
           [9, 9.01, 9, 9.2, 9.23, 9.2],
           [8.99, 8.99, 8.98, 9.18, 9.2, 9.19],
           [8.93, 8.97, 8.97, 9.18, 9.2, 9.18]
       ];
       z2 = [];
       for (var i = 0; i < z1.length; i++) {
           z2_row = [];
           for (var j = 0; j < z1[i].length; j++) {
               z2_row.push(z1[i][j] + 1);
           }
           z2.push(z2_row);
       }
       z3 = []
       for (var i = 0; i < z1.length; i++) {
           z3_row = [];
           for (var j = 0; j < z1[i].length; j++) {
               z3_row.push(z1[i][j] - 1);
           }
           z3.push(z3_row);
       }
       var data_z1 = { z: z1, type: 'surface' };
       var data_z2 = { z: z2, showscale: false, opacity: 0.9, type: 'surface' };
       var data_z3 = { z: z3, showscale: false, opacity: 0.9, type: 'surface' };


       Plotly.newPlot('myDiv', [data_z1, data_z2, data_z3]);
   </script>
</body>
</html>

Applications Beyond the Chart: A 3D Perspective

The incorporation of 3D charts extends far beyond aesthetics; it introduces new avenues for application across various domains.
* Scientific Data Visualization
In fields such as chemistry and physics, 3D charts provide a means to visualize complex data structures like molecular configurations, geological formations, and atmospheric conditions.
* Financial Analysis
For financial analysts and investors, 3D visualizations offer a more nuanced perspective on market trends, portfolio performance, and risk analysis.
* Product Design and Manufacturing
In product design, 3D charts can aid designers and engineers in analyzing prototypes and visualizing 3D models, facilitating a more comprehensive understanding of product dynamics.
* Gaming and Simulation
JavaScript 3D libraries like Babylon.js find applications in creating interactive gaming environments and simulations, delivering a realistic and immersive user experience.
* Education and Training
Educational materials can benefit from 3D charts to explain intricate concepts such as mathematical functions, physics simulations, and historical timelines, offering students a more engaging and informative learning experience.
As we navigate the ever-expanding landscape of web development, the integration of 3D charts into our arsenal of data visualization tools emerges as a game-changer. JavaScript libraries like Three.js, Plotly.js, and Babylon.js empower developers to transcend the boundaries of 2D charts, unlocking a new dimension of possibilities.
Whether you're aiming to convey complex scientific data, analyze financial trends, design products, or create immersive gaming experiences, the power of 3D charts lies at your fingertips. As we continue to explore the capabilities of JavaScript charting libraries, the journey into the third dimension promises to redefine how we perceive and interact with data in the digital realm.
To read more about the comparison of popular JavaScript charting libraries, refer to our blog Comparison of Popular JavaScript Charting Libraries


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