At 250 pages, this volume is more than a quick introduction, but far less than a reference manual. It is the equivalent of a day-long instruction session introducing you to the power of d3. The author concentrates the instruction on building a very simple visualisation using a bar chart, that although simple, allows for a wide exploration of the concepts behind d3. He touches on how these concepts can be extended logically into pie, donut and force-directed displays to demonstrate the extensibility of d3 and then looks at how GeoJSON data is usefully handled through d3 — tipping his hat to the geospatial turn in data.
I worked through the bulk of the exercise provided and the format lends itself to having your bowser open along with an editor saving your changes to an active document on your web server. The small steps are immediately visible and reaffirm your confidence with the framework. I found that this introduction (completed after backwards engineering many d3.js examples) really helped to give me some of the ah-ha moments of clarification of what I had not quite grasped when trying to work with pre-constructed visualisations. Both of these approaches though seem to work well together.
This is a highly recommended volume and along with Nathan Yau’s superb Visualise This, can serve as superb data vis hands-on instruction courses. Both very well paced and full of helpful, well constructed samples. I would recommend this for novice to intermediate usage and seriously consider using it in my next information visualisation workshop.