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D3.js vs Highcharts: What are the differences?

D3.js and Highcharts are both popular JavaScript libraries used for creating interactive visualizations on the web. Let's explore the key differences between D3.js and Highcharts:

  1. Data Binding: D3.js provides a powerful data-binding mechanism where data elements are bound directly to individual DOM elements. This allows for a high level of flexibility and control over the visualization. On the other hand, Highcharts abstracts away this process by providing predefined options for data configuration, making it easier to get started but limiting the level of customization.

  2. Chart Types: D3.js offers a wide range of chart types, including bar charts, line charts, pie charts, and more. It provides extensive flexibility to create custom chart types and layouts. Highcharts, on the other hand, has a smaller selection of predefined chart types but offers additional advanced chart types like heat maps and 3D charts.

  3. Community and Documentation: D3.js has a large and active community of developers, making it easy to find support, tutorials, and examples. It also has comprehensive documentation, allowing users to quickly understand its functionalities. Highcharts also has a strong community, but its documentation is considered more extensive and beginner-friendly.

  4. Performance and Rendering: D3.js focuses on efficiently binding data to DOM elements and updating them when changes occur. This makes it a more performant option for handling large datasets and dynamic visualizations. Highcharts, on the other hand, prioritizes smooth animations and rendering for interactive and visually appealing charts.

  5. Dependencies: D3.js is a standalone library that does not have any external dependencies. This provides more flexibility in terms of integration with other libraries or frameworks. Highcharts, on the other hand, requires the inclusion of its core library as well as jQuery for full functionality, making it slightly more dependent on external resources.

  6. License and Pricing: D3.js is an open-source library released under the BSD license, allowing for its free usage and modification. Highcharts, on the other hand, offers both a free version for non-commercial use and a paid license for commercial projects. This difference in licensing models may influence the choice between the two libraries, depending on the project's requirements and budget.

In summary, D3.js provides greater flexibility and customization options, particularly in terms of data binding and chart types. It has a strong community and comprehensive documentation. On the other hand, Highcharts offers a more user-friendly approach with predefined chart types and smooth rendering.

Advice on D3.js and Highcharts
Needs advice

I have used highcharts and it is pretty awesome for my previous project. now as I am about to start my new project I want to use other charting libraries such as recharts, chart js, Nivo, d3 js.... my upcoming project might use react js as front end and laravel as a backend technology. the project would be of hotel management type. please suggest me the best charts to use

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Replies (1)
Darren Adams
Senior Developer at Burning Glass Technologies · | 2 upvotes · 148.6K views

I've used Highcharts with both Angular Js Reactive applications (render as ReactJs) and also a bit of D3. Personally I found Highcharts to be the easiest to use but, with still quite a good level of customisability if you need it. graphs and charts then give D3 a try.

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Pros of D3.js
Pros of Highcharts
  • 195
    Beautiful visualizations
  • 103
  • 92
  • 81
    Large set of examples
  • 61
    Data-driven documents
  • 24
    Visualization components
  • 20
  • 18
    Dynamic properties
  • 16
  • 11
  • 7
    Makes data interactive
  • 4
    Open Source
  • 4
    Enter and Exit
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
    Backed by the new york times
  • 2
    Easy and beautiful
  • 1
    Highly customizable
  • 1
    Awesome Community Support
  • 1
    Simple elegance
  • 1
    Templates, force template
  • 1
    Angular 4
  • 34
    Low learning curve and powerful
  • 17
    Multiple chart types such as pie, bar, line and others
  • 13
    Responsive charts
  • 9
    Handles everything you throw at it
  • 8
    Extremely easy-to-parse documentation
  • 5
    Built-in export chart as-is to image file
  • 5
    Easy to customize color scheme and palettes
  • 1
    Export on server side, can be used in email

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Cons of D3.js
Cons of Highcharts
  • 11
    Beginners cant understand at all
  • 6
    Complex syntax
  • 9

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What is D3.js?

It is a JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data. Emphasises on web standards gives you the full capabilities of modern browsers without tying yourself to a proprietary framework.

What is Highcharts?

Highcharts currently supports line, spline, area, areaspline, column, bar, pie, scatter, angular gauges, arearange, areasplinerange, columnrange, bubble, box plot, error bars, funnel, waterfall and polar chart types.

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What companies use D3.js?
What companies use Highcharts?
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Sep 8 2017 at 2:54PM


What are some alternatives to D3.js and Highcharts?
It is a cross-browser JavaScript library and Application Programming Interface used to create and display animated 3D computer graphics in a web browser.
It is a standalone Javascript data visualization library, and it also powers the Python and R modules named plotly in those respective ecosystems (referred to as and Plotly.R). It can be used to produce dozens of chart types and visualizations, including statistical charts, 3D graphs, scientific charts, SVG and tile maps, financial charts and more.
Python is a general purpose programming language created by Guido Van Rossum. Python is most praised for its elegant syntax and readable code, if you are just beginning your programming career python suits you best.
Tableau can help anyone see and understand their data. Connect to almost any database, drag and drop to create visualizations, and share with a click.
Bokeh is an interactive visualization library for modern web browsers. It provides elegant, concise construction of versatile graphics, and affords high-performance interactivity over large or streaming datasets.
See all alternatives