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Selectable Force-Directed Graph Using D3.js

  • 15 Feb 2015
  • |
  • javascript
  • d3.js
  • |

Dragging multiple nodes in a force-directed graph layout is useful for making large changes in its arrangement. Mike Bostock showed a nice example of this while describing the process of creating the 2013 Oscar Contenders visualization in his Eyeo talk about examples.

His example, while instructive and useful, can be made even more helpful by adding the dynamic force calculation, as well as zooming and centering behaviour.

In the example below, hold down shift to select multiple nodes or press the ā€˜cā€™ key to center the graph. Zooming and panning follow the typical pattern using the mousewheel and dragging.

The selection process is made to emulate the behaviour of selection and dragging that is seen in most file managers and is thus familiar to most users of desktop computers:

  1. Clicking on a node selects it and de-selects everything else.
  2. Shift-clicking on a node toggles its selection status and leaves all other nodes as they are.
  3. Shift-dragging toggles the selection status of all nodes within the selection area.
  4. Dragging on a selected node drags all selected nodes.
  5. Dragging an unselected node selects and drags it while de-selecting everything else.

Finally, the cursor is changed to a crosshair when the user presses the shift key.

The code for this example is available on bl.ocks.org or directly from github gist. An example of its use is found in this RNA secondary structure visualization tool.