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We’ll be talking a lot in this class about connecting resources on the Internet to resources in the world. We’re going to go step-by-step, and to begin with, we’ll look at resources on the Internet. There is a vast quantity of data available out there, from weather data to stock data to wave reports for surfing. To start your explorations, and to get you up to speed, you’re going to look at how to access and visualize this data. (A wonderful website with lots of inspirational examples of visualization is FlowingData.)

Much of the public data available on the Internet is exposed via web APIs. REST stands for “REpresentational State Transfer”, and is a way of exposing information to developers via HTTP calls. To call a web API, one simply loads a URL; the result of the URL is the result of the API call.

A simple example of a web API call is the following URL: When you click on it, you’ll get a result that looks like this:

  "userId": 1,
  "id": 1,
  "title": "sunt aut facere repellat provident occaecati excepturi optio reprehenderit",
  "body": "quia et suscipit\nsuscipit recusandae consequuntur expedita et cum\nreprehenderit molestiae ut ut quas totam\nnostrum rerum est autem sunt rem eveniet architecto"

This is JSON, which is directly usable in Javascript.


The main goal for this assignment is to get you comfortable with using Javascript to visualize data available on the web. To do this, you will connect to a public API that provides a datastream and visualize that datastream in realtime.

The learning goals of this assignment are as follows:

  • Get an environment set up to experiment with web APIs
  • Learn how to use git and Github
  • Understand how to call web APIs and work with the data
  • Understand how to visualize data with Javascript

We’re going to use a lot of modern web development tools and practices in the class. A good article to read for an overview of these tools is The Modern Front-End Workflow - From Start to Finish (note that we won’t necessarily use everything in the article!).

What to do

Set up the stuff in the Set up page.

Your basic goal is to visualize a public datastream. We’ll start with because it’s easy. Visit this page and have a look at the data - this is a weather station on top of someone’s house. You can see that it updates about once per minute. You can also get this data in JSON format by clicking the JSON button (or copying the link!); see the documentation for more information.

C-level work

Visualize at least two columns from the SparkFun weather station data stream in a line graph (time on the x-axis). Display a scale for the axes (e.g. ticks for time on the x-axis). Update the display live, so it adds a new point when it gets new weather data.

B-level work

Do the above task. Create a second, more creative visualization of the data. This should be abstract and fun—the idea is to push your skills and understanding.

A-level work

Do the above two tasks, but rather than using the data source I suggest, find and use another (potentially more interesting) web API to use. Visualize this data. Your time-based graph should be really solid and clear, and your abstract graph should be very interesting and dynamic. You could use other/additional Javascript libraries (for example, three.js or matter.js ) if desired.


You’ll turn in your code via your Github repository. Along with your code, upload a file, which Github will then display with your repository (this is Markdown; you can read Github’s help). Include information about the data source you chose to visualize, the libraries you used, and links to your visualization(s). To do this last one, navigate to your file in Github, select the “Raw” button, then change to