Creating a d3 chart with data from Google Sheets

In the following image, I have two browser windows open. On the left, a Google Sheet containing a simple table of data. In the right browser window, a web page with a d3 chart that displays the data from the Google Sheet and can be refreshed dynamically when the data changes.

d3 + Google Sheets

Why use Google Sheets as a data store?

– it’s super convenient, because you can see and play with your data.
– you can leverage Google Apps Script to build your web app and host everything, including the d3 chart web page, on Google’s servers for free.
– it’s fun!

How is this built?

Process diagram

It starts with the Google Sheet that stores our data. That part is easy and self-explanatory.

Next comes some Apps Script code (for a primer, check out this starter article) that does several things:

– collect the data from the Google Sheet
– serves up a basic web app (hosted on Google’s servers) called an HTML Service App
– passes the data from the Sheet to this web app

Finally, on the front-end:

– the app uses the Javascript library d3 to create a chart of this data
– the app has a “Refresh” button to pull in new data.

Note all of this code lives in the container-bound Apps Script project attached to the Google Sheet.


1. Create a new Google Sheet and add some data:

Google Sheet database

2. Open up the script editor and create the following files in the Apps Script project:

script editor menu

3. Copy and paste the code from Github for each of these files:

4. Publish the app to the web

The last step is to publish as a web app, and grant permission for the app to access your Google Sheet.

GAS Authorization sheets

Then you should have a dynamic d3 chart based on data from your Google Sheet:

d3 + Google Sheets

Diving into the code in more detail

Firstly we need to get the data out of our Google Sheet. This function achieves that:

The XXXXXXXXX reference will need to be swapped out to the ID of your spreadsheet (find that in the URL).

This script gets the headings and an array of the values from the Google Sheet, using the getRange method. Then a nested loop pushes the headings/values into objects and into an array.

This array is returned by the function, and looks like this:

[{category=A, value=174.0}, {category=B, value=192.0}, {category=C, value=175.0}, {category=D, value=123.0}, {category=E, value=89.0}, {category=F, value=184.0}, {category=G, value=61.0}, {category=H, value=40.0}, {category=I, value=39.0}, {category=J, value=186.0}, {category=K, value=63.0}, {category=L, value=198.0}, {category=M, value=50.0}]

Create a web app hosted by Google

You need this function in your file:

and the index.html file, which is what gets published as the web app.

In this file, I’ve added a heading, a refresh button and the svg element for the d3 chart. At the bottom of the file, the d3 javascript library is loaded, along with my two javascript files chart.js and main.js.

Add client side javascript to the web app

This file is loaded when the index file is loaded. calls the server side Apps Script function getChartData (to get the data from the Google Sheet) and, if successful, passes that data to the drawChart function.

Use d3 to create the chart

This file, chart.js.html, is loaded with the index.html page:

For the full code, see the repo here on Github.

I also added some basic styling from the styles.css.html file.

Further reading

This fantastic book, Interactive Data Visualization for the Web, from Scott Murray is a great place to start learning d3.

5 thoughts on “Creating a d3 chart with data from Google Sheets”

  1. Great post. Really helpful.

    It would probably help to add “triggers” to the explanation

    doGet -> From Spreadsheet -> On Edit
    getChartData -> From Spreadsheet -> On Edit

  2. It’s good practice to use flexible, dynamic coordinates, heights, widths, x values, and y values so your visualization can scale appropriately along with your data.

  3. Thanks for this insightful walkthrough Ben! Very helpful in getting me off the ground in setting up some custom charts from google sheets.

    I wasn’t aware of the ability to get a web app up and running through the editor, real cool.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *