Workshop: Develop a Data App using Raphael, D3, HTML and Backbone (Week 1)

  • January 14, 2013 · 6:30 PM

“Full House” workshop

Please join the Chicago Data Visualization Group's three-week, hands on seminar on practical data visualization skills this January, facilitated by Chicago Tribune's David Eads, Sabine Ye, and friends (Pallavi Anderson and Sheila Miguez, as available).

1871, IMSA room
Monday Jan 14, 21, 28, 6:30p – 9:00pm

We'll focus on using Backbone JS to develop data-driven web applications, using the data provided by Full House, a web API which summarizes Cook County Jail population measurements over time.

We'll use Raphael JS, D3, and stupid HTML tricks. Mostly stupid HTML tricks. Our goal is to use our collective smarts to come up with interesting ways of presenting the underlying data, and to pick tools that will let us execute on our best ideas.

Participants should know basic HTML, CSS, and be able to use git. Some experience in a programming language would be useful, ideally but not limited to Javascript. Participants are asked to pledge to maintain a safe space according to the FreeGeek Chicago Code of Conduct.

As an experiment, we'll try to form small groups that continue projects outside of class and provide an opportunity to practice contributing to an open source project. People are busy, so there's no pressure to do this if it isn't feasible. Everyone who comes and contributes will get sweet street cred and go in the AUTHORS file for the project.

David Eads is a news applications developer for the Chicago Tribune and founder of FreeGeek Chicago.

Project statement

Cook County Jail is a crucial piece of Chicago's criminal justice infrastructure. The jail houses somewhere around 10,000 inmates a day awaiting trial or serving short sentences. The jail is costly to run and maintain, and it would be helpful to know about length of stay, jail demographics, common charges, housing patterns, and other characteristics of the jail's residents.

Unfortunately, there are no recent, regularly updated summaries of jail population statistics or trends, much less in a web-friendly data format. It's up to citizens to help the county know what's going on in Cook County Jail.

The Supreme Chi-town Coding Crew in collaboration with Open City Apps is organizing an open source project to better understand the Cook County Jail population. How long do inmates stay? When and where do they go to court? How are they housed? How do bond amounts line up with charges? What are the demographics of the population? What is the distribution of crimes and charges?

Learn more at

Join or login to comment.

  • Michael John B.

    David - I think you mentioned you have a few links to backbone resources to share - would be interested to see them.

    January 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    When doing client side development, specifically Client side MVC, I use mimosajs to manage my assets and deployment packaging. It uses nodejs to create a local server which is automatically reloaded when you make changes to your source files. Probably beyond the scope of this workshop, but wanted to share a useful tool :-)

    January 15, 2013

  • Louis S.

    Last minute new engagement with work. I will be ceding my spots for the three sessions. I apologize for the lack of forward notice.

    January 14, 2013

    • David E.

      Thanks Louis! No worries about the last minute warning, I totally understand.

      January 14, 2013

  • Michael John B.

    Due to timing - I only managed to reserve for the second installment of 3. Will you be posting any materials from session 1 so that I can get up to speed for the second session?

    January 10, 2013

    • Gene L.

      wow, that hackpad thing is really nice. I noticed that the link to fullhouse takes you to a 404 error.

      January 10, 2013

    • David E.

      Hackpad is the bomb. Very good replacement for Google Docs if you need wiki-ish features. And the folks I've talked to from the company behind it are really friendly and good open source citizens.

      I dropped the fullhouse link, it's been renamed:­

      January 11, 2013

  • David E.

    January 10, 2013

  • David E.

    Your facilitator here, part 2:

    For those that want to see what we'll be up to, check out the project we'll be using and some of the evolving documentation:

    * Project repository:
    * Cook County Jail inmate API:
    * API guide:
    * A long, incomplete tour of the front-end application:

    January 10, 2013

  • David E.

    Your facilitator here, part 1:

    Sorry all, we are really tight on space -- the room accommodates 25 at the most, and all the slots are full. I'm humbled and gratified by the interest in this workshop.

    Since there's so much interest, I'm going to talk with Build Cibola about hosting an one-day, large capacity event some time in Feb to cover some of the same material and hack on the inmate project. Finally, if you're enrolled in the workshop and won't have time for some lightweight homework, don't like group projects, or generally aren't moved by the subject matter, please consider canceling your reservation. I want to facilitate a group that's asking good questions and engaged with the material.

    January 10, 2013

  • Rity U.

    Looks really interesting, hopefully more spots will open up?

    January 7, 2013

  • John K.

    Looks like this one is set for only 15 people..

    January 3, 2013

  • Paul K.

    That filled up fast. No waitlist?

    January 3, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Yeah, really really fast... Is that right?

      January 3, 2013

15 went

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Create a Meetup Group and meet new people

Get started Learn more

Meetup has allowed me to meet people I wouldn't have met naturally - they're totally different than me.

Allison, started Women's Adventure Travel

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy