For the past year or so I have been dabbling with protovis. I don’t have a heavy CS background but protovis is supposedly easy to pick up for people like me, who are vaguely aware that computers can make calculations but who need to check the manual for the most mundane programming instructions.
What I found was, while it’s reasonably easy to modify the most basic examples to make stuff happen, it is much harder to understand or adapt the more complex ones, let alone to create a fairly complex visualization. So I started documenting my struggle with data, first for my own use, and eventually realized I could share what I learned.
Be aware that the content is laser focused on how to deal with data instead of shiny visualization goodness. That said, if you plan to create custom visualizations with Protovis, I highly recommend to have a look at Jerome’s notes.