Accepted answer

You can't use the nest operator here because nesting produces a fixed hierarchy: the number of levels in the output hierarchy is the same as the number of key functions you specify.

That said, you can write your own function which produces a tree. Assuming that the root node is the first node in the input array, you can create a map from id to node, and then construct the tree lazily.

function tree(nodes) {
  var nodeById = {};

  // Index the nodes by id, in case they come out of order.
  nodes.forEach(function(d) {
    nodeById[] = d;

  // Lazily compute children.
  nodes.forEach(function(d) {
    if ("manager" in d) {
      var manager = nodeById[d.manager];
      if (manager.children) manager.children.push(d);
      else manager.children = [d];

  return nodes[0];

If you know that the nodes are listed in order such that managers appear before their reports, you can simplify the code to iterate only once.

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