Remember that the key function will be invoked on each element of your data array (i.e. dt), as well as on each element in your selection (i.e. d3.selectAll(".input")). In both cases, the key function needs to return a valid value and those output values will used to make the association.

To achieve your goal you can do something like the following example. See fiddle for live version:

If your document contains the following:

<div id="c"></div>
<div id="a"></div>
<div id="b"></div>

‚Äč then executing this:

var data = [
    { key: "a", val: "aaa" },
    { key: "b", val: "bbb" },
    { key: "c", val: "ccc" }

    .data(data, function(d) { return (d && d.key) ||"id"); })
    .text(function(d) { return d.val; });

will result in this document:

<div id="c">ccc</div>
<div id="a">aaa</div>
<div id="b">bbb</div>

You see that the key function consists of two parts. The first part is designed for the data array:

(d && d.key)

That part will return undefined for the elements in the d3 selection. The second part targets those elements:"id")

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