An Introduction to VisiData

VisiData is a free, open-source tool that lets you quickly open, explore, summarize, and analyze datasets in your computer’s terminal. VisiData works with CSV files, Excel spreadsheets, SQL databases, and many other data sources. The interface looks like this:

 OPERATOR            count  #| percent  %| histogram                                              
 UNKNOWN            ‖   23076 |     31.42 | ************************************************** ‖    
 SOUTHWEST AIRLINES     7752 |     10.55 | ****************                                       
 BUSINESS               5868 |      7.99 | ************                                           
 AMERICAN AIRLINES      4337 |      5.90 | *********                                              
 DELTA AIR LINES        2817 |      3.84 | ******                                                 
 FEDEX EXPRESS          2709 |      3.69 | *****                                                  
 UNITED AIRLINES        2194 |      2.99 | ****                                                   
 US AIRWAYS             1885 |      2.57 | ****                                                   
 UPS AIRLINES           1773 |      2.41 | ***                                                    
 SKYWEST AIRLINES       1769 |      2.41 | ***                                                    
 JETBLUE AIRWAYS        1740 |      2.37 | ***                                                    
 EXPRESSJET AIRLINES    1347 |      1.83 | **                                                     
 AMERICAN EAGLE AIR…    1041 |      1.42 | **                                                     
 ENVOY AIR               883 |      1.20 | *                                                      
 ALASKA AIRLINES         835 |      1.14 | *                                                      
 REPUBLIC AIRLINES       804 |      1.09 | *                                                      
 MESA AIRLINES           693 |      0.94 | *                                                      
 AIR WISCONSIN AIRL…     623 |      0.85 | *                                                      
 PSA AIRLINES            577 |      0.79 | *                                                      
 PRIVATELY OWNED         516 |      0.70 | *                                                      
 PHI INC                 491 |      0.67 | *                                                      
 SHUTTLE AMERICA         467 |      0.64 | *                                                      
faa-wildlife-strikes_OPERATOR_freq|                                                F       282 bins 

Very quickly, VisiData has become the tool I reach for first when I encounter a new dataset. I think you might enjoy it, too.

About This Tutorial

Note

This tutorial is not officially affiliated with VisiData, and is not intended as a comprehensive reference. You can learn more about VisiData from these official sources:

Tutorial Structure

This tutorial is divided into five sections:

Section Description Status
The Big Picture If you read nothing else … Draft complete
Basic Usage All you need to know to get started Draft complete
Intermediate Usage Some of the handiest power-features First three chapters drafted
Advanced Usage How to bend VisiData to your whims No draft yet
Practical Examples Step-by-step walkthroughs Two examples drafted

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Tutorial Status

Tutorial last updated 2018-05-10
VisiData version 1.2

About the author

Jeremy Singer-Vine is the data editor at BuzzFeed News. He also publishes Data Is Plural, a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

Feedback / questions / corrections?

File an issue on GitHub or email the author at jsvine@gmail.com.

Acknowledgments

Many thanks to the following people for their feedback and suggestions: Saul Pwanson, Anja Kefala, John Templon, Scott Pham.