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 2018-11-21
VisiData version 1.5

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, suggestions, and fixes: Saul Pwanson, Anja Kefala, John Templon, Scott Pham, Andrea Borruso.