VisiData In 60 Seconds

TL;DR? Here’s a three-step introduction to VisiData.

Step 1: Use vd to open a data file

Download faa-wildlife-strikes.csv, a dataset of all aircraft-wildlife collisions reported to the Federal Aviation Adminsitration between 2010 and mid-2016.

From your terminal, move into the directory where you downloaded the dataset. Then run the following command:

vd faa-wildlife-strikes.csv

If it worked, you should see something like this:

 OPERATOR           | ATYPE          | INCIDENT_DATE      | STATE   | AIRPORT            | PHASE_O> 
 BUSINESS           | PA-28          | 05/22/15 00:00:00  | FL      | VERO BEACH MUNICIP…| APPROACH 
 BUSINESS           | BE-1900        | 06/18/15 00:00:00  | AK      | KENAI MUNICIPAL AR…| APPROACH 
 BUSINESS           | PA-46 MALIBU   | 09/20/15 00:00:00  | TX      | DAVID WAYNE HOOKS …|          
 DELTA AIR LINES    | B-717-200      | 11/07/15 00:00:00  | MO      | LAMBERT-ST LOUIS I…| APPROACH 
 BUSINESS           | BE-90 KING     | 12/17/15 00:00:00  | FL      | POMPANO BEACH AIRP…| LANDING… 
 DELTA AIR LINES    | B-757          | 07/17/15 00:00:00  | VI      | HENRY E ROHLSEN AR…|          
 DELTA AIR LINES    | B-717-200      | 08/02/15 00:00:00  | TX      | SAN ANTONIO INTL   | APPROACH 
 BUSINESS           | C-414          | 08/03/15 00:00:00  | TX      | LONE STAR EXECUTIV…| DEPARTU… 
 ALLEGIANT AIR      | MD-80          | 09/02/15 00:00:00  | FL      | TAMPA INTL         | APPROACH 
 TRANS STATES AIRLI…| EMB-145        | 09/07/15 00:00:00  | MO      | LAMBERT-ST LOUIS I…| APPROACH 
 BUSINESS           | C-172          | 11/28/15 00:00:00  | FL      | OPA-LOCKA EXECUTIV…| APPROACH 
 GOVERNMENT         | EC120          | 12/08/15 00:00:00  | CA      | NORMAN Y. MINETA S…|          
 AMERICAN AIRLINES  | A-321          | 05/06/15 00:00:00  | FL      | FORT LAUDERDALE/HO…| APPROACH 
 EXPRESSJET AIRLINES| CRJ100/200     | 05/06/15 00:00:00  | AR      | FORT SMITH REGIONA…| CLIMB    
 MESA AIRLINES      | CRJ900         | 05/08/15 00:00:00  | AR      | BILL AND  HILLARY …| LANDING… 
 BUSINESS           | HELICOPTER     | 05/06/15 00:00:00  |         | UNKNOWN            | En Route 
 DELTA AIR LINES    | A-320          | 05/07/15 00:00:00  | CA      | METRO OAKLAND INTL |          
 DELTA AIR LINES    | A-320          | 05/08/15 00:00:00  | UT      | SALT LAKE CITY INTL|          
 LUFTHANSA          | A-380          | 05/10/15 00:00:00  | TX      | GEORGE BUSH INTERC…| CLIMB    
 BUSINESS           | C-172          | 05/08/15 00:00:00  | FL      | ORLANDO SANFORD IN…| APPROACH 
 SPIRIT AIRLINES    | A-319          | 05/10/15 00:00:00  | IL      | CHICAGO O'HARE INT…| CLIMB    
 EXPRESSJET AIRLINES| EMB-145        | 05/11/15 00:00:00  | AL      | BIRMINGHAM-SHUTTLE…| LANDING… 
faa-wildlife-strikes| saul.pw/VisiData v1.0 | opening faa-wildlife-strikes as csv |      73448 rows 

Step 2: Test-drive a frequency table

One of VisiData’s strengths is how quickly it lets you summarize your data. Frequency tables are a great example. To create one, press Shift+F.

If it worked, you should see something 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 

Step 3: Read VisiData’s manual page

VisiData’s “quick reference guide” enumerates all of VisiData’s commands and features. You can read it online or access it from anywhere within VisiData by pressing the F1 key or typing z?:

vd(1)                        Quick Reference Guide                       vd(1)                      
NAME                     
     VisiData -- a terminal utility for exploring and arranging tabular data                        
SYNOPSIS                 
     vd [options] [input ...]                     
     vd [options] --play cmdlog [-w waitsecs] [--batch] [-o output] [field=value ...]               
DESCRIPTION              
     VisiData is a multipurpose tool for exploring, cleaning, editing, and restructuring            
     data.  Rows can be selected, filtered, and grouped; columns can be rearranged, trans-          
     formed, and derived via regex or Python expressions; workflows can be saved, docu-             
     mented, and replayed.  VisiData is built on the vdtui platform.                                
   REPLAY MODE           
     -p, --play=cmdlog       replays a saved cmdlog within the interface                            
     -w, --replay-wait=seconds                    
                             waits seconds between commands                                         
     -b, --batch             replays in batch mode (with no interface)                              
     -o, --output=file       saves final visible sheet to file as .tsv                              
     --replay-movement=bool  toggles --play to move cursor cell-by-cell                             
:

Note

If you open the manual from within VisiData it will launch in your terminal’s “pager” program — typically the less program. To move around:

Keystroke(s) Action
Space / b Scroll forward/backward
/ + search term + Enter Search for search term
n / N Go to next/previous search match
q Exit and return to VisiData

You can find additional commands here.