Top 7 Python Libraries for Data Visualization

Ayushi Trivedi 20 May, 2024
12 min read


Strong libraries like Matplotlib, Seaborn, Plotly, and Bokeh serve as the foundation of Python’s data visualization ecosystem. Together, they provide a wide range of tools for trend analysis, results presentation, and the creation of dynamic dashboards. Python Libraries for Data Visualization offer broad customization choices, interactive capabilities, and reliable features that connect smoothly with other data processing tools. In this article, we investigate the best Python packages for data visualization, looking at their special advantages, adaptable features, and practical uses.

Top 8 Python Libraries for Data Visualization

Top 8 Python Libraries for Data Visualization

Here are seven popular data visualization libraries in Python:

  1. Matplotlib
  2. Seaborn
  3. Plotly
  4. Bokeh
  5. Altair
  6. ggplot
  7. Holoviews

1. Matplotlib

An effective tool for making static, animated, and interactive visualizations in Python is the Matplotlib module. With GUI toolkits such as Tkinter, wxPython, Qt, or GTK, it provides an object-oriented API for embedding plots into applications. Matplotlib is versatile and supports a large range of plot types, making it appropriate for both simple and intricate representations. Robust libraries such as Matplotlib, Seaborn, Plotly, and Bokeh offer tools for dynamic dashboards, data trend analysis, and presentation.


  • Versatile and Widely Used: The scientific and data research groups utilize Matplotlib extensively because it provides a wide range of visualizations, from simple line plots to intricate 3D and animated images.
  • Extensive Documentation and Large Community Support: Matplotlib encourages creativity and problem-solving by offering a wealth of examples, tutorials, forums, user groups, and code repositories, as well as a community of developers and users.
  • Variety of Plot Types:Plot types that can be created include line, scatter, bar, histogram, pie, error bars, box, 3D, and more. Customization options provide users precise control over the appearance of the plot.
  • Good Integration with NumPy and Pandas: Data analysis and visualization workflows are streamlined by the easy way in which data may be visualized straight from arrays and DataFrames thanks to the seamless connection with NumPy and Pandas.
  • Publication-Quality Figures:Matplotlib offers fine-grained control over aspects such as typefaces, colors, and figure sizes, enabling it to produce publication-quality figures.

Common Functions

  • plot():
    • Creates a line plot.
    • Usage: plt.plot(x, y, label='Line Plot')
  • scatter():
    • Creates a scatter plot.
    • Usage: plt.scatter(x, y, label='Scatter Plot')
  • bar(): Creates a bar chart.
    • Usage:, values, label='Bar Chart')
  • hist():
    • Creates a histogram.
    • Usage: plt.hist(data, bins=10, label='Histogram')
  • imshow():
    • Displays an image or matrix.
    • Usage: plt.imshow(image_data, cmap='gray')
  • show():
    • Displays the plot.
    • Usage:

Additional Functions and Features

  • subplot() / subplots():
    • Creates a subplot or multiple subplots within a single figure.
    • Usage: plt.subplot(2, 1, 1) or fig, ax = plt.subplots(nrows=2, ncols=1)
  • title():
    • Adds a title to the plot.
    • Usage: plt.title('Plot Title')
  • xlabel() / ylabel():
    • Adds labels to the x-axis and y-axis.
    • Usage: plt.xlabel('X Axis Label'), plt.ylabel('Y Axis Label')
  • legend():
    • Displays a legend for the plot.
    • Usage: plt.legend()
  • savefig():
    • Saves the plot to a file.
    • Usage: plt.savefig('plot.png')
  • grid():
    • Adds a grid to the plot.
    • Usage: plt.grid(True)

Interactive Features

  • zoom():
    • Allows zooming in on specific areas of the plot.
    • Usage: Interactive through GUI.
  • pan():
    • Enables panning across the plot.
    • Usage: Interactive through GUI.

Advanced Customization

  • Custom Colormaps:
    • Usage: plt.imshow(data, cmap='custom_cmap')
  • Annotations:
    • Usage: plt.annotate('Annotation Text', xy=(x, y), xytext=(x2, y2), arrowprops=dict(facecolor='black', shrink=0.05))
  • 3D Plots:
    • Usage: ax = plt.axes(projection='3d'); ax.plot3D(x, y, z, 'gray')

Implementation with code

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np

# Line Plot
x = np.linspace(0, 10, 100)
y = np.sin(x)
plt.plot(x, y, label='Sine Wave')
plt.title('Sine Wave Example')
plt.xlabel('X Axis')
plt.ylabel('Y Axis')

# Scatter Plot
x = np.random.rand(50)
y = np.random.rand(50)
plt.scatter(x, y, label='Scatter Points')
plt.title('Scatter Plot Example')
plt.xlabel('X Axis')
plt.ylabel('Y Axis')
Python Libraries for Data Visualization
Python Libraries for Data Visualization

2. Seaborn

Designed to make it simpler to generate visually appealing and educational statistical visualizations, Seaborn is a Python visualization framework built on top of Matplotlib. Plotting is made easier and the final results look better thanks to its high-level interface for creating intricate and visually appealing visualizations. Seaborn is an effective tool for exploratory data analysis and visual storytelling because it comes with pre-installed themes and color schemes.


  • High-Level Interface for Complex Plots: A large portion of the complexity involved in producing complex graphics is abstracted by Seaborn. Even novices can use it to design intricate plots with little to no coding knowledge.
  • Built-In Themes for Better Aesthetics: A number of pre-installed themes and color schemes in Seaborn improve the plots’ visual attractiveness. Plots can be readily improved and made publication-ready by incorporating these topics.
  • Integrates Well with Pandas Data Structures: Simple data visualization from Pandas DataFrames is made possible by Seaborn’s seamless integration with these structures. Data processing and visualization are made easier by this integration.
  • Ideal for Statistical Data Visualization: In particular, statistical data visualization works extremely well with Seaborn. Understanding data distributions, correlations, and trends is made easier with the use of a number of integrated statistical visualizations and tools.

Common Functions

  • heatmap():
    • Creates a heatmap for visualizing matrix-like data, with color-coded cells.
    • Usage: sns.heatmap(data, annot=True, cmap='viridis')
  • boxplot():
    • Creates a box plot for visualizing the distribution of data based on percentiles.
    • Usage: sns.boxplot(x='category', y='value', data=df)
  • violinplot():
    • Creates a violin plot, combining aspects of box plots and kernel density plots.
    • Usage: sns.violinplot(x='category', y='value', data=df)
  • pairplot():
    • Creates a pair plot to visualize pairwise relationships in a dataset.
    • Usage: sns.pairplot(df)
  • distplot():
    • Creates a distribution plot, showing the distribution of a univariate variable.
    • Usage: sns.distplot(data, kde=True)

Additional Functions and Features

  • catplot():
    • Creates categorical plots, such as box, violin, or bar plots, in a single function.
    • Usage: sns.catplot(x='category', y='value', data=df, kind='box')
  • jointplot():
    • Creates a joint plot to analyze the relationship between two variables along with their distributions.
    • Usage: sns.jointplot(x='variable1', y='variable2', data=df, kind='scatter')
  • lmplot():
    • Creates a linear model plot, fitting a regression line to the data.
    • Usage: sns.lmplot(x='variable1', y='variable2', data=df)
  • countplot():
    • Creates a count plot to show the count of observations in each categorical bin.
    • Usage: sns.countplot(x='category', data=df)
  • FacetGrid:
    • Facilitates the creation of multiple plots based on subsets of the data.
    • Usage: g = sns.FacetGrid(df, col='category');, 'value')

Customizing and Enhancing Plots

  • Set Theme:
    • Usage: sns.set_theme(style='whitegrid')
  • Color Palettes:
    • Usage: sns.set_palette('pastel')
  • Context Settings:
    • Usage: sns.set_context('notebook', font_scale=1.5)

Implementation with Code

import seaborn as sns
import pandas as pd
import numpy as np

# Sample data
df = pd.DataFrame({
    'category': np.random.choice(['A', 'B', 'C'], size=100),
    'value': np.random.randn(100)

# Box Plot
sns.boxplot(x='category', y='value', data=df)
plt.title('Box Plot Example')

# Pair Plot
iris = sns.load_dataset('iris')
sns.pairplot(iris, hue='species')
plt.title('Pair Plot Example')

# Heatmap
data = np.random.rand(10, 12)
sns.heatmap(data, annot=True, fmt=".1f", cmap='coolwarm')
plt.title('Heatmap Example')
Python Libraries for Data Visualization
Python Libraries for Data Visualization

3. Plotly

Plotly is a feature-rich interactive graphing library that supports a wide variety of charts and visualizations. Plotly’s interactive features and ease of integration with online apps make it a popular tool for creating dynamic, web-based infographics. It uses the D3.js framework as its foundation and provides a Python interface that makes it easy to create complex visualizations with little to no coding. Plotly features built-in support for Jupyter Notebooks, making it a handy tool for data exploration and analysis.


  • Interactive Visualizations: Plotly is perfect for creating dynamic and interesting visualizations because of its interactive features, which include hover tooltips, zooming, panning, and real-time updates.
  • Wide Range of Supported Chart Types: Numerous chart kinds are supported by Plotly, such as heatmaps, scatter plots, line plots, bar charts, histograms, 3D plots, geographical maps, and more. It is appropriate for a range of data visualization requirements because to its adaptability.
  • Easy to Use with Built-In Jupyter Notebook Support: Creating and displaying interactive plots inside of Jupyter Notebooks is made possible by Plotly’s seamless integration. This function is especially helpful for presentations and data analysis.
  • Good Integration with Web Applications: Dash, a Flask-based web application framework, makes it simple to include Plotly into online applications. This makes it possible to create web-based, interactive data dashboards and apps.

Common Functions

  • scatter():
    • Creates an interactive scatter plot.
    • Usage: fig = px.scatter(df, x='x', y='y', color='category')
  • line():
    • Creates an interactive line plot.
    • Usage: fig = px.line(df, x='x', y='y', color='category')
  • bar():
    • Creates an interactive bar chart.
    • Usage: fig =, x='x', y='y', color='category')
  • histogram():
    • Creates an interactive histogram.
    • Usage: fig = px.histogram(df, x='x', nbins=20)
  • heatmap():
    • Creates an interactive heatmap.
    • Usage: fig = px.imshow(data, color_continuous_scale='Viridis')

Additional Functions and Features

  • pie():
    • Creates an interactive pie chart.
    • Usage: fig = px.pie(df, names='category', values='values')
  • box():
    • Creates an interactive box plot.
    • Usage: fig =, x='category', y='value')
  • violin():
    • Creates an interactive violin plot.
    • Usage: fig = px.violin(df, x='category', y='value')
  • choropleth():
    • Creates an interactive choropleth map for geographical data visualization.
    • Usage: fig = px.choropleth(df, locations='iso_alpha', color='value', hover_name='country')
  • 3D Scatter and Line Plots:
    • Creates 3D scatter and line plots for visualizing data in three dimensions.
    • Usage: fig = px.scatter_3d(df, x='x', y='y', z='z', color='category')
  • Facet Plots:
    • Creates multiple subplots (facets) based on categories in the data.
    • Usage: fig = px.scatter(df, x='x', y='y', facet_col='category')

Customizing and Enhancing Plots

  • Layout Customization:
    • Usage: fig.update_layout(title='Plot Title', xaxis_title='X Axis', yaxis_title='Y Axis')
  • Adding Annotations:
    • Usage: fig.add_annotation(x=x, y=y, text='Annotation Text')
  • Customizing Markers and Lines:
    • Usage: fig.update_traces(marker=dict(size=10, symbol='circle'), line=dict(width=2))

Implementation with Code

import as px
import pandas as pd

# Sample data
df = pd.DataFrame({
    'x': range(10),
    'y': [2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29],
    'category': ['A', 'A', 'B', 'B', 'A', 'A', 'B', 'B', 'A', 'B']

# Scatter Plot
fig = px.scatter(df, x='x', y='y', color='category', title='Scatter Plot Example')

# Line Plot
fig = px.line(df, x='x', y='y', color='category', title='Line Plot Example')

# Bar Chart
fig =, x='x', y='y', color='category', title='Bar Chart Example')

# Histogram
fig = px.histogram(df, x='y', nbins=5, title='Histogram Example')

# Heatmap
data = [[1, 20, 30], [20, 1, 60], [30, 60, 1]]
fig = px.imshow(data, text_auto=True, color_continuous_scale='Viridis', title='Heatmap Example')
Python Libraries for Data Visualization
Python Libraries for Data Visualization

4. Bokeh

Bokeh is a Python library designed for creating interactive visualizations for modern web browsers. It provides elegant and concise construction of versatile graphics and delivers high-performance interactivity over large datasets. Bokeh is particularly useful for creating complex and dynamic visualizations that can be easily integrated into web applications. It supports a variety of plot types and interactive features, making it a powerful tool for data visualization in web-based environments


  • Interactive Plots and Dashboards: With Bokeh, users may design extremely interactive data apps, dashboards, and charts. It provides features for zooming, panning, and hovering that improve data exploration and user engagement.
  • Good for Large Datasets: Bokeh is optimized for handling large datasets efficiently. It supports downsampling and data streaming, ensuring smooth performance even with substantial data volumes.
  • Easy Integration with Web Applications: Easily integrate Bokeh plots into online apps with Flask, Django, or Bokeh server. Because of this, it’s a great option for creating interactive data apps and dashboards.
  • Supports Streaming and Real-Time Data: The viewing of live data feeds is made possible by Bokeh’s support for real-time data changes and streaming. Time-sensitive data tracking and monitoring are made especially easy with this function.

Common Functions

  • figure():
    • Creates a new figure for plotting.
    • Usage: p = figure(title="My Plot", x_axis_label='X', y_axis_label='Y')
  • line():
    • Creates a line plot.
    • Usage: p.line(x, y, legend_label="Line", line_width=2)
  • scatter():
    • Creates a scatter plot.
    • Usage: p.scatter(x, y, size=10, color="navy", alpha=0.5)
  • bar():
    • Creates a bar chart.
    • Usage: p.vbar(x=categories, top=values, width=0.5)
  • show():
    • Displays the plot.
    • Usage: show(p)

Additional Functions and Features

  • ColumnDataSource:
    • A fundamental data structure in Bokeh that holds data in a format suitable for plotting.
    • Usage: source = ColumnDataSource(data=dict(x=x, y=y))
  • Widgets:
    • Provides interactive widgets like sliders, buttons, and dropdowns that can be used to create dynamic visualizations.
    • Usage: slider = Slider(start=0, end=10, value=1, step=0.1, title="Slider")
  • Glyphs:
    • Basic visual building blocks of Bokeh plots, including circles, squares, triangles, and more.
    • Usage:, y, size=15, color="firebrick", alpha=0.6)
  • HoverTool:
    • Adds interactivity by displaying tooltips when hovering over plot elements.
    • Usage: p.add_tools(HoverTool(tooltips=[("x", "@x"), ("y", "@y")]))
  • Layouts:
    • Arranges multiple plots and widgets in layouts such as rows, columns, and grids.
    • Usage: layout = column(p, slider)

Implementation with Code

from bokeh.plotting import figure, show, output_notebook

# Enable output in the notebook

# Sample data
x = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
y = [6, 7, 2, 4, 5]

# Create a new plot with a title and axis labels
p = figure(title="Line Plot Example", x_axis_label='X', y_axis_label='Y')

# Add a line renderer with legend and line thickness
p.line(x, y, legend_label="Temp.", line_width=2)

# Show the results

5. Altair

Altair is a declarative statistical visualization library for Python, based on the Vega and Vega-Lite visualization grammars. It is designed for simplicity and efficiency in creating complex statistical plots. Altair allows users to define visualizations in a concise and human-readable syntax, making it easy to generate a wide range of visual representations of data. By leveraging the power of Vega and Vega-Lite, Altair can handle complex data transformations and interactive features seamlessly.


  • Declarative Syntax: Altair’s declarative syntax allows users to define what they want the visualization to look like without needing to specify how to construct it. This results in more readable and maintainable code.
  • Produces Highly Informative Visualizations: Altair excels at creating visually informative and aesthetically pleasing plots. It supports a wide array of plot types and customization options to convey data insights effectively.
  • Easily Handles Complex Data Transformations: Altair provides built-in support for various data transformations, such as aggregations, binning, filtering, and calculating new fields. This makes it easy to manipulate data directly within the visualization specification.
  • Integrates Well with Pandas: Altair integrates seamlessly with Pandas DataFrames, allowing for straightforward data manipulation and visualization. Users can easily convert Pandas DataFrames into Altair charts with minimal effort.

Common Functions

  • Chart():
    • Base class for creating visualizations. It initializes a chart object that can be customized and rendered.
    • Usage: chart = alt.Chart(data)
  • mark_*():
    • Functions for specifying the type of mark (e.g., mark_point(), mark_bar()). These functions define the basic geometric shapes that represent data points in the visualization.
    • Usage: chart.mark_point(), chart.mark_bar()
  • encode():
    • Maps data fields to visual properties (e.g., position, color, size). The encode method specifies how data columns should be represented in the chart.
    • Usage: chart.encode(x='column1', y='column2')

Additional Features and Functions

  • Transform_*():
    • Methods for performing data transformations such as filtering, aggregating, and calculating new fields.
    • Usage: chart.transform_filter('datum.column > value'), chart.transform_aggregate(mean_value='mean(column)')
  • Interactive():
    • Adds interactivity to the chart, enabling features like zooming, panning, and tooltips.
    • Usage: chart.interactive()
  • Layering:
    • Combines multiple charts into a single layered visualization, allowing for complex visual representations.
    • Usage: chart1 + chart2
  • Faceting:
    • Creates small multiples of the chart based on categorical variables, useful for comparing distributions across different groups.
    • Usage: chart.facet('column')
  • Concatenation:
    • Concatenates multiple charts either horizontally or vertically.
    • Usage: alt.hconcat(chart1, chart2), alt.vconcat(chart1, chart2)
  • Themes:
    • Applies built-in or custom themes to the charts for consistent styling.
    • Usage: alt.themes.enable('dark')

Implementation with Code

import pandas as pd
import altair as alt

source = pd.DataFrame({
    "Day": [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15],
    "Value": [55, 112, 65, 38, 80, 138, 120, 103, 395, 200, 72, 51, 112, 175, 131]
threshold = 300

bars = alt.Chart(source).mark_bar(color="steelblue").encode(

highlight = bars.mark_bar(color="#e45755").encode(
    alt.datum.Value > threshold

rule = alt.Chart().mark_rule().encode(

label = rule.mark_text(

(bars + highlight + rule + label)

6. ggplot

ggplot is a Python implementation of the grammar of graphics, based on the well-known ggplot2 library in R. It allows users to create complex and multi-layered visualizations using a consistent grammar. This approach provides a structured and intuitive way to build visualizations by specifying different layers of the plot and their aesthetic mappings.


  • Based on a Proven Grammar of Graphics: ggplot is based on the grammar of graphics, which provides a structured approach to building visualizations by breaking them down into components like data, aesthetics, and layers.
  • Allows for Layered and Complex Plots: Users can create multi-layered plots by adding different geometries and mappings, allowing for complex visualizations that convey multiple dimensions of data.
  • Integrates Well with Pandas: ggplot integrates seamlessly with Pandas DataFrames, enabling easy data manipulation and transformation within the plot specification.
  • Produces Aesthetically Pleasing Graphics: The grammar of graphics approach in ggplot ensures that plots are aesthetically pleasing and can be customized extensively to meet specific design requirements.

Common Functions

  • ggplot():
    • Base function for creating a ggplot object.
    • Usage: ggplot(data)
  • aes():
    • Defines the aesthetic mappings (e.g., x, y, color, size).
    • Usage: aes(x='column1', y='column2', color='column3')
  • geom_*():
    • Functions for adding different geometries or layers to the plot (e.g., points, lines, bars).
    • Usage: geom_point(), geom_line(), geom_bar(), geom_histogram(), etc.

Additional Features and Functions

  • stat_*():
    • Functions for statistical transformations of data (e.g., summarizing, aggregating).
    • Usage: stat_smooth(), stat_bin(), stat_summary()
  • facet_*():
    • Functions for creating small multiples of the plot based on categorical variables.
    • Usage: facet_wrap(), facet_grid()
  • theme_*():
    • Functions for customizing plot appearance (e.g., axis labels, title, background).
    • Usage: theme_bw(), theme_minimal(), theme_void()
  • labs():
    • Functions for customizing plot labels.
    • Usage: labs(title='Title', x='X Axis', y='Y Axis')

Implementation with Code

from plotnine import ggplot, aes, geom_point
import pandas as pd

data = pd.DataFrame({
    'x': range(10),
    'y': range(10)

plot = (ggplot(data, aes('x', 'y')) +


7. Holoviews

Holoviews is a high-level library for creating complex visualizations easily and quickly. It allows you to work with data structures directly and focuses on enabling interactive visualizations with minimal code. Holoviews is designed to handle large datasets efficiently and integrates seamlessly with other visualization libraries like Bokeh and Matplotlib.


  • High-level and Easy to Use: Holoviews provides a high-level interface for creating visualizations, making it easy to generate complex plots with minimal code.
  • Supports Interactive Visualizations: Interactive elements are built into Holoviews, allowing for easy creation of interactive plots that can be explored and customized.
  • Integration with Other Libraries: Holoviews integrates well with other popular libraries like Bokeh and Matplotlib, enabling a wide range of plotting capabilities.
  • Handles Large Datasets Efficiently: Holoviews is designed to handle large datasets efficiently, making it suitable for exploring and visualizing big data.

Common Functions

  • Curve():
    • Creates a curve plot.
    • Usage: hv.Curve(data)
  • Points():
    • Creates a scatter plot.
    • Usage: hv.Points(data)
  • Image():
    • Creates an image plot.
    • Usage: hv.Image(array)
  • HoloMap():
    • Creates interactive maps.
    • Usage: hv.HoloMap({key: object})

Additional Features and Functions

  • Bars():
    • Creates a bar chart.
    • Usage: hv.Bars(data)
  • HeatMap():
    • Creates a heatmap.
    • Usage: hv.HeatMap(data)
  • Dataset():
    • Converts Pandas DataFrame or other tabular data into a Holoviews dataset.
    • Usage: hv.Dataset(data)
  • Overlay():
    • Overlays multiple elements (e.g., curves, points) on the same plot.
    • Usage: hv.Overlay([element1, element2, ...])

Implementation with Code

import numpy as np
import holoviews as hv

# Sample data
x = np.linspace(0, 10, 100)
y = np.sin(x)

# Create a curve plot
curve = hv.Curve((x, y), 'X-axis', 'Y-axis')

# Display the plot using Jupyter notebook integration
hv.extension('bokeh')  # Use the Bokeh backend for plotting

Python Libraries for Data Visualization


Python libraries for data visualization offer versatile tools for creating visually appealing graphics. Matplotlib, Seaborn, Plotly, Bokeh, Altair, and ggplot are popular for web-based applications and dynamic visualizations. Holoviews, capable of handling large datasets and producing interactive visualizations with minimal code, is particularly useful for large datasets. These libraries ensure Python remains a dominant force in data visualization, enabling users to effectively communicate insights and discoveries.

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Ayushi Trivedi 20 May, 2024

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