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Introducing Observable Plot

A new open-source JavaScript library for exploratory data visualization

  • Mike Bostock

We are thrilled to announce Observable Plot, a new open-source JavaScript library for exploratory data visualization.

Observable’s mission is to help everyone make sense of the world with data. To succeed, we need to make visualization easier and faster, both to learn and to practice. Less chore, more joy. We believe people will be more successful finding and communicating insights if they can “use vision to think” instead of wrestling with the intricacies of programming.

With its concise and (hopefully) memorable API, Observable Plot lets you try out ideas quickly. You can make a meaningful chart with as little as one line of code. Yet Plot is still powerful and expressive when you need it. Plot is highly configurable and supports interaction with minimal fuss through Observable dataflow. And Plot is designed to be extended — we can’t wait to see where the community takes it.

Plot’s aim is speed and convenience. Our hope is you’ll spend less time reading the docs, searching for snippets, and debugging — and more time asking questions of data. With faster iteration, you can see more of your data and find more insights.

Plot not only has intuitive syntax but makes it incredibly easy to iterate through different chart types and faceting methods. With Observable Plot, I was able to find patterns in my data in minutes.

Maya Gans, Informatics Application Developer & Observable Ambassador

Plot is informed by ten years of maintaining D3 but does not replace it. We continue to support and develop D3, and recommend its low-level approach for bespoke explanatory visualizations and as a foundation for higher-level exploratory visualization tools.

In fact, Plot is built on D3! Observable Plot is more akin to Vega-Lite, another great tool for exploration. We designed Plot to pair beautifully with Observable: to leverage Observable dataflow for fluid exploration and interaction. However, Plot does not depend on Observable; use it wherever you like.

Plot is currently beta. It’s ready for use, but nowhere near done. We’re just getting started. We want to build this together with you, our community. Please try Plot and share your feedback — your joys and your struggles. We can make visualization easier, together.

To get started with Observable Plot, please see the overview. For hands-on learning, try our semi-guided and exploration-based tutorials. We will also hold a live Plot workshop on May 18th at 9AM PT. Join us!

We want to give special thanks to our Observable Ambassadors who provided early feedback as we were building Plot.

Interested in learning more about collaborating with data?