New Open Source Library Makes Data Visualization Attainable for Any JavaScript Developer

Observable Plot accelerates data analysis with faster, iterative, exploratory visualization

Observable Plot enables rapid data exploration with just a few lines of code

SAN FRANCISCO--()--Observable, the collaborative data visualization company, today launched the beta version of Observable Plot, an open-source JavaScript library that enables developers to easily create visual representations to explore and interpret data.

“Having worked as an engineer and with developers for more than 25 years, it’s been my mission to understand what it is that empowers them to work better,” said Melody Meckfessel, CEO and cofounder of Observable. “I believe that everyone who uses visualization, in a collaborative, and transparent way, will be better at their job. At Observable, we set out to make visualization more practicable and approachable by rethinking how we code, embracing dataflow and collaboration. Now we’re taking another step towards making it more approachable with a new tool for exploratory visualization, Observable Plot.”

Observable Plot distills more than 10 years of industry leading visualization experience into a powerful and easy-to-learn API. Rather than get bogged down with the technical details of rendering graphics, Observable Plot helps users think about the data they’re working with and keeps them focused on finding insights.

  • Observable Plot packs sensible defaults into a concise API that is easy to remember. With just a few lines of intuitive code, you can construct a meaningful visualization. Then you can quickly change perspective with small additions such as facets, scales, and data transformations.
  • Observable Plot has powerful built-in functions for working with tabular and time-series data. With one line of code, you can apply a moving average to a line chart or bin data by time period. These techniques are composable — users are not limited to a fixed set of predefined charts.

“The goal of exploratory visualization is primarily speed: how quickly can you construct a meaningful view that answers your question? The less effort it takes to sketch a visualization, the more variations you can afford to try and the better the final result,” said Mike Bostock, co-founder and CTO of Observable, and creator of the popular data visualization library D3.js. “With Observable Plot, it’s easier to sketch, and tweak to quickly explore a dataset from many angles.”

As users get to know their data they can easily and quickly customize all the important aspects of their visualizations. For those who want to push the limits of customization, Plot can be extended with plugins using D3.js. Observable Plot was purposefully designed to work with Observable or as an independent open-source library.

“Plot not only has intuitive syntax but makes it incredibly easy to iterate through different chart types and faceting methods,” said Maya Gans, informatics application developer at Atorus Research. “Using D3.js for data exploration can take me hours or days, but with Observable Plot I was able to find patterns in my data in minutes.”

“Observable Plot is all about productive pace. A chart that takes me 20-30 minutes to build in D3 takes 5-10 minutes to build with it,” said Mark McClure, professor of mathematics and data dabbler at the University of North Carolina, Asheville and owner of WNCViz. “As an educator getting ready for class that day, that makes the difference between a demonstration making it into class or not.”

Get started with Observable Plot, and join the May 18th Introduction to Plot Workshop. Register here.

About Observable

Observable is where people can create, collaborate, and learn with data. It was founded by Mike Bostock, the author of D3.js, and Melody Meckfessel, with the mission of helping everyone make sense of the world with data. Observable is a Series A startup headquartered in San Francisco, California.


Melissa Logan for Observable

Release Summary

Observable announces the beta version of Plot, enabling developers to easily create visual representations to explore and interpret data.


Melissa Logan for Observable