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Interactive Data Visualization with Python and Bokeh

Last Updated : 24 Jan, 2023
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In this article, we’ll learn how to do Interactive Data Visualization with Bokeh. Bokeh is a Python library that is used for creating interactive visualizations for modern web browsers. It handles custom or specialized use cases very simply.  It provides high-performance interactive charts and plots. Bokeh output can be obtained in various mediums like a notebook, HTML, and server. It is possible to embed bokeh plots in Django and Flask apps. Here we will be exploring all the key features and code for it. So let’s get started.

To install the bokeh library run the following command in the terminal : 

pip install bokeh
import bokeh

Where to use Bokeh charts?

There are various Python libraries that can be used to plot graphs and charts. If your focus is on website interactivity, then Bokeh is the better choice than other libraries. We can use the bokeh library to embed the charts on the web page, make live dashboards, etc.  Bokeh provides highly interactive graphs and plots that target modern web browsers for presentations.

Example 1: Builtin Themes

Here, we have first imported the required libraries and then set X and Y values. Next, we’ve named the output file “output.html” A for loop is used to output all the themes available in Bokeh. Run the following code to use the built-in themes.


from import curdoc
from bokeh.plotting import figure, output_file, show
x = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
y = [6, 7, 6, 4, 5]
themes = ['contrast', 'night_sky', 'light_minimal',
          'caliber', 'dark_minimal']
for i in themes:
    curdoc().theme = i
    p = figure(title=i, width=300, height=300), y)



Example 2: Zoom and Drag

There are mainly 6 classifications: 

  • Pan/Drag Tool: The pan tool moves the graph within the plot.
  • Box Zoom Tool: The box zoom tool (magnifying glass symbol) is used to zoom into an area of the plot.
  • Zoom in and out Tool: In order to zoom in and out with a mouse wheel, the wheel zoom tool is used.
  • Save Tool: To save the current plot as a PNG file, the save tool is used.
  • Reset Tool: To reset the plot as it was before, the reset tool is used.
  • Help Tool: To learn more about the tools available in Bokeh, the help tool is used.


# Importing Bokeh Library
from bokeh.plotting import figure, output_file, show
# Importing numpy for calculating sin values
import numpy as np
x = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
y = [6, 7, 2, 4, 5]
fig = figure()
fig.step(x, y, line_width=2)
# Image Showing



Example 3: Configuring the Toolbar Location

By default, the position of the toolbar is above the plot. The positioning can be changed by passing  the toolbar_location parameter to the figure() function as shown below:

Syntax: Figure(*args, **kwargs)


  • title: the title of your line chart (optional)
  • width: Width of figure
  • height: Height of figure.
  • x_axis_label: a text label to put on the chart’s x-axis (optional)
  • y_axis_label: a text label to put on the chart’s y-axis (optional)
  • toolbar_location: used to set the location of the toolbar. These are “above”, “below”, “left” and “right”

In this example, we have simply added the toolbar_location parameter and set its value to “below” to set the toolbar_location below. As you can see, the toolbar is now relocated below. Similarly, you can experiment with passing other values as mentioned above.


from import curdoc
from bokeh.plotting import figure, output_file, show
x = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
y = [6, 7, 6, 4, 5]
p = figure(title='demo', width=300, height=300,
           toolbar_location="below"), y)



Example 4: Adding Hover Actions

The hover tool is a passive inspector tool. It is always active by default. The hover tool, by default,  generates a “tabular” tooltip where each row contains a label and its associated value. The labels and values are supplied as a list of (label, value) tuples.

TOOLTIPS = [ (“index”, “$index”),  (“(x,y)”, “($x, $y)”), (“desc”, “@desc”) ]

Note: The tooltips list consists of tuples specifying name and the field name to display.

We have defined TOOLTIPS in the above code. It is what will get displayed when we’ll hover over a data point. The labels and values are supplied as a list of (label, value) tuples. We notice that the field names begin with  $ and @. The ones beginning with $ are “special fields” and the field names beginning with @ are associated with columns in a ColumnDataSource.


from bokeh.plotting import ColumnDataSource, figure, output_file, show
source = ColumnDataSource(data=dict(
    x=[1, 2, 3, 4, 5],
    y=[2, 5, 8, 2, 7],
    desc=['A', 'b', 'C', 'd', 'E'],
    ("index", "$index"),
    ("(x,y)", "($x, $y)"),
    ("desc", "@desc"),
p = figure(width=400, height=400, tooltips=TOOLTIPS,
           title="Mouse over the dots")'x', 'y', size=20, source=source)



Example 5: Highlighting Data using the Legend

We have plotted a line graph with ‘Date’ as the x-axis and ‘Close’ as the y-axis. Further, we have set p.legend.click_policy to “hide” in order to hide the desirable glyph. We can hide the desirable glyph by simply clicking on an entry in a legend. Bokeh provides a feature to do so by setting the legend click_policy property to “hide” as given below:


import pandas as pd
from bokeh.palettes import Spectral4
from bokeh.plotting import figure, output_file, show
from bokeh.sampledata.stocks import AAPL, GOOG, IBM, MSFT
p = figure(width=800, height=250, x_axis_type="datetime")
p.title.text = 'Click on legend entries \
            to hide the corresponding lines'
for data, name, color in zip([AAPL, IBM, MSFT,
                              GOOG], ["AAPL", "IBM",
                                      "MSFT", "GOOG"],
    df = pd.DataFrame(data)
    df['date'] = pd.to_datetime(df['date'])
    p.line(df['date'], df['close'], line_width=2,
           color=color, alpha=0.8,
p.legend.location = "top_left"
p.legend.click_policy = "hide"
            title=" example")



Example 6: Linking axes and selections

Linking is required when we need plots to add connected interactivity between plots. There are two types of linking:

  1. Linked panning
  2. Linked brushing

Linked panning

It is used when it is required to link pan or zooming actions across more than one plot.


from import output_file, show
from bokeh.layouts import gridplot
from bokeh.plotting import figure
x = list(range(11))
y0 = x
y1 = [10-xx for xx in x]
y2 = [abs(xx-5) for xx in x]
# create a new plot
s1 = figure(width=250, height=250, title=None), y0, size=10, color="navy", alpha=0.5)
# create a new plot and share both ranges
s2 = figure(width=250, height=250, x_range=s1.x_range,
            y_range=s1.y_range, title=None)
s2.triangle(x, y1, size=10, color="firebrick", alpha=0.5)
# create a new plot and share only one range
s3 = figure(width=250, height=250, x_range=s1.x_range, title=None)
s3.square(x, y2, size=10, color="olive", alpha=0.5)
p = gridplot([[s1, s2, s3]], toolbar_location=None)
# show the results



Linked Brushing

 Linked brushing is achieved by sharing data sources between glyph renderers.


from import output_file, show
from bokeh.layouts import gridplot
from bokeh.models import ColumnDataSource
from bokeh.plotting import figure
x = list(range(-20, 21))
y0 = [abs(xx) for xx in x]
y1 = [xx**2 for xx in x]
# create a column data source for the plots to share
source = ColumnDataSource(data=dict(x=x, y0=y0, y1=y1))
TOOLS = "box_select,lasso_select,help"
# create a new plot and add a renderer
left = figure(tools=TOOLS, width=300, height=300, title=None)'x', 'y0', source=source)
# create another new plot and add a renderer
right = figure(tools=TOOLS, width=300, height=300, title=None)'x', 'y1', source=source)
p = gridplot([[left, right]])



Difference between Bokeh vs Matplotlib vs Plotly




Bokeh is a data visualization library that is used by many data science professionals. Plots made with Bokeh are flexible, interactive, and shareable. It is one of the most simple ways to plot data in Python. It is also integrated with Pandas.  It is capable of handling geographical, scientific, statistical, and financial data. Used to create interactive web-based visualizations and even web applications.  It is built on javascript
It has many interactive components like zoom, pan, search a coordinate, etc. The functionalities can be extended by using third-party packages. No third-party packages are required.
It has various output options for the plotted graphs. Each additional plot feature requires an additional required code line of code. Plotting using Plotly requires only a few lines of code.
Styling graphs with bokeh is a tedious process. It is difficult to modify/export your plot. Makes it easier to modify and export your plot.
Bokeh is the ideal tool to build dashboards and charts quickly with interactivity.  Matplotlib is a quick and straightforward tool for creating visualizations within Python. Plotly creates more beautiful plots.
Only Python programming language can be used. It is great for beginners but only Python can be used. It is compatible with many programming languages.
 The dashboard is served using the Bokeh server. It also uses a dash. The dashboard is served using the dash.
Handling of data is faster. It is compatible with IPython shells, Python scripts, and Jupyter notebooks. Handling data takes time.
There are no 3D graphing features available. It provides 3D graphing features. Also provides 3D graphing features.

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