5 Best Ways to Generate Line Plots in Python Using Pygal

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: When working with data visualization in Python, generating line plots to represent trends over time or comparisons between datasets is crucial. The library Pygal can be utilized for such purposes due to its ability to produce scalable and interactive vector graphics. This article aims to offer methods for creating line plots using Pygal, envisioning inputs as series of data points and outputs as SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) files or interactive plots.

Method 1: Creating a Basic Line Plot

This method involves initializing a Pygal Line chart instance and adding datasets to it. Each dataset in the line plot is a series of points represented by a list of numbers. The resulting plot can be rendered to an SVG file or displayed in a browser, allowing users to hover over the points to see data values.

Here’s an example:

import pygal

# Initialize a line chart object
line_chart = pygal.Line()

# Title of the chart
line_chart.title = 'Browser usage evolution (in %)'

# Adding data
line_chart.add('Firefox', [15, 30, 45, 60, 75])
line_chart.add('Chrome', [5, 10, 15, 20, 25])

# Rendering the SVG file

Output: ‘browser_usage.svg’ is created which is an SVG file representing the line plot.

This snippet initializes a line chart with Pygal, assigns it a title, adds two data series for Firefox and Chrome showing hypothetical browser usage statistics, and finally renders the line chart to an SVG file. The file ‘browser_usage.svg’ is an interactive chart where you can hover over the data points for details.

Method 2: Customizing Line Plot Appearance

To enhance clarity and visual appeal, this method focuses on customizing line plots. Pygal offers a variety of options to alter the style of the chart, such as changing colors, stroke styles, and incorporating tooltips. A custom style can be applied to individual lines or to the entire chart.

Here’s an example:

import pygal
from pygal.style import Style

# Custom style
custom_style = Style(
  colors=('#E8537A', '#E8537A'))

# Initialize a line chart with custom style
line_chart = pygal.Line(style=custom_style)

# Adding data
line_chart.add('Python 3.x', [5, 15, 21, 31, 45])
line_chart.add('Python 2.x', [15, 31, 27, 14, 10])

# Render the SVG

Output: ‘python_versions.svg’ is created with a customized style line plot.

The provided code customizes the appearance of the line chart by defining a new style with background colors, font colors, and line colors. Two data series for different Python versions usage trends are then added to the line chart, which is rendered into an SVG with the applied custom style.

Method 3: Incorporating Tooltips and Data Labels

Pygal can create interactive line plots with tooltips for each data point and labels for easier interpretation. By enabling these features, when a user hovers over a data point, additional information is displayed, which enhances the overall user experience.

Here’s an example:

import pygal

# Initialize line chart with tooltip and label features enabled
line_chart = pygal.Line(tooltip_fancy_mode=True, show_legend=True, x_label_rotation=20)

# Title of the chart
line_chart.title = 'Revenue Growth'

# X-axis labels
line_chart.x_labels = map(str, range(2012, 2022))

# Adding data with labels
line_chart.add('Product A', [(2012, 15), (2013, 30), (2014, 45), (2015, 60), (2016, 75)], show_dots=True, dots_size=3)
line_chart.add('Product B', [(2012, 5), (2013, 10), (2014, 15), (2015, 20), (2016, 25)], show_dots=True, dots_size=3)

# Render to file

Output: ‘revenue_growth.svg’ is created, displaying labeled data points with tooltips.

In the above code, a line chart is constructed with enhanced interaction through the use of tooltips and rotated labels for the X-axis. Two data series with labels for product revenue over time are plotted, which results in an SVG file that provides the user with a dynamic data viewing experience on hover.

Method 4: Adding Dynamism with Animation

Pygal also allows for animations to make the line plots more engaging. The line chart can be animated using JavaScript when the SVG is viewed in a web browser, giving a dynamic presentation as the data points and lines are drawn.

Here’s an example:

import pygal

# Initialize an animated line chart
line_chart = pygal.Line(animate=True)

# Title
line_chart.title = 'Yearly Sales'

# Data
line_chart.add('Electronics', [10, 24, 36, 40, 54])
line_chart.add('Toys', [15, 29, 47, 28, 39])

# Save the SVG

Output: ‘yearly_sales.svg’ file is created with animated lines as they draw to display data points over time.

Creating an animated line plot, the snippet sets the animate parameter to true when initializing the Pygal line chart. As a result, the SVG file produced will show animated drawing of lines when opened in a web browser, thus engaging the viewer as the sales data is presented over time.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Quickly Plot a Line Chart

For a rapid depiction of data, Pygal offers a succinct method to plot a line chart with minimal code. This one-liner assumes default settings but is perfect for quick and simple visual analysis.

Here’s an example:

pygal.Line()(title='Quick Plot', x_labels=map(str, range(10)), y_labels=map(str, range(10))).add('Data', [3, 1, 4, 7, 5]).render_to_file('quick_plot.svg') 

Output: ‘quick_plot.svg’ file with a basic line plot is generated.

This one-liner provides a quick and efficient way to create a line chart in Pygal. The desired title, x-labels, and y-labels are declared inline, followed by the inclusion of the data series and rendering of the SVG file. It’s an effective method for rapid visualizations when working interactively or in scenarios where customization is not a priority.


  • Method 1: Basic Line Plot. Easy to implement for straightforward datasets. It provides interactivity but with limited customization.
  • Method 2: Custom Appearance. Offers visual appeal and clarity, suited for presentations where branding or specific design guidelines must be followed.
  • Method 3: Tooltips and Data Labels. Improves user experience with interactive elements and provides easy data interpretation with labeled points.
  • Method 4: Animation. Engages viewers with dynamic chart rendering, ideal for web-based displays and capturing audience interest.
  • Method 5: Quick One-Liner. Best for rapid plotting without the need for customized styles or additional features; good for quick checks and basic visualizations.