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Python Development May 25, 2023

Is Bokeh the Future of Data Visualization with Interactive Python Plots?

Writen by Dharmesh Patel


Data visualization plays a crucial role in understanding and communicating insights from data. Python, being a versatile programming language, offers numerous libraries for creating visualizations. Among them, Bokeh stands out as a powerful and user-friendly library that allows you to build interactive visualizations with ease. 

Bokeh is an open-source Python library specifically designed for creating interactive visualizations for modern web browsers. It enables you to generate rich, interactive plots, charts, and dashboards that can be easily shared and deployed across different platforms. Whether you’re a data scientist, web developer, or data enthusiast, Bokeh provides a comprehensive set of tools to help you bring your data to life. 

With just a few lines of Python code, Bokeh enables you to create interactive, JavaScript-powered visualizations displayable in a web browser. 

Its workflow involves two stages selecting visual building blocks and customizing them. Bokeh integrates a Python library responsible for defining visualization content and interactivity with BokehJS, a JavaScript library that handles the display in web browsers. Bokeh automates the generation of JavaScript and HTML code and supports the loading of supplementary JavaScript from Bokeh’s CDN for enhanced functionality. 

Bokeh’s documentation consists of several elements, including the user guide with detailed explanations and examples and the reference guide that systematically describes every element of Bokeh. In this guide, you will find links to both those resources. 

Key Features of Bokeh: 

  1. Interactive Visualizations: Bokeh allows users to create interactive plots that respond to user input, such as mouse movements, clicks, or selections. This interactivity enhances data exploration and enables users to gain deeper insights by dynamically manipulating visual elements.
  2. Multiple Rendering Options: Bokeh offers multiple rendering options, making it flexible for various use cases. It supports rendering visualizations as HTML documents, standalone web applications, or embedded components within other Python frameworks like Flask and Django.
  3. Diverse Plotting Types: Bokeh supports a wide range of plotting types, including scatter plots, line plots, bar plots, histograms, heatmaps, and more. These plot types can be customized extensively to suit specific data visualization requirements.
  4. High-performance Rendering: Bokeh leverages modern web technologies, such as HTML5 Canvas and WebGL, to efficiently render interactive plots. This enables smooth interaction even with large datasets and complex visualizations.
  5. Cross-platform Compatibility: Bokeh visualizations can be displayed on different platforms and devices, including desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. The responsive design ensures that the visualizations adapt to various screen sizes, maintaining their interactivity and readability.
  6. Cross-language Support: Bokeh supports multiple programming languages, including Python, R, and Julia, allowing users to leverage Bokeh’s capabilities in their preferred language environment.
  7. Community and Documentation: Bokeh has an active community of users and developers, providing support, examples, and tutorials. The official Bokeh documentation is comprehensive, making it easier for users to get started and explore its advanced features. 

Getting Started with Bokeh:  

To start using Bokeh, you need to install it via pip, a package manager for Python. Once installed, you can import Bokeh in your Python script or Jupyter Notebook and begin creating visualizations. 

Bokeh provides multiple interfaces for creating plots. The most used interface is the ‘bokeh.plotting’ module, which offers a convenient way to define and customize visual elements. You can create plots, add data, and configure various plot attributes such as titles, axes, legends, and tooltips. 

Bokeh follows a declarative approach, allowing users to define plots and visual elements using a concise syntax. Here’s a simple example to illustrate the basic usage of Bokeh: 

Bokeh declarative approach

When you execute these lines of code, Bokeh creates an output file “example.html”. Bokeh also opens a browser to display it. 

See the results in browser: 

Multiple Line Example

Similarly, Bokeh can be capable of creating such interactive visualizations for the web. 

interactive visualizations


Bokeh is a powerful Python library that empowers users to create interactive visualizations for the web. With its intuitive API and extensive customization options, Bokeh enables you to create visually appealing plots, charts, and dashboards that engage and inform your audience. Whether you’re exploring data, presenting insights, or building web applications, Bokeh is a valuable tool in your data visualization toolkit. By leveraging Bokeh’s capabilities, you can effectively communicate complex information, uncover hidden. 



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