Terminal-based graphing via ANSI and Unicode

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LTS Haskell 8.3:
Stackage Nightly 2017-02-28:
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MIT licensed by Cliff Harvey
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Build Status Hackage Ansigraph on Stackage Nightly

Terminal-based graphing via ANSI and Unicode

Complex wave demo


Ansigraph is an ultralightweight terminal-based graphing utility. It uses Unicode characters and ANSI escape codes to display and animate colored graphs of vectors/functions in real and complex variables.

Specifically we use the Unicode characters ▁▂▃▄▅▆▇█ which allow for graphing of quantities in units of 1/8. By utilizing ANSI SGR coloring codes, we can also include a region for negative values by using the same characters and swapping the foreground and background colors. There's also functionality for displaying matrices via the "density"-like characters ░▒▓█. Both kinds of graphs have complex number versions, which show real and imaginary components separately with distinct colors.

In all cases the resulting view is necessarily a rough one; the intended role of this library is to provide very easy, low-overhead, "quick and dirty" views of data sets when a more weighty graphing solution would be overkill.


This functionality is provided by a Graphable type class, whose method graphWith draws a graph at the terminal. Another function animateWith takes a list of Graphable elements and displays an animation by rendering them in sequence. Both of these functions take an options record as an argument. The graph and animate functions are defined to use the default options, and the user can define similar functions based on their own settings.

The package is intended to be used in one of two ways.

Importing System.Console.Ansigraph provides all the functionality we typically use. This includes the FlexibleInstances extension, which makes it marginally more convenient to use graphing functions by allowing instances like Graphable [Double].

If you want to use the package without activating FlexibleInstances then you can import System.Console.Ansigraph.Core, which provides everything except these instances. Then you must use one of a few newtype wrappers, namely: Graph, PosGraph, CGraph, Mat, CMat. These wrappers are also available from the standard Ansigraph module.

Some of these wrappers may be useful even when working from the main module because it indicates a particular kind of graph is to be used. For example, PosGraph holds the same kind of data as Graph but uses a graph style that assumes its data to be positive. For the same reason it may prove useful to define other wrapper data types when new approaches to terminal graphing are devised.


A minimal example would be the following.

λ> import System.Console.Ansigraph
λ> let v = [1..30] :: [Double]
λ> graph v

Notice that the graph is always normalized relative to the maximum value present. Since in this case our data is strictly-positive, we could have instead opted for the corresponding positive graph style via graph (PosGraph v), which would generate the same output except the blank line at the bottom, corresponding to the empty negative region, would be absent.

In the Examples module included in the package, we also define a complex exponential wave, which is depicted at the top of this page. The static version is defined and graphed like this:

λ> import Data.Complex
λ> let wave = cis . (*) (pi/20) <$> [0..79] :: [Complex Double]
λ> graph wave

To make an animation, we need a list of graphable elements. This one is created by multiplying the wave by exp(it) in some units.

λ> let deltas = (*) (-pi/10) <$> [0..50]
λ> let waves = zipWith (\z -> map (* z)) (cis <$> deltas) $ replicate 50 wave
λ> animate waves

This produces the animation seen at the top of this page.

Future work

Some of the type signatures could, and probably should be generalized, in particular to eliminate the need for annotating floating point types at the REPL, like I did above. I also plan to add support for sideways style graphs, like I use in my probability package.

Of course, feedback and pull requests are welcome.


Ansigraph Changelog

Version 0.3

  • Change all IO operations to work over any MonadIO. Since GHC 8 this is available in base, so the dependency on transformers is only required for previous versions.

  • Support GHC versions back to 7.6.

  • Reexport the Color and ColorIntensity data types from ansi-terminal for full use of the range of ANSI colors without importing that package.

Version 0.2

  • Improved method of displaying animations so that successive frames overwrite previous ones instead of generating many pages of output. This requires the addition of the graphHeight :: Graphable a => a -> Int type class method.

  • Improved matrix graphing. Now there are distinct colors to represent positive and negative values, as well as real versus imaginary components. Examples added.

  • The Coloring data type representing possible terminal colorings has been changed to take Maybe AnsiColors, where Nothing indicates use of the default terminal colors.

  • Some names have been changed for greater clarity and consistency.

  • Dependency bounds updated for GHC 8.

Version 0.1

Initial release.

Used by 2 packages:
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