This lesson is in the early stages of development (Alpha version)

Interactive Data Visualizations in Python: Setup

Getting the Files

The dataset we will be using is taken from the gapminder dataset, just like the Plotting and Programming in Python workshop. We will also be using a special environment, which can be recreated on your machine using Anaconda.

To obtain the dataset and environment, download the file If given the option, choose to Save File in your Desktop folder. If you are not given the option to choose where to save the file, then move this zipped file to your Desktop. Finally, double click the zipped file to unzip it. You should now have a folder called data_viz_workshop. If you open this folder, you will see a file called environment.yml and a folder called Data.

Create the environment before the workshop to save time

Your instructor may tell you to go ahead and create the dataviz environment in advance, and start the workshop from Episode 2 if time is short. If so, then go ahead and create the dataviz environment and open Jupyter Lab in the project root directory (Desktop/data_viz_workshop). Follow the directions in Create a new environment).

Create a GitHub account (if you don’t already have one)

You can sign up for a GitHub account at

Make sure to choose a general purpose email that you are likely to still have access to in 5 years - that is, not an email tied to a specific workplace, university, or Internet Service Provider.

Make sure to also choose an appropriate username that you are comfortable putting on your resume or sharing with colleagues - some variation of your name is a good idea.

After you have a GitHub account, you should also download GitHub Desktop, so that you can clone, pull, and push without having to use the command line. You can download GitHub Desktop here.

Installing Python Using Anaconda

Python is a popular language for research computing, and great for general-purpose programming as well. Installing all of its research packages individually can be a bit difficult, so we recommend Anaconda, an all-in-one installer.

Regardless of how you choose to install it, please make sure you install Python version 3.x (e.g., 3.6 is fine).

We will teach Python using the Jupyter Notebook, a programming environment that runs in a web browser (Jupyter Notebook will be installed by Anaconda). For this to work you will need a reasonably up-to-date browser. The current versions of the Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers are all supported (some older browsers, including Internet Explorer version 9 and below, are not).

  1. Open with your web browser.
  2. Download the Anaconda for Windows installer with Python 3. (If you are not sure which version to choose, you probably want the 64-bit Graphical Installer Anaconda3-...-Windows-x86_64.exe)
  3. Install Python 3 by running the Anaconda Installer, using all of the defaults for installation except make sure to check Add Anaconda to my PATH environment variable.

Video Tutorial

  1. Open with your web browser.
  2. Download the Anaconda Installer with Python 3 for macOS (you can either use the Graphical or the Command Line Installer).
  3. Install Python 3 by running the Anaconda Installer using all of the defaults for installation.

Video Tutorial

  1. Open with your web browser.
  2. Download the Anaconda Installer with Python 3 for Linux.
    (The installation requires using the shell. If you aren't comfortable doing the installation yourself stop here and request help at the workshop.)
  3. Open a terminal window and navigate to the directory where the executable is downloaded (e.g., `cd ~/Downloads`).
  4. Type
    bash Anaconda3-
    and then press Tab to autocomplete the full file name. The name of file you just downloaded should appear.
  5. Press Enter (or Return depending on your keyboard). You will follow the text-only prompts. To move through the text, press Spacebar. Type yes and press enter to approve the license. Press Enter (or Return) to approve the default location for the files. Type yes and press Enter (or Return) to prepend Anaconda to your PATH (this makes the Anaconda distribution the default Python).
  6. Close the terminal window.