I have a two column table consisting of: date, user_id.
I'd like to visualize a grid with date along the x axis, and user_id along the y.
If date, user_id exists, I'd like to show a grid with a color, say green.
If date, user_id does not exist, I'd like to show a grid in white.
Bonus points if date, user_id shows up multiple points resulting in a darker green color.

What tool, preferably free and online, is best suited to visualize these data in the manner I've described? Follow up question: which other tools are good at visualizing time series data of user events as a calendar? Something like: https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gallery/calendar


1 Answer 1


Two ways to do this are either using a heatmap or the calendar chart/calendar heatmap from the Google Charts API. I am sure that there are other ways to visualize data like this. Note that you will probably need to do a preliminary aggregation to the date, user_id level using mean.


This works particularly well when you have multiple variables.

# install_github('googleVis', 'mages')

# 1. multiple variables; heatmap
# generate sequence of dates
vDates = seq.Date(from = as.Date('29-11-2012', 
                                 format = '%d-%m-%Y'), 
                  length.out = 203, by = 'day')

# generate the random samples
dfHeatMap = as.matrix(rdirichlet(length(vDates), runif(15)))
row.names(dfHeatMap) = as.character(vDates)

# adjust column labels for neater plotting
vDatesNew = rep(as.Date(NA), length(vDates))
vDatesNew[seq(from = 1, to = 203, by = 10)] = 
  vDates[seq(from = 1, to = 203, by = 10)]

# adjust row labels for neater plotting
labRow = c(NA, NA, 3, NA, NA, 6, NA, NA, 9, 
           NA, NA, 12, NA, NA, 15)

# draw the heatmap with aspect control
png('heatmap.png', height = 900, width = 1200, pointsize = 16)
aspectHeatmap(t(dfHeatMap), Rowv = NA, Colv = NA, 
              col = cm.colors(256), labCol = vDatesNew, labRow = labRow,
              margins = c(5, 5), hExp = 1.5, wExp = 4, cex.lab = 2)

enter image description here

Calendar heatmap:

This uses the Google Charts API for calendar charts. I took some of the configurations for this from here. An almost identical static version of this can be found here.

# 2. calendar chart from google charts API via googleVis
# NOTE: this handles only one variable
# NOTE: http://lamages.blogspot.in/2014/04/calendar-charts-with-googlevis.html
dfHeatMap2 = data.frame(heatValue = runif(length(vDates)), 
                       dates = vDates)

  gvisCalendar(data=dfHeatMap2, datevar="dates", numvar="heatValue",
                 title="Randomly generated proportion variable",
                                 yearLabel:{fontSize:20, color:'#444444'},
                 width=1600, height=1200),
              ), file = 'something.html', tag = 'chart')

enter image description here


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