Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pie chart in gnuplot

Although it is advised that use pie chart as less as possible. Some times a pie chart can clearly show the percentage of some component and it is useful. So I will talk about how to make a pie chart in gnuplot.

There is no command to create a pie chart in gnuplot. To plot a pie chart we need to play some tricks.

A pie chart is made up of some sectors with different colors. First we come to see how to plot a sector.

Sectors are parts of a sphere symmetrical plane, so it easy to plot a sector in parametric mode using splot command. For example, commands
set term png
set output "sector.png"
set parametric
set urange [0:pi/3]
set vrange [0:1]
set view map
set size square
unset border
unset tics
unset colorbox
splot cos(u)*v,sin(u)*v,1 w pm3d notitle
create a sector like follows.
Sector plotted using gnuplot
Since we have solved the problem of drawing a sector, now we come to make some sectors to form a pie chart. The following is a file describing the income percentage in diffrent country of a company, we would like to plot it to a pie chart.
England    0.2
France    0.1
Canada    0.3
America    0.2
Japan    0.1
China    0.1
The begining and ending angles of a sector is controled by the urange, but it is not convinient to set the urange dynamically in gnuplot. So we will use python to do some assistant work. Our python script is shown below.
import os
import math

def sign(x):
  Sign function.
  sign(x)=1 when x >=0
  sign(x)=1 when else.
  if (x>=0):
    return 1
    return -1

input=file("data.txt","r")    #open data file
plot=file("pie.gnuplot","w")    #open plot script file

#Some plot commands
set term png    #terminal and output file
set output "pie.png"
set size square    #square size
set isosample 50,50    #samples
set parametric    #parametric mode on
set xrange [-1:1]    #x,y,v range
set yrange [-1:1]
set vrange [0:1]
unset border    #no border, tics and colorbox
unset xtics
unset ytics
unset colorbox
set view map    #the view point
set palette defined(0 "red",1 "green",2 "blue",\\
    3 "yellow",4 "cyan",5 "brown",6 "greenyellow",\\
    7 "gray",8"bisque",9"violet",10"black")
#The color palette
set cbrange [0:10]
set multiplot    #multiplot mode
#output the commands to plot script file
#The begin value of u(dummy variable in parametric plot)
i=0. #The item indicate
while True:
  ##Read data
  if len(data)==0:    #if end of data file, break

  ##Caculate some parameters
  u_end=u_begin+float(data[1])    #end value of u
  ang=(u_begin+u_end)*math.pi    #the angle lables will be rotated
  x=x+sign(x)*0.2    #x value of label position
  y=y+sign(y)*0.2    #y value of label position

  ##Output some plot commands
  plot.write("set urange [%f*2*pi:%f*2*pi]\n" \
  %(u_begin,u_end))    #command set the range of variable u
  plot.write('set label %d center "%s" at %f,%f rotate \
  by %f*180/pi\n' %(int(i+1),data[0],x,y,ang))
  #command set the labels
  plot.write("splot cos(u)*v,sin(u)*v,%f w pm3d \
  notitle\n" %i)
  #command plot a sector

  u_begin=u_end    #the next begin value of u

plot.write("unset multiplot") #plot command

input.close()    #close files

os.system("gnuplot plot.gplt")    #execute the plot script
Note that although we use a python script, the plot is done by gnuplot. Python is used only to create the gnuplot plot script, i.e., to do some text work.

Run this python script we get a gnuplot script named pie.gnuplot and the following pie chart.

Fig.1 Pie chart created by gnuplot with assistance of python

Posts Plot a pie chart using gnuplot and Pie charting using gnuplot give new solutions of pie chart plotting and anyone interested in can take for a reference.


  1. Best blog over gnuplot, is birthday, i am like very


  2. Very impressive!

  3. Hello, I don't know python. I am converting this to a different language. Can you tell me what these two statements are doing? I know it depends on the value of the variables, but I'm unsure what the %(var1,var2) produces. Thanks!

    1. u_begin*2*pi means the begin-angle of a sector, and u_end*2*pi means the end-angle of a sector.

      In plot.write('set label %d center "%s" at %f,%f rotate by %f*180/pi\n' %(int(i+1),data[0],x,y,ang)), int(i+1) is the indicate of the label, data[0] is the label content, (x,y) is the position of the label, and ang is the degree the label should be rotated.

      I hope that I have make the meanings of those value clear!

    2. Yes, thank you! It is working and it is very nice! One problem I am having; do you have any idea why my label rotation does not work? It is either 0 or 90. I have tried may different values for "rotate by", but I get only 0 or 90 rotation. I am using gnuplot 4.6 with Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 5.5 (Tikanga). Thank You!

      Here is my script:

      set term png
      set output "/tmp/proj1/temp6254941099.png"
      set size square
      set isosample 50,50
      set parametric
      set xrange [-1:1]
      set yrange [-1:1]
      set vrange [0:1]
      unset border
      unset xtics
      unset ytics
      unset colorbox
      set view map
      set palette defined(0 "red",1 "green",2 "blue",\
      3 "yellow",4 "cyan",5 "brown",6 "greenyellow",\
      7 "gray",8"bisque",9"violet",10"black")
      set cbrange [0:10]
      set multiplot
      set urange [0:2.4630085984]
      set label 1 center "Charges" at .5328195458499619336,1.142990535424521155 rotate by 70.56
      splot cos(u)*v,sin(u)*v,0 w pm3d notitle
      set urange [2.4630085984:2.764601488]
      set label 2 center "Payments" at -1.063923415688659883,.7036232042160477935 rotate by 149.76
      splot cos(u)*v,sin(u)*v,1 w pm3d notitle
      set urange [2.764601488:3.2169908224]
      set label 3 center "Write Offs" at -1.188651744224520582,.3502255924994577459 rotate by 171.36
      splot cos(u)*v,sin(u)*v,2 w pm3d notitle
      set urange [3.2169908224:5.7302649024]
      set label 4 center "Refunds" at -.4364990019905754847,-1.171631731705722841 rotate by 256.32
      splot cos(u)*v,sin(u)*v,3 w pm3d notitle
      set urange [5.7302649024:6.2831852]
      set label 5 center "Bad Debt" at 1.162027669712629851,-.4729519421203798102 rotate by 344.16
      splot cos(u)*v,sin(u)*v,4 w pm3d notitle
      unset multiplot

    3. Your script run well on my computer. The labels are rotated correctly. And I use gnuplot4.6 on a windows xp system. So this is a system dependent problem.
      The official document says the rotate property of label is terminal dependent. If the terminal does not support this property, the text will either be horizontal or vertical.
      So try another terminal type. For example,

      set term pngcairo enhanced
      set output "rotate.png"
      set label 1 "rotate" at graph 0.5,0.5 rotate by 45
      plot x
      set output

      And this runs well on my linux system. Hope it also works for you.

  4. Yes, it works with pngcairo. Thanks!


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