What’s the Path of Your Data?

Introducing Path Charts (and how to create them!)

Joseph (Geolic)
Published in
11 min readOct 3, 2019


In my last post, I challenged bar charts by introducing the snail chart. Though being more of a fun example, it made me think about how I could dig deeper and create an alternative for the other most common graph type in town, the line chart.

We all know them. Line charts are the traditional choice for displaying trends in datasets, with a (time) interval on the x-axis and some continuous data on the y-axis. They appear in yearly reports showing revenue changes in a company. They show predictions for the global temperature change to help us understand what challenges humankind faces.

But what happens if you want to get a feeling about a trend of ordinal data? Let’s take a look at this based on a sample case.

Sample Case: Amazon Review Data

Let’s assume you are an author who published the rather nonfamous book How to Avoid Huge Ships:

“How to Avoid Huge Ships” — by Captain John W. Trimmer

Over ten years have passed since publishing this book, and once again the time of year arrived where you take the routine check of your sales statistics on Amazon. And to your great surprise, you noticed that all of a sudden your sales went through the roof recently. Now you really want to find out why! So you are checking all possibilities:

  • Are there more huge ships to avoid these days?
  • Is climate change evolving faster than you thought and everybody needs boats now?
  • Or does it have something to do with the reviews on Amazon?

After extensive research, you figured out that it may have something to do with those reviews. So you write a script (well, you are a writer, right?) to extract the review data of your book. But it is all numbers … You need to visualize it!

Visualizing Your Data

Now, you could go with a line chart, the most common way of showing a trend, to find any anomalies in recent times. But … Nah! … You are creative! Line charts are for anybody else! So let’s see what…



Joseph (Geolic)

A freelance DataViz expert and GIS engineer. Life Goal: Riding bicycle from Berlin (Germany) to Busan (Korea).