WhatfettleOne CSV, thirty stories: 8. Heatmap meh

This is day 8 of One CSV, 30 stories a series of articles exploring price paid data from the Land Registry found on GOV.UK. The code for this and the other articles is available as open source from GitHub

Yesterday’s post was now four days ago and whilst I’ve a number of excuses for losing momentum, the main reason was trying to make this post interesting. I’d let wanting something great become the enemy of the probably good enough.

A few people suggested a heat map rather than a scatter plot might shed some light on prices. A heat map means grouping values over a time period as well as range of values. The gnuplot image plot takes XYZ values with rows separated by blank lines. For prices this means collating lines of date, price, counts as follows:

1995-01 0 0
1995-01 1 94
1995-01 2 244
1995-01 3 506
1995-02 0 0
1995-02 1 169
1995-02 2 493
1995-02 3 1007

We need something to turn the date, price pairs we created for the scatter plot If this was 1986 I’d use some APL :

20 5 3 ⍴ ⍳ 250

but APL is hard to find these days, harder to share with others, so here’s some logic in awk:

function print_prices(date, counts) {
    for (price= 0; price <= price_max; price++) {
        count = counts[price];
        if (!count) {
            count = 0;
        printf "%s %d %d\n", date, price, count;
    printf "\n";
    FS="	"
    price_unit = 1000000;
    price_max = 60;
    date = $1;
    sub("-[0-9][0-9]$", "", date);
    price = $2 / price_unit;
    if (date_last && date_last != date) {
        print_prices(date_last, counts);
        lines = 0;
        delete counts;
    date_last = date;
    if (lines) {
        print_prices(date_last, counts);

Which groups prices into month by £1 million squares, giving:

Price heatmap (£1M)

A complete picture, but a little flat. Drilling in again to prices £0-600k and experimenting with units going from £1k, £10k, £25k, £50k, £100k gives a range of charts:


I’ve been creating monochrome charts mostly because I like monochrome and good colour design is difficult, but colorbrewer exists to create heatmap palettes, which we can apply to gnuplot as follows:

 set palette defined (\
0 '#fff7ec',\
1 '#fee8c8',\
2 '#fdd49e',\
3 '#fdbb84',\
4 '#fc8d59',\
5 '#ef6548',\
6 '#d7301f',\
7 '#b30000',\
8 '#7f0000')
plot '/dev/stdin' using 1:2:3 with image

leading towards a more interesting version of the £10k banded price heatmap:

Priceheat (redrawn)

I need to pick up the pace if I’m to meet the 30 posts in 30 days, and think there’s at least a couple more things to say about prices tomorrow, which will hopefully actually happen tomorrow!