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A set of commands to visualize and compare plot metrics in structured files (JSON, YAML, CSV, or TSV): show, diff, and modify.


usage: dvc plots [-h] [-q | -v] {show,diff,modify} ...

positional arguments:
    show         Generate plot from a metrics file.
    diff         Plot differences in metrics between commits.
    modify       Modify plot properties associated with a target file.

Types of metrics

DVC has two concepts for metrics, that represent different results of machine learning training or data processing:

  1. dvc metrics represent scalar numbers such as AUC, true positive rate, etc.
  2. dvc plots can be used to visualize data series such as AUC curves, loss functions, confusion matrices, etc.


DVC provides a set of commands to visualize certain metrics of machine learning experiments as plots. Usual plot examples are AUC curves, loss functions, confusion matrices, among others.

This type of metrics files are created by users, or generated by user data processing code, and can be defined in dvc.yaml (plots field) for tracking (optional).

DVC generates plots as HTML files that can be open with a web browser. These HTML files use Vega-Lite. Vega is a declarative grammar for defining plots using JSON. The plots can also be saved as SVG or PNG image filed from the browser.

In contrast to dvc metrics, these metrics should be stored as data series. Unlike its dvc metrics counterpart, dvc plots diff cannot calculate numeric differences between the metrics in different experiments.

Supported file formats

Plot metrics can be organized as data series in JSON, YAML 1.2, CSV, or TSV files. DVC expects to see an array (or multiple arrays) of objects (usually float numbers) in the file.

In tabular file formats such as CSV and TSV, each column is an array. dvc plots subcommands can produce plots for a specified column or a set of them. For example, epoch, AUC, and loss are the column names below:

epoch, AUC, loss
34, 0.91935, 0.0317345
35, 0.91913, 0.0317829
36, 0.92256, 0.0304632
37, 0.92302, 0.0299015

Hierarchical file formats such as JSON and YAML consists of an array of consistent objects (sharing a common structure): All objects should contain the fields used for the X and Y axis of the plot (see DVC template anchors); Extra elements will be ignored silently.

dvc plots subcommands can produce plots for a specified field or a set of them, from the array's objects. For example, val_loss is one of the field names in the train array below:

  "train": [
    {"val_accuracy": 0.9665, "val_loss": 0.10757},
    {"val_accuracy": 0.9764, "val_loss": 0.07324},
    {"val_accuracy": 0.8770, "val_loss": 0.08136},
    {"val_accuracy": 0.8740, "val_loss": 0.09026},
    {"val_accuracy": 0.8795, "val_loss": 0.07640},
    {"val_accuracy": 0.8803, "val_loss": 0.07608},
    {"val_accuracy": 0.8987, "val_loss": 0.08455}

Plot templates

Users have the ability to change the way plots are displayed by modifying the Vega specification, thus generating plots in the style that best fits the their needs. This keeps DVC projects programming language agnostic, as it's independent from user display configuration and visualization code.

Built-in plot templates are stored in the .dvc/plots/ directory. The default one is called default.json. It can be changed with the --template (-t) option of dvc plots show and dvc plots diff. For templates in the .dvc/plots/ directory, the path and the json extension are not required: you can specify only the base name e.g. --template scatter.

DVC has the following built-in plot templates:

  • default - linear plot
  • scatter - scatter plot
  • smooth - linear plot with LOESS smoothing, see example
  • confusion - confusion matrix, see example

Custom templates

Plot template files are Vega specification files that use predefined DVC anchors as placeholders for DVC to inject the plot values. You can create a custom template from scratch, or modify an existing one from .dvc/plots/.

๐Ÿ’ก Note that custom templates can be safely added to the template directory.

All metrics files given to dvc plots show and dvc plots diff as input are combined together into a single data array for injection into a template file. There are two important fields that DVC adds to the plot data:

  • index - zero-based counter for the data rows/values. In many cases it corresponds to a machine learning training epoch or step number.
  • rev - Git commit hash, tag, or branch of the metrics file. This helps distinguish between different versions when using the dvc plots diff command.

Note that in the case of CSV/TSV metrics files, column names from the table header (first row) are equivalent to field names.

DVC template anchors

  • <DVC_METRIC_DATA> (required) - the plot data from any type of metrics files is converted to a single JSON array internally, and injected instead of this anchor. Two additional fields will be added: index and rev (explained above).
  • <DVC_METRIC_TITLE> (optional) - a title for the plot, that can be defined with the --title option of the dvc plot subcommands.
  • <DVC_METRIC_X> (optional) - field name of the data for the X axis. It can be defined with the -x option of the dvc plot subcommands. The auto-generated index field (explained above) is the default.
  • <DVC_METRIC_Y> (optional) - field name of the data for the Y axis. It can be defined with the -y option of the dvc plot subcommands. It defaults to the last header of the metrics file: the last column for CSV/TSV, or the last field for JSON/YAML.
  • <DVC_METRIC_X_TITLE> (optional) - field name to display as the X axis label
  • <DVC_METRIC_Y_TITLE> (optional) - field name to display as the X axis label


  • -h, --help - prints the usage/help message, and exit.
  • -q, --quiet - do not write anything to standard output.
  • -v, --verbose - displays detailed tracing information.

Example: Tabular data

We'll use tabular metrics file logs.csv for this example:


Let's plot the last column (default behavior):

$ dvc plots show logs.csv

Difference in this metric between the current project version and the previous commit:

$ dvc plots diff -d logs.csv HEAD^

Visualize a specific field:

$ dvc plots show -y loss logs.csv

Example: Smooth plot

In some cases we would like to smooth our plot. In this example we will use a plot with 1000 data points:

$ dvc plots show data.csv

We can use the -t option and smooth template to make it less noisy:

$ dvc plots show -t smooth data.csv

Example: Confusion matrix

We'll use classes.csv for this example:


Let's visualize it:

$ dvc plots show classes.csv --template confusion -x actual -y predicted

A confusion matrix template is predefined in DVC (found in .dvc/plots/confusion.json).


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