VisiData is not necessarily the fastest at processing large amounts of data, but great care has been taken to make sure that it remains responsive. It is better to wait 10 seconds with active indication of progress, than 2 seconds with the program frozen and not accepting input (or worse; queueing up commands without ability to cancel).

To this end, VisiData has a main interface thread for display and input, and creates threads for any task that may be time-consuming. In fact, anything that iterates through all rows (there may be millions) or all columns (there may be thousands), should probably be in its own thread.


Use the @asyncthread decorator on a function to spawn a new thread for each call to that function. The return value is the spawned thread (which can often be ignored by the caller), and the return value of the original function is effectively lost.

Cells which are being computed in a separate thread will have the Thread object as their value until the result is available. [This will show the options.disp_pending cell note and allow the user to interact with the specific thread (via e.g. z Ctrl+Y or z Ctrl+C).]

Each thread is added to Sheet.currentThreads on the current sheet, and to vd.threads. Note that a thread spawned by calling a function on a different sheet will add the thread to the currentThreads for the topmost/current sheet instead.

class visidata.asyncthread(func)

Function decorator, to make calls to func() spawn a separate thread if available.


A list of all threads.


A list of all threads started from commands on this sheet.

visidata.vd.execAsync(func, *args, sheet=None, **kwargs)

Execute func(*args, **kwargs) in a separate thread.


Wait for one or more joiningThreads to finish. If no joiningThreads specified, wait for all but current thread and interface thread to finish.

visidata.vd.cancelThread(*threads, exception=<class 'visidata.EscapeException'>)

Raise exception in one or more threads.


vd.cancelThread(*threads) sends each thread an EscapeException, which percolates up the stack to be caught by the thread entry point. EscapeException inherits from Python’s BaseException instead of Exception, so that functions can still have catchall try-blocks with except Exception:, without catching explicit user cancellations.

An unqualified except: clause is bad practice (as always). When used in an async function, it will make the thread uncancelable.

Progress counters

To provide the progress meter in the right status bar, every function that could iterate over a large collection of objects (usually rows or columns) or loop a large number of times, should use an Progress object somewhere to track its progress.


Many internal functions will contribute their own Progress counters (including, so an async function may not need its own, but it can still be helpful to provide a more precise gerund to show to the user.

class visidata.vd.Progress(iterable=None, gerund='', total=None, sheet=None)

Maintain progress count as either an iterable wrapper, or a context manager.

  • iterable: wrapped iterable if used as an iterator.

  • gerund: status text shown while this Progress is active.

  • total: total count expected.

  • sheet: specific sheet to associate this progress with. Default is sheet from current thread.


Increase the progress count by n.

Progress as iterable

When iterating over a potentially large sequence:

for item in Progress(iterable, gerund='working'):

This is equivalent to for item in iterable. The gerund specifies the action being performed.

  • These Progress only display if used in another thread, and has no effect otherwise. So any iteration over rows and columns should have Progress, even if it is not @asyncthread.

  • Use Progress around the innermost iterations for maximum precision in the progress meter.

  • But this incurs a small amount of overhead, so if a tight loop needs every last optimization, use it with an outer iterator instead.

  • Multiple Progress objects used in parallel will stack properly.

  • Multiple Progress objects used serially will make the progress indicator reset (which is better than having no indicator at all).

If iterable does not know its own length, then pass the length or an approximation as the total keyword argument:

for item in Progress(iterable, gerund='working', total=approx_size):

Each iteration of the Progress object contributes 1 towards the total. To contribute a different amount, use Progress.addProgress(n) (n-1 if being used as an iterable, as 1 will be added automatically).

Progress as context manager

To manage Progress without wrapping an iterable, use it as a context manager with only a total keyword argument, and call addProgress as progress is made:

with Progress(gerund='working', total=amt) as prog:
    while amt > 0:
        some_amount = some_work()
        amt -= some_amount
  • Using Progress other than as an iterable or a context manager will have no effect.

Threads Sheet

The Threads Sheet is useful for analyzing the performance of long-running async commands.

All threads (active, aborted, and completed) are added to vd.threads, which can be viewed as the ThreadsSheet via Ctrl+T. Threads which take very little time (currently less than 10ms) are removed, to reduce clutter.

  • Press Ctrl+_ (toggle-profile) to toggle profiling of the main thread.

  • Press Enter (open-row) on a thread to view its performance profile (if options.profile was set when the thread started).


The performance profile sheet in VisiData is the output from pstats.Stats.print_stats().

  • z Ctrl+S on the performance profile will call dump_stats() and save the profile data to the given filename, for analysis with e.g. pyprof2calltree and kcachegrind.