NL4DV: A Toolkit for Generating Analytic Specifications for Data Visualization from Natural Language Queries

Description: 

Natural language interfaces (NLIs) have shown great promise for visual data analysis, allowing people to flexibly specify and interact with visualizations. However, developing visualization NLIs remains a challenging task, requiring low-level implementation of natural language processing (NLP) techniques as well as knowledge of visual analytic tasks and visualization design. We present NL4DV, a toolkit for natural language-driven data visualization. NL4DV is a Python package that takes as input a tabular dataset and a natural language query about that dataset. In response, the toolkit returns an analytic specification modeled as a JSON object containing data attributes, analytic tasks, and a list of Vega-Lite specifications relevant to the input query. In doing so, NL4DV aids visualization developers who may not have a background in NLP, enabling them to create new visualization NLIs or incorporate natural language input within their existing systems. We demonstrate NL4DV’s usage and capabilities through four examples: 1) rendering visualizations using natural language in a Jupyter notebook, 2) developing a NLI to specify and edit Vega-Lite charts, 3) recreating data ambiguity widgets from the DataTone system, and 4) incorporating speech input to create a multimodal visualization system.

Authors: 
Arpit Narechania*
Arjun Srinivasan*
John Stasko
(*equal contribution)
Publication Date: 
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Publication Information: 
IEEE VIS 2020