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In IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics

A key challenge to visualization authoring is the process of getting familiar with the complex user interfaces of authoring tools. Natural Language Interface (NLI) presents promising benefits due to its learnability and usability. However, supporting NLIs for authoring tools requires expertise in natural language processing, while existing NLIs are mostly designed for visual analytic workflow. In this paper, we propose an authoring-oriented NLI pipeline by introducing a structured representation of users' visualization editing intents, called editing actions, based on a formative study and an extensive survey on visualization construction tools. The editing actions are executable, and thus decouple natural language interpretation and visualization applications as an intermediate layer. We implement a deep learning-based NL interpreter to translate NL utterances into editing actions. The interpreter is reusable and extensible across authoring tools. The authoring tools only need to map the editing actions into tool-specific operations. To illustrate the usages of the NL interpreter, we implement an Excel chart editor and a proof-of-concept authoring tool, VisTalk. We conduct a user study with VisTalk to understand the usage patterns of NL-based authoring systems. Finally, we discuss observations on how users author charts with natural language, as well as implications for future research.

Wang Yun, Hou Zhitao, Shen Leixian, Wu Tongshuang, Wang Jiaqi, Huang He, Zhang Haidong, Zhang Dongmei