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Webvectors is a toolkit to serve distributional semantic models (particularly, continuous word embeddings, as in word2vec) over the web, making it easy to demonstrate models to general public. It is written in Python, and uses Flask and Gensim under the hood.

Working demos:

The service can be either integrated into Apache web server as a WSGI application or run as a standalone server using Gunicorn.

Brief installation instructions

  1. Clone WebVectors git repository (git clone into a directory acessible by your web server.
  2. Install Apache for Apache integration or Gunicorn for standalone server.
  3. Install all the Python requirements (pip install -r requirements.txt)
  4. If you want to use PoS tagging for user queries, install Stanford CoreNLP, Freeling or other PoS-tagger of your choice.
  5. Configure the files:

For Apache installation variant

Add the following line to Apache configuration file:

WSGIScriptAlias /WEBNAME "PATH/syn.wsgi", where WEBNAME is the alias for your service relative to the server root (webvectors for, and PATH is your filesystem path to the WebVectors directory.

For all installation variants

In all *.wsgi and *.py files in your WebVectors directory, replace webvectors.cfg in the string'webvectors.cfg') with the absolute path to the webvectors.cfg file.

Set up your service using the configuration file webvectors.cfg. Most important settings are:

  • `root` - absolute path to your _WebVectors_ directory (**NB: end it with a slash!**)
  • `temp` - absolute path to your temporary files directory
  • `font` - absolute path to a TTF font you want to use for plots (otherwise default system font will be used)
  • `lemmatize` - whether to use automatic lemmatization
  • `default_search` - URL of search engine to use on individual word pages (for example,


Models can use arbitrary tags assigned to words (for example, part-of-speech tags, as in boot_NOUN). If your models are trained on words with tags, you should switch this on in webvectors.cfg (use_tags variable). Then, WebVectors will allow users to limit their queries by tags. You also should specify the list of allowed tags (tags_list variable in webvectors.cfg) and the list of tags which will be shown to the user (tags.tsv file).

Models daemon

WebVectors uses a daemon, which runs in the background and actually processes all embedding tasks. It can also run on a different machine, if you want. Thus, in webvectors.cfg you should specify host and port that this daemon will listen at. After that, start It will load the models and open a listening socket. This script must run permanently, so you may want to launch it using screen or something like this.


The list of models you want to use is defined in the file models.tsv. It consists of tab-separated fields:

  • model identifier
  • model description
  • path to model
  • identifier of localized model name
  • is the model default or not
  • does the model contain PoS tags
  • training algorithm of the model (word2vec/fastText/etc)
  • size of the training corpus in words

Model identifier will be used as the name for checkboxes, and it is also important that in strings.csv the same identifier is used when denoting model names.

Models can currently be of 3 formats:

  • binary _word2vec_ models compressed with gzip (ends with `.bin.gz`);
  • Gensim format _word2vec_ models (ends with `.model`);
  • Gensim format _fastText_ models (ends with `.model`).

WebVectors will automatically detect models format and load all of them into memory. The users will be able to choose among loaded models.


WebVectors uses strings.csv file as the source of localized strings. It is a comma-separated file with 3 fields:

  • identifier
  • string in language 1
  • string in language 2

By default, language 1 is Russian and language 2 is English. This can be changed is webvectors.cfg.


Actual web pages shown to user are defined in the files templates/*.html. Tune them as you wish. The main menu is defined at base.html.

Query hints If you want query hints to work, do not forget to compile your own list of hints (JSON format). Example of such a list is given in data/example_vocab.json. Real URL of this list should be stated in data/hint.js.

Running WebVectors

Once you have modified all the settings according to your workflow, made sure the templates are OK for you and launched the models daemon, you are ready to actually start the service. If you use Apache integration, simply restart/reload Apache. If you prefer the standalone option, execute the following command in the root directory of the project:

gunicorn run_syn:app_syn -b address:port

where address is the address on which the service should be active (can be localhost), and port is, well, port to listen (for example, 9999).


In case of any problems, please feel free to contact us:

  • (Andrey Kutuzov)
  • (Elizaveta Kuzmenko)