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Zenvisage: An Interactive and Expressive Visual Analytics System

Zenvisage is a visual data exploration system that can automatically identify and recommend visualizations that match desired user patterns. The user can specify at a high level what they are looking for either via interactions or via a query language (ZQL), and the system will perform the necessary computation to identify these visualizations.


The current version is 0.2, live at link.


Zenvisage enables users to effortlessly receive visualization recommendations for interesting trends, patterns, and insights from large datasets. Here are the key features of Zenvisage:

  • Zenvisage users can directly draw the trend-line they are looking for, and then rely on the system to find appropriate matches: for instance, a person browsing a dataset of material properties may be looking for those materials displaying a specific correlation between two given properties. Users can also drag-and-drop trends onto the canvas and then subsequently modify the trend. Using this interface, users can specify the insights they are looking for, and expect Zenvisage to find matches, much like a "visualization search engine".

  • Zenvisage supports a query language, called ZQL (pronounced "zee-quel"), short for Zenvisage Query Language, a flexible, powerful and intuitive mechanism to specify desired insights from visualizations. Using a small number of lines of ZQL, users can explore trends, patterns, and insights in any which way they desire.

  • In addition to returning results for user-submitted queries, zenvisage runs a host of parallel queries to find the most typical and outlier trends for the subset of data the user is currently viewing and presents them as additional context for the user.

  • Since Version 0.2, Zenvisage also supports pattern specification, equation specification, and zooming into specific areas of the search canvas. Here's a Medium blog post about our new features.

  • You can try out Zenvisage Version 0.2 at this link. You don't need to install anything for this!

Additional Readings

  • Our project webpage is here; regular updates will be posted at this webpage.
  • Our VLDB'17 paper describing ZQL, our SmartFuse1 ZQL optimizer, as well as a ZQL-centric user study is here.
  • Our CIDR'17 paper describing the overall Zenvisage system, along with some target user scenarios is here.
  • Our technical report describing the use of Zenvisage to address genomics, astrophysics, and battery science use-cases is here.

Required Software

You can try out Zenvisage Version 0.2 at this link without installing any software. You only need to install software if you'd like to run a local deployment.

  • Java Platform (JDK) >= 8; once installed, update JAVA_HOME to your installed java folder.
  • PostgreSQL >= 9.5; many ways to install this, including an app on Mac OSX.
  • Apache Maven 3.0.5; many ways to install this, including brew install maven on Mac OSX.

Installation Instructions

The installation of Zenvisage is straightforward, assuming Postgres, Java, and Maven are installed. If you want to install using a Docker container, the instructions are here.

  • Clone the zenvisage repository. (Alternatively, you can download the source as a zip.)

      git clone
  • Configure Postgres. First, you need to install PostgresSQL successfully. (A tutorial on installing PostgresSQL on Mac OSX can be found here.) Zenvisage uses the default username -- postgres. Users need to create a password zenvisage for the user postgres. Thus, zenvisage uses the following username and password:

        username: postgres
        password: zenvisage 

For making the above change, you could run the following commands:

        ALTER USER postgres WITH PASSWORD 'zenvisage';
  • Update Database Schema

          DROP schema public cascade; CREATE schema public; CREATE TABLE zenvisage_metafilelocation (database TEXT, metafilelocation TEXT, csvfilelocation TEXT); CREATE TABLE zenvisage_metatable (tablename TEXT, attribute TEXT, type TEXT, axis TEXT, min FLOAT, max FLOAT, selectedX BOOLEAN, selectedY BOOLEAN, selectedZ BOOLEAN); CREATE TABLE zenvisage_dynamic_classes (tablename TEXT, attribute TEXT, ranges TEXT);CREATE TABLE dynamic_class_aggregations (Table_Name TEXT NOT NULL, Tag TEXT NOT NULL, Attributes TEXT NOT NULL, Ranges TEXT NOT NULL, Count INT NOT NULL);CREATE TABLE users (id TEXT, password TEXT);CREATE TABLE users_tables (users TEXT, tables TEXT);INSERT INTO users_tables (users, tables) VALUES ('public', 'cmu'), ('public', 'flights'),('public', 'real_estate'),('public', 'weather'),('public', 'real_estate_tutorial');
  • Clean Postgres

          psql -d postgres -U postgres
          \connect postgres;
          DROP schema public cascade;
  • In Terminal:

          git pull --rebase origin v2.0
          sudo rm -f -r target/
          sudo rm nohup.out
          sudo kill $(sudo lsof -t -i:8080)  
  • Configuration

In file src/main/resources/

  • Build and deploy code. Inside the zenvisage folder,

         sudo sh
         sudo sh 
  • Launch http://localhost:8080/ (preferably in Chrome, if has error mostly because of uncleared cache, use incognito mode probably fix).

For uploading your datasets, you can follow the instructions explained here.

You can also refer to wiki for more details on the system. Some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are listed here.

1The smart-fuse optimization algorithms are not part of this release. Instead, we employ a simpler optimization scheme that works well for all but the most complex queries.