MobileVisFixer: tailoring web visualizations for mobile phones leveraging an explainable reinforcement learning framework

Aoyu Wu, Wai Tong, Tim Dwyer, Bongshin Lee, Petra Isenberg, Huamin Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


We contribute MobileVisFixer, a new method to make visualizations more mobile-friendly. Although mobile devices have become the primary means of accessing information on the web, many existing visualizations are not optimized for small screens and can lead to a frustrating user experience. Currently, practitioners and researchers have to engage in a tedious and time-consuming process to ensure that their designs scale to screens of different sizes, and existing toolkits and libraries provide little support in diagnosing and repairing issues. To address this challenge, MobileVisFixer automates a mobile-friendly visualization re-design process with a novel reinforcement learning framework. To inform the design of MobileVisFixer, we first collected and analyzed SVG-based visualizations on the web, and identified five common mobile-friendly issues. MobileVisFixer addresses four of these issues on single-view Cartesian visualizations with linear or discrete scales by a Markov Decision Process model that is both generalizable across various visualizations and fully explainable. MobileVisFixer deconstructs charts into declarative formats, and uses a greedy heuristic based on Policy Gradient methods to find solutions to this difficult, multi-criteria optimization problem in reasonable time. In addition, MobileVisFixer can be easily extended with the incorporation of optimization algorithms for data visualizations. Quantitative evaluation on two real-world datasets demonstrates the effectiveness and generalizability of our method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-474
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Machine learning for visualizations
  • Mobile visualization
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Responsive visualization

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