The Entity Mapper

In recent years data visualization is increasingly used to represent complex information and is mostly embedded in quantitative investigations. The research project presents a visualization tool, The Entity Mapper which is the first example to bridge the gap between the quantitative and qualitative field development in regards to data visualization and data representation. The Entity Mapper allows an instant visualization of complex and coded qualitative data. The visualization is based in Grounded Theory and allows an organization of complex qualitative datasets that have been coded using the program Atlas.ti. A visual representation of interviews, notes and research diaries through a simple online upload format is made possible with the Entity Mapper. The premiss of the visualization is to keep the qualitative nature of the analysis and to not simply quantify text datasets in visual representations of word counts, clouds and other graph statistics. The Entity Mapper illustrates an organic character of the data through an interactive network view of the relationship between unstructured data, quotes, codes and theoretical concepts (code families).

The ENTITY MAPPER is an open source web application for visualizing qualitative data as an interactive node-link diagram. By abstracting away the time-consuming process of constructing a visualization manually, the tool allows the researcher to focus on deriving insights from their data through an instant upload format. It features user authentication, dataset caching, and an integrated administration interface for dataset management.
Once data has been uploaded by a user, its appearance can be globally configured in a variety of ways. This includes setting the visibility of the various "entity types", specifying how their descendants appear (as linked nodes or "packed"), and assigning them a color. Additionally, users can control whether others see the datasets they've uploaded through a public/private visibility setting.
Currently, data upload support is limited to ATLAS.ti, however we hope to add support for additional qualitative data analysis programs in the future. Until that time, we hope support for the leading application in this domain gives the ENTITY MAPPER appeal to the qualitative analyst. ATLAS.ti's XML export can be used to export a project at anytime, and with this file new datasets can be easily added to the Entity Mapper (and existing ones updated).

In addition to global settings, the ENTITY MAPPER features a number of interface controls that can be used to configure the visualization in realtime, including:
Node size (radius) and label
Link/edge length
Entity type visibility

The ENTITY MAPPER features three distinct user roles. A user can view all public datasets, but cannot upload. This is the default for newly-created accounts. A contributor can view all public datasets as well as datasets they've uploaded, and can also upload data. An admin can view all public datasets and datasets they've uploaded, can upload data, and can also administer users.

ENTITY MAPPER is an open source project built with AngularJS, D3, and Bootstrap. Visit our GitHUB page to download the codebase and install your own version of the ENTITY MAPPER


Help type
Kinds of collaborators
Graduate students
IT staff
Help description
Please do not hesitant to ask for a demonstration of the tool.
Contact person
Help needed