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How to use NLTK in DSS

How to use NLTK in DSS

Greetings fellow Linguists,

You can start by installing NLTK (Natural Language Toolkit) as any other Python package in DSS, by creating a code environment and adding "nltk" to your package requirements. To do so, follow this documentation.

However, some functionalities of NLTK such as text corpora and language-specific models rely on resources which are not bundled in the library itself. The full list of available resources is available here.

To use these models, you need an additional download step. Typically, this can create issues on shared DSS nodes where users do not have write access to shared locations on the server (see User Isolation Framework).

1. Download NLTK Data for all users (recommended)

WARNING: this procedure needs command-line access and administrative privileges on the machine hosting DSS. You may need to speak to your DSS admin and/or Linux admin. Assuming you are on a Linux machine and have administrative privileges, run:
pip install nltk
sudo python -m nltk.downloader -d /usr/share/nltk_data all
For macOS, the path is slightly different: /usr/local/share/nltk_data.
To test that it worked correctly, run the following code in a notebook using your code environment with nltk.
from nltk.corpus import brown
For further details, please refer to this NLTK documentation.
2. Download NLTK Data for yourself
WARNING: This code will not work for other users if your DSS node is configured with the User Isolation Framework. Run this command without sudo, pointing to your Linux home directory:
python -m nltk.downloader -d /home/<yourLinuxUserName>/nltk_data all
In your Python code, you will then need to set the variable "NLTK_DATA" before running code requiring it.
import os
os.environ['NLTK_DATA'] = /home/<yourLinuxUserName/nltk_data
Happy natural language processing!

How can I download the NLTK Data if I install the 'nltk' package in a (Dataiku controlled) virtual environment? If I just use the 'sudo python -m ...' from the command-line, the nltk-package is not found.



The procedure highlighted above is indeed designed for use in Dataiku-managed code environment. The command you used is correct  (see NLTK doc). Have you checked that `python` is not pointing to Python 2? NLTK dropped its support of Python 2 recently.

If that does not work, we will need the full output of your command to diagnose.

Best regards,


Hi Alex,
the problem also occurs when I run the command (in a terminal) with python3; I get an error: (ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'nltk'). So, I think I need to run the command in the Dataiku code environment in which I installed the nltk. How can I do that? Should I just navigate in a terminal to the folder containing the code environment and run the command?


Thanks, that's clearer. You are just missing the nltk package in your main Python environment.

Can you try:

- pip install nltk

sudo python -m nltk.downloader -d /usr/local/share/nltk_data all

No need to navigate to the Dataiku code-env folder. It's a central installation, it should be picked up by the code-env automatically.

If that doesn't work, please send us the full output of the commands you executed.

Hi Alex,

I missed the installation of nltk in the main Python environment. That indeed solved the problem.

Many thanks.




No problem, I will add that to the original article for completeness.

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