Open Ethnographer Sneak Preview: Come and Test!

Following @danohu’s proposal, I just installed the partially done Open Ethnographer software “as it is” here on Everyone with “content manager” permission (esp. @Inga_Popovaite) and everyone with admin permissions can go ahead and test it out. Please carefully note both your first impressions and any bugs you find, since these are the best feedback for us developers.

Short instructions:

  • Just visit any node (that is, any post, wiki, event etc. when displayed on its own page). Select some text with the mouse, and a little "annotator button" will appear. Click it and add some annotation.
  • You can add both tags and comments. Your own existing tags are supplied via auto-completion. You add a new tag by just typing its name into an annotation – it is created on-the-fly.
  • There should be a sidebar, which is the only permanent Open Ethnographer user interface. Tell us what you want in it and if you want it at all, since we're not too sure about this part.
  • Later, to check what annotations you have created, go the annotation admin view (equivalent views for normal users are still in the making).
  • Basic exporting of your own annotations to RQDA should work too, just click here to download a RQDA file that is generated for you with your latest annotations. RQDA text offsets are probably buggy still. @Matthias is working on it still.

Please note: Use this version for test content only please. Annotations made before 2015-01-31 will be wiped / deleted once we do the real installation. This is necessary as data formats etc. may still change.

Update: For discussions about features and priorities (anything that is not already a well-defined task), put in a comment below or if you want to say a lot, create a post in this group. For bugs and other tasks though, please add them to our Github issue queue. (It may require you to sign up there, but it’s worth it since Github is now probably the largest free software development hub and you’ll learn a bit how to contribute.)

Mmh but where’s the sidebar …

I have included @danohu’s annotation_view sidebar code, but no sidebar is showing up. Maybe Dan knows the missing step I have to do (something with the theme?). We’ll figure it out today (Saturday), but you can already test around.

As for feedback: most helpful at this stage is helping us prioritize what to include in the 2015-01-31 release. Software is never finished anyway, so let’s determine what the essentials are that we must have now. Fine tuning and nice-to-have features will then follow later.

sidebar comes as its own annotator plugin, which needed to be enabled. I’ve turned it on.

However, a lot of major functionality is missing from the sidebar – e.g tags aren’t shown, you can’t edit or show annotations, etc, etc.

I’d particularly appreciate comments on how the sidebar <i>should</i> look and function.

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Sidebar discussion

Of course, it’s a plugin! Obviously I needed some sleep :smiley:

So, what to put into the sidebar. I’m not sure listing the annotations there is what we need at all, since the main page already contains the same information. Some initial Ideas that come to mind of what could be meaningful in the sidebar:

  • Export button. A button to export all own annotations. Together with a fields to select which groups to include (issue \#20) and an upload field to allow updating an existing RQDA file (issue \#19) this could be its own tab in the sidebar. The export button itself is for now just a link, so it's simple to include.
  • Choosing which tags to show. By default, annotations with any tag would be shown in the text (or maybe only with any own tag). In the sidebar, a user change this. There could be a list of own tags, and below it a list of others' public tags, each with a checkbox to show or hide the corresponding annotations. In both lists, tags that appear in the current text would come first and be printed in bold. But the list would contain all tags whatsoever, and the selection made here would apply to any node visited until changed in the sidebar again.
  • Forking tags. Forking a tag is a tag-level operation, so is best placed alongside the show/hide tag-level operation in its own column, rather than into individual annotations.
  • Collaboration tab. Strictly, both forking and this tab are about collaboration, but while forking is about "branching off", this tab would be about "raking in" others' additions and changes, incorporating them in ones own work where relevant. It could for example be a list of "annotations you have not seen", showing all new public annotations added by other researchers to nodes / comments oneself has also commented on, if created after one has last worked on the specific node or comment. The researcher can then walk through this list and mark items as "read", after acting on it for example by forking a newly created tag, adding an annotation with an existing or new own tag, adding a comment, or doing nothing at all.
  • Coding progress manager. One tab of the sidebar could contain an ethnographer's "to-do list": the nodes and comments she wants to code for the job at hand, and an overview of the nodes and comments she has coded already.
  • Quotation manager. When clicking a tag in an annotation bubble, the sidebar would open and show a list of nodes (and snippets for each) where the same tag is currently used. However, the sidebar might provide too little space for this. The currently planned for alternative is to use the Drupal taxonomy term pages for this purpose.

Update: Added the “Collaboration tab” idea.

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Thanks, Matt.

I agree about not needing the annotations in the sidebar.

It sounds like the sidebar becomes the main openethnographer interface, for everything beyond individual annotations. That makes sense to me.

I particularly like putting the quotation manager there. That means you go from looking at one annotation, to seeing all the other text tagged the same way, and can click through to open it up in the original node.

Not sure about the quotation manager …

I still doubt where to put the quotation manager feature … . The sidebar is a relatively narrow space with a single layer (means: no tabs, at least not yet). Having the quote snippets there sounds like cramming things in: reading larger amounts of text in a narrow column would not be a pleasant user experience. However, if researchers regularly and frequently switch between tagging and the quotation manager, I agree that the right place is the sidebar. We don’t know yet. @Inga_Popovaite, do you have an opinion for us?

The other case is if researchers occasionally switch to the quotation manager. Then, the Drupal taxonomy term pages are the natural candidate, and researchers would open them in a new tab, going there from linked tag names in annotation bubbles and the sidebar. The sidebar could then be the place to manage (not individual annotations, not sets of annotations, but:) tags. Like: always listing the 7 most recently used tags (incl. others’ tags after viewing them). The most recent one first. Each tag shown there can be edited right there. Which means: switching between public and private, changing the tag name, adding or changing the tag description, and of course, forking another user’s public tag.


Very well done, Matt! Looking forward…

No sidebar, otherwise very sleek

Nice and intuitive. I love the commenting facility, not “core” to ethnography but very useful. Do you need special permissions to use it, or can any registered user tag?


Yes one needs special permission to create, edit own, edit any and administer annotations, managed here. For this test, only admin and content manager users have these permissions. Note the “pen” edit icon in annotation bubbles: it is not there for annotations created by others.


RQDA allows comments (called “memos”) on codings, so we thought we just keep the commenting ability in.

(Exporting comments is not yet done. I just forgot until now.)

Exporting comments is done now. Plus bug fixes.

I just updated the Open Ethnographer version on the server to the latest one. It includes exporting comments to RQDA, a fix for duplicate tag name creation (issue #35), and a major rework of the RQDA export feature. The RQDA export should now work pretty ok, with annotation start and end positions being exported correctly etc…

To export a comment, create an annotation with a comment, and in RQDA, open your project, then your coded file (“Files” tab) and then right-click on the colored tag that belongs to your annotation.

Great work

This makes coding so much easier than with the previous html+tags editing view…

Color coding annotations per user/researcher also makes it look very elegant!

Well done guys!

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Don’t have user permissions yet?

Hey, it’s worth mentioning that anyone reading this post who wants to have a try at annotations can ask for a “content manager” role, I will happily assign them one.


Note to the testers

I had to delete all your testing annotations because a bugfix affects the reference point used for storing annotations (the “zero position” from which to count – should be the start of the body field text, but was not so far).

Please go ahead and add new testing annotations :slight_smile: Or alternatively, let us know your thoughts about what should go into the sidebar part of the user interface (see the discussion above).

Moving forward to our release

Based on our discussions above and our current state, here’s my proposal for what we need to get done still for our first release at the end of the month:

  • Dan implements a basic sidebar interface "from the ground up" as he proposed, and a tag manager in the sidebar. The exact functionality of the tag manager is still up for discussion, but probably would be: list of own tags and others' public tags; editing name and descriptions and other properties of a tag; switching the visibility of a tags annotations; ideally also merging tags resp. preparing the UI so this fits in later.
  • Matthias implements annotations for comments, which includes a rework of the data model (removing the URI column in the database's annotation table, and saving annotations relative to fields).
  • Matthias also adds an RQDA export button to the sidebar interface.
  • Whoever gets to this first also implements a quotation manager, based on taxonomy term pages (so, not in the sidebar!), and linked when tags are shown in the sidebar.
  • Ideally we would also get the tag forking / private tags feature. We can go into the first deployment without this though, as either Inga will be our only coder, or otherwise our coders won't mind codings being visible to other coders.
  • Refactoring code into a proper Drupal project and upstream contributions is done in the "release and documentation" phase, so not needed for our release end of the month.

What does everyone think (programmers and “clients”)? Meaningful and doable?

BTW, I just deployed here the latest little feature we have in Open Ethnographer: faster tagging using multi-substring search :slight_smile:

¡Not forgetting UI design!

Dan proposed to “properly design” the sidebar UI of Open Ethnographer. I like the idea, and we have the budget for it. Who was it again who was guiding us in LOTE4 through the Edgeryders UI rework? We could for example schedule a video call with him, Inga and the developers.

Great! But where?

As I told before I’m very excited about this feature development! But I don’t know where to test it? I think I’m missing some link, as an outsider and late comer to the discussions here. Can I also test drive? :wink:


Hi @gandhiano I added a content manager role to your user status, now if you select text in any site content you will see it highlighted and the option to annotate and add a comment to your tagging… try it out?

Love it!

Everything is easy and intuitive. And it exports nicely to RQDA for further analysis. Just a short note: is it possible to merge two different tags to a new one? I mean, it’s not a big problem, it can always be done off-line when needed.

Also, for some reason I can not see my annotations, just Matthias’ ones. (screenshot attached).

But overall, it is a briliant and user-friendly tool. Awesome job!

Thank you for the feedback, and glad you like it :slight_smile:

Forget the sidebar content though … your annotations would show there at the bottom, but the sidebar is not scrollable for some reason. This sidebar is just a UI sketch, the real one will contain a code manager (incl. your desired tag merging feature). There will also be quotation manager, linked from tags in annotations, which @danohu has just completed.

The sidebar and tag merging feature might follow a few days later (don’t know how far @danohu is with this). But I can provide tag merging at a different place in the UI right from the start taking note

For the coming testing, be sure to try our multi-substring auto-completion feature for rapid coding work :slight_smile: In essence, type a few characters each of the start of some words you remember to appear in your code name. Separate these character sequences by spaces each, and watch out for the auto-completion results. Like, if you had a code “Project: Save Vake Park”, you could type “proj park” or just “vak” to get your code.