1.8. Adding comments to .eaf files

This section will describe how to add comments to an annotation project. ELAN supports annotation and display of time-based resources such as audio and video with a referencing and note exchanging system. Persistent references to time slices and tiers are possible by making and exchanging comments referring to these. Different strategies for exchanging notes based on these links are available, allowing for collaboration among users. Among these are the DWAN server system ( https://tla.mpi.nl/tla-news/dasish-web-annotator/ http://dasish.eu, sharing of comment collections in files stored on shared directories (for instance using a cloud directory sharing service), or by exchanging single or multiple comments with their metadata via ordinary email messages. Downloading an eaf file from the IMDI-browser will also provide the user with the comments file.

A screencast is available on Vimeo explain the comments function: https://vimeo.com/126680719

Each eaf has a specific id and all comments regarding that eaf will be shown to you, when you are logged on to the server.

Comments-tab in ELAN

Figure 1.116. Comments-tab in ELAN


The Comments tab is devided in two panels; the left-hand side shows all comments associated with the .eaf file you are working on, the right-hand panel is used to enter your comments. Furthermore, there are six buttons which have different functions:

1.8.1. Comments setup and settings

To take full advantage of the comments-system, you will need to adjust some settings and register for an account. To register, follow these steps:

Comments settings dialog

Figure 1.117. Comments settings dialog


You can also fill out the other values (under 'Default comment field values') as you like. You can set your initials, and set a Thread ID. The Thread ID can be used to identify individual "conversations", if you want to use the comment system in that way. To do that, choose some meaningful short name for each separate conversation. Note that you can edit all these fields in each of your comments at any time. When done, click Apply to apply the changes.

Back in the main screen of ELAN, click Log In... to log in to the server. You will be prompted to enter your password. After logging in, the list of comments associated with the .eaf file you are working on will be displayed in the left-hand column.

User password dialog

Figure 1.118. User password dialog


1.8.1.1. Directories settings and update check settings

Apart from setting up an account for usage with the comments system, you also need to setup which folders the system will use when it performs a search, where your comment files and eaf-files are stored, and what folder to use as a shared folder. To do so, click Other... and select Settings from the drop-down menu. Next, set the folder options under 'Comments settings'.

Directory settings

Figure 1.119. Directory settings


  • Location of shared directory

    This can be a local folder, in which you can save your eaf and comment files. You can also point this to a Dropbox folder. This way, you can share the files via a cloud network.

  • Use shared directory for this transcription

    When a shared folder is set, you can check this option so your current comment file will be saved to this folder. The eaf file itself will be saved to a location of choice, not in this shared directory.

  • Search Comments in

    To search for comments, a folder needs to be set that holds the comments-files. Once set, the search will be recursive, so sub-folders containing comment-files will also be searched.

  • Search EAF files in

    The EAF files can be stored in a separate location from the comments files. When you search for comments and want to open the EAF file associated with that, the system needs to know where the EAF file is located. So it is advised to point this to the location where you normally store your EAF files.

Under 'Stored Comments', you can also set the update check time. This ranges from 2 minutes to over 50 minutes. The system will check the server every X minutes, to see if there are any changes made or added in the project you are working on. If a change was made, a warning will display with information regarding the change. It will also prompt you for an action.

Conflicting comments dialog

Figure 1.120. Conflicting comments dialog


  • Postpone will postpone the prompt to take action for now.

  • Keep local comment as new will keep the external comment and also save your local comment in place as a new comment.

  • Keep local version (and export it) will keep the local version and export it to the server.

  • Replace local version will replace the local version you have with the external comment.