1.5.27. Creating and applying tier sets

In some projects the number of tiers per transcription can amount to several dozens, depending on the number of phenomena that are studied, the number of levels of the analysis, the number of participants and/or the number of annotators contributing to the document. The space available for the Timeline Viewer is not large enough to display all tiers and even if it was, it would be very difficult to have a good overview of all tiers and to discern annotations and the tiers they belong to. The sections on how to show or hide tiers (see Section 1.5.23 and Section 1.5.25) demonstrate how to hide tiers from the view , either individually or as a group based on a common attribute (type, participant etc.). But even with the Show/Hide More option it can take several or many clicks to assemble a custom group of tiers to be visible. Moreover, after switching to a different set of tiers and then back again, the same selection steps have to be performed again.

To make switching between groups of tiers and combining groups of tiers easier and more reliable Tier Sets have been introduced. A Tier Set is a custom group of tiers that can combine tiers independent of hierarchical relations and independent of tier attributes (like Type or Participant etc.). A tier set is identified by a unique name by which the whole set can be made visible or hidden. The user can define multiple tier sets, the configuration of these sets is stored in a preference file. This file can be shared with colleagues so that they have the same setup available. Making a set visible in the Timeline Viewer also makes those tiers available in the tier list for e.g. the Grid Viewer, while hiding a set removes its tiers from that tier list. The main advantage of tier sets is in working with a corpus with consistent tier names.

A screencast is available on Vimeo to help you setting up a tierset: https://vimeo.com/183124013

The tier set feature has to be activated explicitly in the Preferences (see Preferences)or by clicking Tier Sets > Work with Tier Sets... in the context menu of the tier list in the timeline viewer.

Work with tier sets

Figure 1.108. Work with tier sets

A side-effect of activating this feature can namely be that no tiers are visible at all or that some tiers are missing after opening a file that adheres to a different tier naming convention. Therefore this should be used with care.

Tier sets can be managed via the menu Edit > Edit Tier Sets.... No document needs to be open for this, tier sets can be managed on the basis of files in a domain or a set of files selected from the file system.

Creating and editing tier sets

Figure 1.109. Creating and editing tier sets

The left side of the window shows the list of currently defined tier sets.

The right side of the window shows the attributes and contents of the set selected in the list of tier sets to the left.

The Apply button stores the tier sets and closes the window. By default the tier set configurations are stored in a file TierSet.xml in the ELAN data folder. This file can be shared with colleagues so that they have the same sets available.

Even if tier sets have been defined they cannot be applied immediately. As shown in the screenshot below the Tier Set is greyed out initially in the context menu of the tier name panel. This feature can be enabled in the Preferences tab of Edit > Preferences > Edit Preferences. After enabling it here the Tier Set menu will be enabled and the available sets are shown and can be selected or deselected. The choices made here also update the list of tiers that can be selected in e.g. the Grid Viewer.

The Tier Set context menu item before and after enabling tier sets in the preferences.

Figure 1.110. The Tier Set context menu item before and after enabling tier sets in the preferences.