Getting started

Main window

The left panel is the file manager: by default, it displays the hierarchical structure of the project, but it can also display bookmarks associated with the current project. The right panel is the information panel, which is used to display and edit metadata about the file(s) currently selected. The bottom panel is the console, which can be used to type commands using Phonometrica’s scripting engine. Finally, the central part of the user interface is the viewer, which displays views such as the result of a query. Each view is displayed as a tab, in a similar fashion to web pages in a modern browser. The default view, the start view, displays a few buttons for the most common operations a user may want to perform.

Corpus management

Several functions from the File menu let the user important files into a project, either individually or by importing a folder recursively. The logical structure of a project is independent from the physical organization of the files on the user’s computer: once files have been added to a project, they can be moved around, merged into new folders or removed without affecting the files on disk. Phonometrica supports several annotation formats, including TextGrid (Praat) and LAB (WaveSurfer). It also supports a number of audio formats, including WAV, AIFF and FLAC (the exact number of supported formats depends on the platform). By default, Phonometrica will try to automatically bind an annotation and a sound file if they have the same base name but a different extension. If the names differ, it is possible to bind them manually, by right-clicking on them and choosing the corresponding option in the context menu, or semi-automatically using the Import metadata... feature from the file menu or using the scripting engine.

The hierarchical organization of a project is a matter of pure convenience to the user and is irrelevant for Phonometrica. Instead, the program relies on metadata to keep files organized internally and to perform queries. File names represent the most basic type of metadata and for small projects (containing a dozen of files or so) this may be all that is needed. When one needs to sort and organize a larger collection of files, Phonometrica offers a flexible mechanism called properties. A field is a typed key/value pair. Each file can be tagged with an arbitrary number of such properties: the key represents a category, which is always a text string, and the value may be either Boolean, textual or numeric. Typical examples of properties would be Speaker (where each unique speaker identifier represents a distinct value, for example 11ajp1) and Gender (with the values Male and Female). Properties can be managed via the field editor, available from the information panel when a file selection is active.

In addition to properties, each file can be annotated with a description, a free-form string which can used to store any kind of information, and which is also exposed to the search engine to filter files.

Import metadata

Phonometrica lets you import metadata from a CSV file, which is a tabular format according to which each line represents a row, and values in a row are separated by a separator character. When you click on Import metadata... in the File menu or in the metadata panel, a dialog opens up and asks you to choose a file as well as the separator character. We use the semicolon by default, since this is the separator used by Excel when it exports a spreadsheet to CSV. The file must have the following structure:

  • the first line must be a header: the first field is ignored, and the following fields correspond to property categories.
  • the first column must contain the name of file to which we want to add metadata, and the following properties are values for the corresponding categories. Cells can be left empty for files files which doesn’t have a certain property.

The cells in the first column represent file names, as they are normally displayed by your operating system. For instance, if you want to tag the file C:\Test\loc1f26.wav, i.e. a file named loc1f26.wav located in a directory named Test on the C: drive (on Windows), you should only provide loc1f26.wav as the file name. (Bear in mind that matching is case sensitive, so LOC1F26.WAV would not work in this case.) In addition, Phonometrica allows you to use regular expressions to define a file name pattern instead of an exact file name. To use a regular expression, the file name pattern must start with ^ (the metacharacter that indicates the beginning of a string) and end with $ (the metacharacter that indicates the end of a string). You can use any valid regular expression supported by Phonometrica, including capturing parentheses. You can refer to the whole matched pattern or to any subgroup in subsequent fields, using either %% or the placeholders %1 to %9, respectively.

By default, properties are assigned the type text. You can add the suffixes .bool, .num or .text to the category in the header line to indicate that the property is a Boolean, a number or a text string, respectively. In addition, there are two special fields for columns: %SOUND% and %DESCRIPTION%. %SOUND% allows you to provide the full path of a sound file for an annotation. If the sound file exists and the file is indeed an annotation, Phonometrica will bind the annotation to the sound; otherwise, the value will be dismissed. %DESCRIPTION% allows you to set the description field of a file.