How to use CSniper

The aim of this guide is to show most of CSniper’s functions and how to make use of them. When you visit you CSniper page, you are first greeted with a login screen. Supply your login data and proceed.


Choose any of these actions:

The last two items are only available to users with an administrator role.

Welcome page


This page offers constituent parsing of user-entered sentences. Simply enter a sentence, choose a parser (CSniper comes with the OpenNLP parser preconfigured), and click “Parse” - you’ll be presented with an image showing the parse tree.

Analysis page

This page is useful if you don’t want to do a full blown annotation query, but just check and run some superficial tests. You cannot annotate on this page, and results and queries will not be saved. To start a search, you have to choose a corpus and an engine, then enter a query in the engine’s syntax and click “Submit query”. You are then shown a table of results.

Search page

The two icons to the left of each entry provide additional insight into an item:

  • The magnifier icon opens an overlay window which contains the parse tree for the specific sentence.
  • The text icon opens a text box at the bottom of the table which shows the corpus context for the specific sentence.


This is the main component of CSniper. Here you can create a CQP query, usually based on POS tags, lemmas, word forms, depending on what is encoded in your corpus.

The workflow looks like this: first, choose a corpus to work on, and the type of phenomenon you want to search and create annotations for. You then will be shown the query box, where you can select the query engine (cqp or tgrep) and enter a query (and an optional comment).

After pressing Submit query you will be shown the results in keywords-in-context (KWIC) view. If the results don’t look appropriate to you, you can just enter a new query - otherwise, press Start annotation. This opens up a new column in the KWIC view, where you can label each sentence as containing the specific phenomenon or not.

Annotation page

Since annotating can take quite some time, there is also the option to use Rank results. This function re-orders the results, showing the ones first which are most probably Correct, i.e. instances of the phenomenon; they have to be confirmed manually. Since the ranking is learned from your annotations (and the annotations of your co-annotators), it can only be useful after annotating some instances. You can re-rank at any time, to refine the ordering.

Annotation page, automatic annotation

We also have implemented an experimental Find mode, which you can activate in a tab at the top of the query box. Here, you do not supply a query, but instead the ranking function tries to find instances from the corpus, based on the annotations you have made in previous sessions.

Other tab options are

  • Review - shows you the annotations you have alreay made for this type
  • Complete - show you the sentences which have been annotated by other annotators, but not you
  • Sample sets - description coming soon

Evaluation and Export

You can evaluate your annotation experiments, selecting different options to gain insight into inter-annotator-agreement or look at sentences which have been annotated differently by annotators.

Evaluation page

Select the corpus and phenomenon type to show agreement for, and also which annotators should be taken into account. You can select to show only sentences which have been labeled Correct by all chosen annotators, similar for Wrong, Disputed and Incomplete sentences. You can also set two thresholds, participation threshold and confidence threshold, both between 0 and 1:

  • participation: percentage of users who have to annotate an item as Correct or Wrong for it to be considered Correct, Wrong or Disputed. If less than the given percentage of users have voted either Correct and Wrong, an item is considered Incomplete.
  • confidence: percentage of annotations the majority vote has to have over the minority. If it is set to 0, only items with a tie between Correct and Wrong votes are considered Disputed. If this is set to 1, any item which has not been voted for unanimously, is considered Disputed.

These settings also influence what gets exported when you press the Export button; supported export file formats are HTML, CSV, and XLS.

You can also show statistics for queries by clicking on By Query.


On this page you can create new annotation types (i.e. name of a phenomenon to be annotated) or edit existing ones.

Each type has to be given a unique name, and you can also set annotation goals. A short but precise description is useful for your annotators, who can refer to this description when annotating. Show preview let’s you see how the description will be seen on the Assessment page (you can use Creole Wiki syntax here; find out more by clicking help in the navigation bar). You can also add custom columns which will be shown in the result table. They can be used by the annotators to leave notes or additional information. Don’t forget to save!

Settings page

Manage users

Here you cann add or delete users, and also set an initial password (or a new password should they have forgotten theirs). Because the name is a unique identifier, you can only set it once. You can also disable accounts, and assign roles. Each user has to have the ROLE_USER role, you may also assign ROLE_ADMIN, which gives this user access to the settings and users pages.

Manage Users page