Introduction to the annotation environment

An introduction to our annotating environment and the tools you will use to annotate.

If you have used graphical editing tools or other annotation tools, our annotating environment should be familiar. For newcomers or users that wonder where they can find a specific function, we put together this quick tour of the interface that explains in more general terms what different parts of the interface does and why they are there.

General layout

At the top of the interface, you can find the navigation bar. Here, you can navigate between images, access the project menu, and change the image’s status, as well as accessing various menus. To go to another image, click the arrows. To change the image status, click on the current image status to access a drop-down menu, in which you can specify a new status.

Toolbar

On the left side, you have the toolbar. This is where you can access all of the tools that you can use to annotate.

You use a tool by first clicking on it's icon. When it's selected (which you'll know as the tool icon will have a darker square around it) you can use the tool on your image. To learn more about the different tools you can hover over the icon for a second. When doing so, a tooltip will open giving you more information about a specific tool.

Label class list

On the right side, you have the label class list where you can select which label class to assign to objects as well as see which objects already have a specific label class.

The label class list is split up in two parts, foreground and background classes. Read more about when to use a foreground and when to use a background class here.

What's really important to understand here is the concept of "active class". As Hasty is a tool built for speed, we decided that we wanted to allow users to create many different annotations with the same class as quickly as possible. To that, when you select a specific class as an "active class" by clicking on the hedgehog icon to the left of class name, every new annotation being made will have that class assigned to it.

Set "active class" by clicking to the left of the label class color

However, "active class" just applies to new annotations. To edit the class of an existing annotation, first select it using the move/edit tool. The current class of the annotation will be highlighted in blue.

To change the class, click on the desired class in the class list - please note that you don't click on the hedgehog symbol as this will change the active class, and not edit the class of the selected annotation.

To edit the class of an annotation, click on the name of the desired label class

History list

You will also find the history list directly underneath the label class list. In the history list, you can see previous actions that you have performed when working on a specific image. You can also undo actions that you are not happy with here.

In the history list, new events are added to the bottom of the list. To change back to a previous state, just click on the event from which you want to roll back to. Please note that wherever you click in the list, all events that took place after this specific event will also be undone.

You can also undo your latest action by pressing "cmd/ctrl" + "z"

Tool settings bar

There are two parts of the interface that are not directly visible when you are opening a new project. First, we have the tool settings bar, that only will be shown after you have selected a tool. Here, you can modify how the tool works in various ways. For example, if you select the magic wand tool, you will see this menu at the top of the screen:

The tool settings bar for the magic wand-tool

Please note that any changes made in the tool settings bar require you to perform an action afterwards for the changes to take effect. For example, if you select an area using the magic wand, and then decide to increase the blur radius, this change will not be reflected until you make a new selection using the magic wand.

Secondly, we have the image gallery that can be accessed by clicking the arrow icon at the bottom of the screen. The image gallery is an easy to access view of all images in the project.

It can be accessed by pressing the two arrows pointing up at the bottom of the screen, and can be hidden by pressing the two arrows pointing down on top of it when it's open.

You can also filter the images being shown here by dataset and image status. Just go to the filter you want to adjust at the top right of the image gallery, click on it, and pick what filter should apply.

Furthermore, you can search on an image name by filling in the search field that can be found at the top right of the image gallery.

Every image has a colored frame around it that

Work area

That leaves us with the centre of the interface where you can see your image and perform actions on that image. We call this area the work area.

Introduction to our tools

In the current version of Hasty, we have 8 tools that you can find in the toolbar. Those are:

Move/Edit

With this tool, you can move or edit already existing objects. You also need to use it to relabel objects after they have been created.

Polygon

The polygon tool allows you to create more complex, polygon-based shaped objects.

This tool allows you to create bounding boxes, meaning simple rectangle-shaped objects. It also has a built-in smart assistant, pattern matching.

Contour

The contour finds potential objects in your image by looking for outlines of objects where the contrast is high. You can then easily convert these contours to objects by clicking on them.

The magic wand lets you select a selection area by finding similarly coloured pixels to the one you choose by clicking in the image.

Brush/Eraser

The Brush and the eraser tools are used to create (using the brush) and remove (using the eraser) masks or edit masks.

GrabCut

Interactively extract objects in the foreground from the background with the help of strokes. Useful for selecting and creating complex objects.

This AI-powered tool shows you potential bounding boxes in your image. Can only be used after users have labelled “enough” objects in a project. How long that takes depend on the use case and the complexity of a project. When active, you can turn potential bounding boxes into objects by clicking on them.

This AI-powered tool shows you potential polygons in your image. Can only be used after users have labelled “enough” objects in a project. How long that takes depend on the use case and the complexity of a project. When active, you can turn potential polygons into objects by clicking on them.

If you are interested in learning how to use our tools, we have created three tutorials:

  1. A basic tutorial that gives you an introduction to the tool.

  2. An advanced tutorial that dives deeper into how to use the tool more effectively as well as sharing some of the tips and tricks we have learnt when using Hasty internally.

  3. An AI assistant tutorial that explains how to use the AI tools that we built and how you can get the most out of them.