This video gives a basic introduction to Snow Owl’s user interface. It will help you become familiar with the different visual components used in Snow Owl. The different sections of the default authoring perspective will be presented.

This is the first of two introductory videos to Snow Owl. You can find the subsequent video at:

Once you’ve seen the video, you can find additional documentation at:



This screencast is the first in a series of screencasts about Snow Owl which is software to author clinical terminologies. In this screencast I’d like to introduce you to the basic interface to help you get started with Snow Owl.

When you launch Snow Owl for the first time you will see this perspective, which is called the authoring perspective. It’s the default layout because it gives you access to most of the functions of Snow Owl, such as browsing, authoring, mapping, or creating reference sets.

As you can see, it consists of many sections, and I will take you through all of them. But before we start just a few things about the visual components that are used in Snow Owl.

There are views and there are editors. What you can see here are views. There is the SNOMED CT view, the ATC view, the ICD-10 view, the parents view the project explorer view or the reference sets view.

Here in this gray field this is where the editor will be launched. Views are basically lists or hierarchies of information so you can use them to find a concept, for instance here in the SNOMED CT view to navigate through a hierarchy or there are just lists that are displayed like this task list for instance.

You can open an editor very easily by just double-clicking on something. For the concept here that’s the editor. The editor displays information as well, more detailed information, but you can also use it to change information, to add a synonym for instance or to change the preferred term, add a description to a concept.

So this is where you actually will be working with the editor. Let me close this again. You can just close it by clicking the “X”. Let’s talk about the different views that we have in the authoring perspective. The SNOMED CT concept view shows the the concepts of the SNOMED CT terminology.

You can make it larger by just dragging this window down. There you can see all the top-level contents and each of them has pretty icons. I will be
talking about this a little bit more in one of the next videos.

You can browse down the terminology just by clicking on these triangles. It opens the children and if you click again, it closes them again. If you find a concept you’re interested in, you just double-click it and it will open the editor.

Let me show you the next one. The other terminology here is the ATC which is the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical classification system and it’s basically displayed the same as the SNOMED CT view. So it also has the hierarchy you can open and close it and just browse through the different concepts and then open them in the editor by double-clicking. And then you can close it again.

Then we have ICD-10 which is the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. ICD-10-AM, which is the Australian modification.

If you just click on these tabs it will always display the view. If you’d like to have a different one on the top, just grab the tab and just move it. Like this. You can also move it up if you want to but I’ll show you more about changing the layout of your interface in the next video.

Down here is the parents view. It shows you as it says the parents for a selected concept. The parents are displayed at the bottom of the tree structure which is inverse to the way they’re displayed in the concept views. So for instance if I have this concept here you see Clinical Finding is the parent and if you click you can go up the hierarchy and now we’re at the SNOMED CT concept, at the top level. We can go further down. Let me show you this. So here you can open the parents of the concept. So much about the different terminologies.

In the bottom section there are a bunch of tabs as well, and I’ll just go through them with you quickly. There’s the project explorer view. It basically works like a file folder that you know from your computer at home. It contains files that are used for querying, script projects, and other resources. You just open them like this as well.

The history view is quite interesting because it shows which changes were made to a concept. For the SNOMED CT concepts the history goes back to over ten years in time. If you double click on these tabs it will maximize the window and then you can see the whole history being displayed here. If you double-click again it goes back to where we started from. So double-clicking the tabs is very useful.

The search view doesn’t show any search results yet because we haven’t done a search yet.

The problems view displays errors, warnings, information messages about the concept for example validation errors resulting from classifying the ontology are displayed here.

The bookmarks view allows you to bookmark concepts to make it easier to find them again, just like the bookmarks in your internet browser. I’ve already bookmarked a few concepts that are displayed here. Let me show you how to bookmark one. You just go to one of the concepts and you right-click it and then there’s a little note that says “add bookmark” and you can enter a description which I’m not going to do now and then you see now your concept “bleeding” was added to the bookmarks and then you can find it easily again.

Commit information gives you information about the latest changes to the terminology including the person that made the change and a comment about the change, the person’s user ID, and here’s the commit comment and here is the date of the change so again if you double-click, it maximizes the window and if you double-click the tab again, it brings it back.

The last one is graph visualization. It shows the SNOMED CT concepts graphically.

So much about this part. Let’s go to the last section that’s still missing. I’m just going to close the editor for now.

This is the reference sets view. It lists all of the existing reference sets so you can browse through them. They’re grouped by their type, this is why we have a hierarchy here as well. It works the same as we’ve seen in the SNOMED CT view. If you double-click one, it opens the reference set and there will be a separate video about working with reference sets so I’m not going to go into further details just wanted to show it to you.

The last one is the task list. This is useful when you’re working in a team and do collaborative authoring then the tasks will be listed here.

There are a lot of different windows in the authoring perspective, a lot of different views. You might not need all of them and depending on what you’re doing you might just want to have a limited selection this is where you can customize your perspective so the layout of your workspace which I will show you in the next video or you can use one of our preset perspectives.

There are these buttons up here you can see there is a tooltip coming up whenever I hover over one of the icons. So what we did now is the authoring perspective and here is the reference set perspective. When I click this button, it will change so you only have the reference sets displayed and the editor on the right side so for instance if I want to open the “mental health” reference set, I have the editor view here and now I can make changes to the members of the reference set.

Or there is the mapping perspective which is useful for mapping SNOMED CT to other terminologies such as ICD-10. It displays SNOMED CT on one side and the ICD-10 view on the other side and in the middle is the reference set editor. I’ll show you what it looks like when you have a map just a simple map, so this is how it’s displayed and then that helps you when you do mapping. It’s basically your workspace.

If you want to go back to the authoring perspective, just click the owl button and it will bring you back to to the authoring perspective.

A few more words about the other icons in the toolbar. These icons are used -these four icon here- are used for creating reference sets or depending on what type of reference set you want to create a new simple type reference set or a new simple map type reference set you will use those.

These two that are in grey are used for saving and we haven’t made any changes yet, and this is why they haven’t changed their colours, so you cannot save anything.

These three are more for advanced users such as description logic classification of the ontology which will be the cup icon.

This one is for doing advanced searches. There will be a separate video about working with this. The results then will be displayed in this search view we had before. So if you do your search with this, you will have your results down here.

This one is also for advanced users. It’s about the concept model.

This text field here it is quite useful. It’s a lot like what you know from your Google search in the internet. You can type in a term and it brings the results up as you type. We’ll talk about this in a later video as well.

So much about this. That was just a brief introduction to our user interface so that you get to know all the different parts that are out there.

If you want to know more or you are looking for something specific, go to > Help and then > Help contents which will bring you to our user guide. There is a “Getting started” section that you can read through with six different chapters and also a very detailed “Snow Owl User Guide” that you can use if you’re looking for something specific. So much for now and as I said the next video is about changing the layout of your workspace and customizing your perspective.