Introduction to the SNOMED CT editor


The concept editor serves two basic functions:

The title of the editor shows the preferred term of a concept (here: Fruit flavor).

The concept editor displays information on a series of pages that can be selected by clicking the tabs in the bottom.

Concept editor

After making a change, an asterisk (*) will appear next to the editor's title, indicating that you have unsaved changes. Click on the Save button in the main toolbar to submit your changes to the repository. Before the changes are saved, a dialog will prompt you to enter a comment describing your change.

Editor with unsaved changes

The SNOMED CT concept editor can be opened from different parts of the application:

To close an editor, just click the x symbol. Alternatively, you can right-click the tab to perform the following actions: Close, Close Others or Close All.

If multiple concepts are open at the same time as in the example below, they appear as tabs, making it easy to switch from one to another. You can move tabs around to change the order by clicking and dragging.

If the space is too small to display all tabs, the >> symbol will indicate the number of hidden editor tabs (here: >>1 symbolizing one hidden editor tab). Clicking the symbol will display a drop-down box with the other open concepts editors to pick from.

Tabs allowing easy navigation between editors


Concept model supported editing

Snow Owl doesn't require you to add particular types of relationships or descriptions; you just need to enter the appropriate values. That's because all of the descriptions and properties that are appropriate to the selected concept appear automatically. These values come from a concept model, which can be customized for your particular organization.

Warning: The international version of Snow Owl ships with the IHTSDO's SNOMED CT Concept Model. However, this concept model is incomplete which means that many valid SNOMED CT concepts are reported as violating their own model. If you would like to contribute to improving the concept model, please join the IHTSDO Machine Readable Concept Model project group.

Because the concept model is incomplete, we indicate violations as warnings rather than errors. Once the IHTSDO concept model has been finalized, we will change this validation from a warning to an error. That's also why we allow entering descriptions and properties that are not permitted ("unsanctioned") by the current concept model.


The Add bookmark toggle button in the upper right corner of the editor: clicking the button will bookmark the concept, clicking it again will remove the bookmark from the concept. Bookmarked concepts can be viewed by activating the Bookmarks view.

Unsanctioned changes

The icons on the right side of the sections allow you make unsanctioned changes (i.e. changes that don't conform to the concept model). They perform the following actions:


Tip: If you hover the cursor over one of the descriptions a tooltip with additional details will be displayed. This feature is also available in the properties section.

Description tooltip

Error message display

Error, warning, and informational messages are displayed at the top of the concept editor. Clicking the hyperlink displays the messages, you can click on one of the messages to jump to this point in the concept editor.

Error message display

Unpublished changes

Unpublished changes are indicated by displaying a box around their entry. In the example below, the synonym "Hantavirus" is unpublished.

SNOMED CT concept editor displaying unpublished synonym

Once you create a version for publication, only the text appears, as below. For more information about versioning please refer to the chapter in the User Guide.

Concept editor displaying the published synonym