Getting to know Snow Owl - First steps

Welcome to Snow Owl

When you use Snow Owl for the first time, the welcome page will be displayed. You can find a lot of useful links there:

Welcome page

Have you done enough Internet surfing and are ready to start using Snow Owl?

Close the screen by clicking the X in the upper left corner (indicated by an orange box in the screen shot), this will take you to Snow Owl.

If you want to bring up the Welcome page again when working with Snow Owl, just use Help > Welcome in the menu.

First glance at Snow Owl

When Snow Owl is launched for the first time, you will see the Authoring Perspective displayed in the screenshot below. It is comprised of six sections that provide different views and give access to a range of functionalities such as browsing, authoring, and creating reference sets. Some sections contain several views that are separated by tabs, they are called stacks.

The Authoring Perspective has the following initial layout:

Initial authoring perspective

1. Top left section

2. Middle left section

These views are sometimes referred to as concept navigators.

3. Bottom left section

4. Bottom section

5. Top right section

6. The top middle section is empty (in gray), this is where the editor will be launched.

The visual components: Perspectives, editors and views

Before we start working with Snow Owl, it is important to be familiar with the various elements of its user interface: views, editors, and perspectives.

A view is a visual component that is typically used to navigate a list or hierarchy of information (such as the SNOMED CT Concepts), or display information for the active editor.

An editor is also a visual component that is used to edit or browse a resource. The visual presentation might be a concept editor (e.g. terminology concepts or reference sets) or a text editor (e.g. scripts). Editors are launched by clicking on a resource in a view, e.g. by double-clicking a SNOMED CT concept.

Tip: It might be useful to display two (or more) editors side by side. This can be achieved by dragging the editor tab to any side of the editor section. A small black arrow will indicate where the new editor window will be docked (if a tab icon appears the icon the editors will be displayed behind each other). More detailed information and screenshots of the side by side display will be given in the Editor section of this guide.

A perspective is a combination of views and editors. It defines which visual components are displayed and their layout. The size and position of editors and views can be easily changed and is discussed below.

What comes with Snow Owl? A perspective for each task

Snow Owl provides several pre-set perspectives that can be used for different tasks (authoring, creating reference sets, mapping):

There are three ways of opening a perspective:

1. The fastest way is to click the corresponding icon on the top right toolbar.

2. There is also a toolbar icon that allows you to open a perspective: After clicking the icon, select Other... to open a pop-up window that displays the different perspective options.

3. It's also possible to select Window > Open Perspective > Other... from the menu bar to open the pop-up window with the different available perspectives.

Simple navigation: Changing the look of your Snow Owl user interface

Visual components such as views and editors can be arranged according to your individual preferences.

You can close a view or an editor by clicking the close (x) button in the tab or by right-clicking the tab and selecting Close. If you want to bring back a view, go to Window > Show view on the menu bar and chose the view you want to open from the drop down list.

Tip: If you want to close several editors at once select Close All, if you want to keep only the active editor select Close Others.

To move a view or editor, drag it by its title bar and move it without releasing the left mouse button. As you move the component, the mouse pointer changes to one of the drop cursors, e.g. an arrow or a stack. When it is in the location that you want, release the left mouse button. The drop cursor indicates where the component will be docked if you release the left mouse button. An arrow indicates that it will be docked as a separate component, a stack that it will be docked as a tab in the same pane. You can create a detached window by dragging the curser outside of the Snow Owl area.

Another way to move a view (or a stack) is the pop-up menu (right-click anywhere in the view's title bar). This menu will also provide shortcut options for turning a view into a detached view.

Views and editors can be minimized (use as little space as possible) or maximized (use as much space as possible) by clicking the dedicated icons on the stack's border. Another option is to select the Minimize or Maximize item on the context (right-click) menu for a stack.

Tip: The easiest way to maximize and restore is by double-clicking on a stack or by pressing Ctrl+M.

When you minimize a stack a small set of icons (a trim stack) will appear in the area at the edges of the window (the trim).

Stacks get minimized into a trim representation that contains the icons for each view (e.g. a icon for the ATC view) or a placeholder icon representing the entire editor area.

The trim stack also contains a restore icon for getting back to your original layout.

Tip: Clicking an icon in the trim stack temporarily displays the view, much like opening a drawer. Clicking the icon again will hide the view again (like closing the drawer). The view will also close when you click somewhere outside of the view. This can be useful when working on notebook computers with smaller displays, as you can open the views only as you need them.

Once you are ready to save your changes, select Window > Save Perspective As... from the main menu bar. Snow Owl will automatically add a Snow Owl icon to the top right toolbar, which will give you easy access to your saved perspective. Less speedy ways to open your saved perspective are the main menu bar ( Window > Open perspective > Other..) or the Open perspective (> Other) icon in the top right toolbar.

Warning: There is no delete function for a saved perspective. You can change an existing perspective by overwriting it with a newer version.

What else is out there? Icons in the main toolbar

Tooltips are very helpful for getting to know your user interface. A tooltip is a small graphical element that appears when moving the cursor over an item. Within Snow Owl many icons and several areas (e.g. SNOMED CT concepts, descriptions in the concept editor) have additional information that will be displayed this way. E.g. hovering over a concept will display its number of children, hovering over an icon in the tool bar will show you its functionality.

Description tooltip

The main tool bar has several icons that give you access to the main functions of Snow Owl. Starting from the left side to the right side it contains:

Icons related to creating reference sets (for more info see the reference sets section):

Icons related to saving:

Icons related to editing and authoring (for more info see see the editor section):

Icons related to other functions

Views and editors have icons to maximize or minimize its size. The help icon will open a help menu with the corresponding subchapter. More information about the other icons will be given in context of their use.