Transana is a computer program that assists researchers in the qualitative analysis of large collections of text, still image, video, and audio data.
Transana was initially designed with the needs of researchers who work with video and audio data in mind. Working with media-based data is fundamentally different that working with text in a number of important ways. For example, researchers are much more likely to edit transcripts linked to media files than transcripts that have been disconnected from their underlying media files. Media files also have an underlying time line that text lacks, which can be exploited in interesting ways.
Transana offers several unique, powerful features for working with media data that other packages don't offer. For example, Transana allows you to work with multiple simultaneous video files, such as you might collect with multiple cameras in a classroom or with a camera and screen capture of someone playing a video game. Transana also allows you to display multiple simultaneous transcripts, allowing researchers to encapsulate different analytic views of their data in separate transcripts and to explore how they interact. Transana was also the first, by a full decade, to offer multiple users in different locations access to the same analytic data at the same time for collaborative analysis.
When we added the analysis of still images to Transana (in version 2.60), we put a lot of work into integrating that with the analysis of media files, including such features as video screen capture and optionally linking a coded still image with a particular location in a media file for context. Our tools for analyzing still images stand up well on their own, but gain extra power from the ways still images and media data interact.
Transana 3.00 adds support for the analysis of plain text data. While the analysis of text was a "solved problem" when we turned our attention to it (unlike the analysis of media when we started working on that), researchers were expressing the desire to be able to work with this type of data while taking advantage of Transana's superior media-data capabilities.
Transana supports several distinct but compatible modes of analysis.
- First, there's transcript-based analysis, such as Conversation Analysis. There are people using Transana to create
elaborate, detailed transcripts of media files that encapsulate their entire analysis. Transana explicitly supports Jeffersonian Notation, but many other
transcript-based annotation systems can also be used.
- Second, there's the creation and manipulation of Quotes, Clips and Snapshots. This is the electronic equivalent of cutting text documents into
analytically meaningful strips, pasted onto note cards, which are then sorted into thematic piles all over the living room. Transana
allows the researcher to easily re-situate the quotes, clips, and shapshots in their original context of the source text, image, video or audio file, which is sometimes essential to deep understanding of the data.
- Third, Transana supports applying coding to quotes, clips and still images, which can then be searched. Transana's reports enable researchers to explore their coded data textually and visually, exploring their coding patterns graphically. The Search tool allows researchers to explore relationships between codes further, while always remaining just a click or two away from their original text, image, or media data.
Education researchers often turn to video when they want to study interaction in the classroom. Video is an important tool for analyzing educational practices and tracking student outcomes. These researchers need tools that allow them to process and analyze the huge amount of data this represents. Transana is unique among qualitative analysis tools for a number of reasons:
- Transana fills a gap in the world of analytic software, enabling sophisticated analysis of media data. It enables types of analysis that cannot be performed with other software packages. Transana pioneered multiple simultaneous users (2002), multiple simultaneous transcripts (2008), and multiple simultaneous media files (2009), allowing for the analysis of extremely complex video data.
- Transana is cross-platform, allowing researchers to work with their preferred hardware.
- Transana is an Open Source research project. Transana's developer is eager to work with researchers to help them solve their analytic issues. Researchers can even download Transana's source code and adapt the software to their own special needs if necessary.
- Transana can be used by researchers in many diverse disciplines. Current areas of research include educational practices, the analysis and preservation of rare languages, and the analysis of animal behavior, to name a few. Transana is used all over the world by researchers from many different fields of study.
The earliest version of Transana was originally created by Chris Fassnacht. He passed it on to David K. Woods at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, who adapted it for its first release in 2001. Dr. Woods has continued maintaining the code and adding new features ever since.
Development of Transana has been supported by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the National Science Foundation through NPACI at the San Diego Supercomputing Center . In the past, we have also received funding from the Talkbank project at Carnegie-Mellon University and the Digital Insight project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Transana is now funded primarily through program sales and funded development projects.