Qualitative analysis software for
text, still images,
video, and audio data  
Developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Education Research  

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Transana is Open Source

Most people don't understand the concept of Free Software, or to be more accurate, they explicitly mis-understand the concept of Free Software. To quote the Free Software Definition, (http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html):

“Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer.”

WCER charges for Transana because that revenue covers some of the cost of developing and supporting the program. If people don't support Transana by purchasing it, then I will have to make my living on some other project, and Transana development and support will, practically speaking, cease.

Nobody is making money on this project. We don't fully cover the expense of my salary, let alone the cost of computers (I use 5 in the daily development of Transana!). Transana is too narrow and specific a program, filling too small a niche, to be profitable in the free market. But that doesn't mean it's not important, that it doesn't meet a very real need researchers have.

My goal has always been to enable complex analysis of complex data that weren't supported by the commercial products that do similar sorts of things. That's why I added multiple simltaneous users and multiple simultaneous transcripts and multiple simultaneous media files before thinking about adding text without media files. There are many other perfectly competent software packages that handle text files. There's nothing else out there that I know of that allows for the analysis described in the Woods & Dempster (2011) article Tales from the Bleeding Edge: The Qualitative Analysis of Complex Video Data Using Transana.

But Transana is free, as in free speech, because anyone who wants to can have the source code to study and to alter and hopefully to contribute back to the project for the benefit of everyone.

Transana is licensed under the GNU-GPL, which is a free (free speech, not free beer) software license that gives the program's users certain rights, among them to have access to the source code. That access to the source code, under the conditions of the GNU-GPL, is what makes Transana Open Source as well.

What does open source mean for you, as a Transana user or developer? In summary, it means the following:

  • You can get our source code.
  • You are free to modify our source code in any way you want, except as prohibited by the GNU-GPL. (For example, you must not remove the notice that the GNU-GPL applies to the program.)
  • We ask that you send us a copy of any changes you make so we can evaluate them for inclusion in the main Transana program. If you are not willing to share your work, then you shouldn't base your work on our work.
  • There is no warranty for our software or source code. If you choose to offer a warranty on anything you distribute that is derived from our source code, do so at your own risk.

Please see the GNU-GPL for more information and for the official legal language that applies to this program.

It is our goal to make Transana available as inexpensively as possible. To that end, we are using open-source development tools and open-source software components wherever possible. For example, we wrote Transana in Python, an open-source programming language. We chose MySQL, an open-source database program, for the database engine. Transana Development Issues

We are inviting interested parties to join in our development effort. Please feel free to contact the developers if you are interested or would like more information.