Create/modify ontologies

Create a new ontology

Step 1: Create

To create a new ontology, go to Schema > Ontology and click the Create button. This will take you to a new modal where you can create a new ontology. You will need to provide the following:

  • Name: The name of your ontology. You can search by ontology name when setting up a new labeling project.

  • Object Features: Click the + button under Objects to add object features. By default, Labelbox will search for existing object features by name. If you type in a feature name that does not exist, Labelbox will prompt you to create a new object feature.

  • Tool Type: Click the + button under Classifications to add classification tasks. By default, Labelbox will search for existing classification features by name. If you type in a feature name that does not exist, Labelbox will prompt you to create a new classification feature.

Step 2: Attach

To attach or update the ontology for a project, go to the project Settings > Label editor and click Edit. This will take you to the ontology selection screen. Enter the ontology name in the search bar and Labelbox will return all ontologies with matching names.

Note: if you type in an ontology name that does not exist, you can create a new ontology.

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Ontology size limit

Users can add up to a maximum of 1,000 features (assuming no sub-classifications) per ontology. If you are a paying customer, you can request much higher limits. Please reach out to customer support.

Update / edit an ontology

Sometimes, you may want to update an existing ontology due to new project parameters or learnings. This is something that should not be done lightly as it will require you to re-work all existing annotations in order to make legacy annotations fit into the new ontology.

Reorder features

  1. Go to Schema > Ontology.
  2. Click on the ontology you want to edit. A new modal will appear on the right-hand side of the screen.
  3. Hit the Edit button at the top.
  4. In the new modal, drag and drop the features into the new order you want to display to your labelers.

Add a new feature

  1. Go to Schema > Ontology.
  2. Click on the ontology you want to edit. A new modal will pop up on the right-hand side of the screen.
  3. Click the Edit button at the top to edit the ontology.
  4. Click the + button under objects or classifications and search for the feature you want to add.

As a reminder, adding a new feature will not automatically trigger all your existing labels to be re-worked. You will need to manually re-enqueue those data rows.

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Adding new features to your ontology may make old labels invalid

Any labels submitted with the old ontology will still be available for you to use but may no longer be valid under the new ontology. For example, if you add a required classification task, only new labels will have that classification added.

Remove / archive features

Labelbox automatically detects if the feature has annotations created from it.

If a feature does not have annotations created from it, you can remove it from its ontology.

If a feature does have annotations created from it, you can archive it from its ontology. There are two benefits of archiving:

  • Keep a record of the feature and its associated annotations within a project.
  • Unarchive the Feature anytime. All pre-existing annotations created using that feature will render in the project.

To remove / archive a feature, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Schema > Ontology.
  2. Click on the ontology you want to edit and a new modal will pop up on the right-hand side of the screen.
  3. Click the Edit button at the top to edit the ontology.
  4. From this screen, select the feature you wish to remove.
  5. Click the settings button in the top right corner to remove or archive it from the ontology.

To unarchive a feature, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Schema > Ontology.
  2. Click on the ontology you want to edit and a new modal will pop up on the right-hand side of the screen.
  3. Click the Edit button at the top to edit the ontology.
  4. From this screen, select the archived feature you wish to unarchive.
  5. Click the settings button in the top right corner to unarchive the feature.

Re-use existing features (highly recommended)

You can re-use an existing feature when creating or updating a new ontology. The existing feature will auto-populate when you add a new feature in an ontology.

Create copy of an ontology

When creating or editing an existing ontology in the context of a project, navigate to the menu on the right of the ontology name and select Create copy. This will create and connect to the current project an exact copy of the source ontology that can be renamed and modified.

Adding or archiving features in the copied ontology will not impact the original ontology from which the copy was created. Modifications made to a specific feature, though, will cascade through all ontologies containing the feature, including the original ontology.

Copying an ontology is useful when you wish to build off of an existing ontology but want to avoid making unintended changes to projects utilizing the original ontology.

Delete unused ontologies and features

We recommend periodically cleaning up your unused ontologies or features. You can do this from the Schema tab by adjusting the filter to "Show: Unused". When this option is selected, you will see a new button to delete all unused features or ontologies.

Only do this if you do not intend to use those ontologies or features again. This cannot be undone!


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