How To Pick Your Data Annotation Tool?

You’ve finished a large batch of raw data collection, and now you want to input that data into artificial intelligence (AI) systems so they can conduct human-like activities. The issue is that these machines can only operate based on the parameters you define for the data set. The approach for bridging the gap between sample data and AI/machine learning is data annotation.


A human data annotator enters into a raw data collection and generates categories, labels, and other descriptive components so that machines can interpret and act on the information.


Annotated raw data used in AI and machine learning usually made from numerical data and alphabetic text, but data annotation may also be implemented to photos and audio/visual elements.


What is Data Annotation?

The technique of tagging data available in various formats such as text, video, or photographs is known as data annotation. Labeled data sets are essential for supervised machine learning techniques so that the program can learn from the input values. 


And, to train your supervised machine learning models, data is carefully annotated with the appropriate tools and methodologies. And many forms of data annotation methods are used to build such data sets for such purposes. 


If you are a data scientist, especially if you are in university, most of the datasets you are working with (even those I am using on the website) are clean and annotated. In professional life, though, datasets may not be, and an actual person has to do it, which means that annotation is very costly. But, it is very needed in the industry.


What’s A Data Annotation Tool?

Data annotation tool means a software solution that highlights building training data for machine learning. It can be cloud-based, on-premises, or containerized. On the other hand, some firms prefer to build their tools. There are various open-source or shareware data annotation options available.


They are also commercially available for lease and purchase. Data annotation tools are usually designed for usage with certain forms of data, such as images, videos, text, audio, spreadsheets, or sensor data. They also provide many deployment strategies, such as on-premise, container, SaaS (cloud), and Kubernetes.


How to pick data annotation tool - key elements


Why Is Data Annotation Important?

Text And Internet Search:

By tagging ideas inside the text, ML models may learn to grasp what people are looking for — not just word for word, but also considering a person’s purpose.



Data annotation can enable chatbots to react effectively to queries, whether spoken or written.


Natural Language Processing (NLP):

NLP systems can learn to grasp a query’s context and create elegant replies.


Optical Character Recognition (OCR):

Data annotation enables data engineers to create training sets for OCR systems, detecting and converting handwritten characters, PDFs, photos, and words to text.


Language Translation:

Machine learning models can be taught to translate spoken or written words from one language to the other.


Autonomous Vehicles:

The advancement of self-driving car technology is a clear illustration of why it is critical to train ML systems to effectively detect pictures and evaluate situations.


Medical Images:

Data researchers are developing algorithms to identify cancer cells or other problems in X-ray, ultrasound, and other medical pictures.


If you train these systems – or any other ML system — with incorrectly labeled data, the outputs will be faulty, unreliable, and of no use to the user.


Benefits Of Data Annotation:

Data annotation is essential to supervised machine learning algorithms that train and forecast from data. Here are two of the essential benefits of this method:


Regarding End-User: Enhanced User Experience:

Applications driven by ML-based trained models assist in providing a better user experience and improving ML services for the end-users. Having annotated big data allow a lot of company to come up with revolutionary services every month. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are prime examples. The methodology enables these chatbots to respond to a user’s question with the most relevant details. Indeed, right now, I could fix most of my mobile phone inquiries by talking to a bot, which feels quite natural. If you want to know more about some exciting companies that innovatively use AI, follow me on Twitter. I share a lot anytime I stumble upon cool stuff related to AI.


Regarding Developer: Improved Precision:

Annotations improve output reliability by training your models with large datasets. The algorithm will learn various factors that will support the model in searching for relevant information. Generally, the mode data you have, the more precise your model is going to be. Adding more annotated data will allow your ML service to ingest more data, therefore increasing the precision of your results. 


5 Important Data Annotation Tool Features:

Annotation Tools are critical to the overall effectiveness of the annotation process. They help increase speed and production quality, but they also help enterprises with management and security.


1. Dataset Management:

Annotation starts and finishes with a complete method of managing the dataset you intend to annotate, an essential component of your workflow.


As a result, you must guarantee that the tool you are considering will import and handle the large volume of data and file formats you will need to label.


Since various tools preserve annotation output in many ways, you must ensure that the tool will fulfill your team’s output needs. Furthermore, you must verify support-file storage destinations because of the storing location of your data.


Another factor to consider while developing dataset management is the tool’s capacity to share and connect. Annotation, in particular, and AI data processing are sometimes done using offshore organizations, demanding rapid access and connectivity to the datasets. 


2. Annotation Methods:

The techniques and capabilities for applying labels to your data are known as the vital aspect of data annotation tools. You may want to focus on experts or go with a more comprehensive platform depending on your present and projected future demands.


Building and managing vocabularies or guidelines, such as label maps, classes, properties, and particular annotation categories, are typical annotation capabilities given by data annotation tools.


Furthermore, automation, or auto-labeling, is a new feature in many data annotation technologies. Many AI-powered solutions will help your annotators improve their labeling abilities or even automatically annotate your data without the need for human interference.


Some technologies can learn from your human annotators’ activities to increase auto-labeling reliability. A team of data labelers can decide whether to enlarge or eliminate a bounding box if you use pre-annotation to tag photos. Automating annotations can shorten the procedure for a team that needs it. Even with automated annotations, there will always be anomalies, edge situations, and errors. Therefore it is vital to incorporate a human-in-the-loop method for both quality control and exception management.


How to pick data annotation tool - methods


3. Data Quality Control:

The quality of your data determines the effectiveness of your machine learning and AI models. And, data annotation tools can assist with quality control (QC) and validation. Hopefully, the tool will include QC as part of the annotation process.


It is critical, for example, to provide real-time feedback and to initiate problem tracking during annotation. Furthermore, this can assist in workflow procedures such as labeling agreements. 


Many technologies will include a quality dashboard to assist managers in seeing and tracking quality concerns. Moreover, some annotation tools will have a feature assigning QC duties back to the main annotation team or a dedicated QC team.


4. Workforce Management:

Every data annotation tool, even those that lead with an AI-based automation capability, is designed to be used by a human workforce. As previously stated, people still required to handle exceptions and quality assurance.


As a result, leading systems will include employee management features such as job assignment and performance statistics that track the amount of time spent on each task or sub-task.


5. Security:

You want to ensure the security of your data when annotating delicate personal information or your valuable intellectual property. Tools should restrict an annotator’s access to data that has not been assigned to her and restrict data downloads. A data annotation tool may provide secure file access based on its installation, whether in the cloud or on-premise.


Choosing an annotation tool appears to be a simple job, maybe because there are many options on the market. However, no matter how many annotation tools are available, your company still increases the chances of selecting the wrong one. To avoid this, you must understand the principles of choosing the correct annotation tool, and how said tool affects security, HR management, data quality control, annotation methodologies, and dataset administration.


How To Choose The Right Data Annotation Tool?

The following are the criteria for selecting the best data annotation tool:



Deep learning programmers now have a variety of photos at their disposal. Because annotations are inherently manual, picture labeling may consume a significant amount of time and resources. 


Look for tools that make manual annotating as quick as possible. Things include a user interface (UI) that is easy to use, hotkey support and other capabilities that save time and increase annotation quality.



Labels might vary based on the job at hand. In classification, for example, it requires a single label that unambiguously specifies a class for a given image.


Detecting objects is a more complex problem in computer vision. In terms of annotations, each object requires a class name as well as a set of coordinates for a bounding box that specifies where a specific item is positioning inside an image. A class name and a pixel-level mask containing an outline of an item required for semantic segmentation.


So, based on the issue you’re working on, you should have an annotation tool that contains all of the features you want. As a general rule, having a tool that can annotate images is beneficial for all computer vision activities.


How to pick data annotation tool - functionality



COCO JSONs, Pascal VOC XMLs, TFRecords, text files (CSV, txt), picture masks, and many other formats are available for annotations. Although we can always translate annotations from one structure to the other, having a tool that can directly produce annotations in your desired format is a terrific approach to streamline your data preparation routine and save time.



Do you need a web-based annotation app? Perhaps you work offline on occasion but still want annotations and would prefer a window app that can be used both online and offline? In the context of your project, these may be critical questions.


Some technologies handle both desktop applications and web-based applications. Others may be web-only, in which case you won’t be able to use them except in a web browser window. Keep this in mind when you search for an annotation tool.



Price is always an issue. According to my personal experience, most engineers in small/medium-sized teams search for free tools, on which this article focused.


We’ll also look at paid options to see whether they’re worth it for a fair comparison. We’ll look at the situations in which paid solutions make sense and truly bring value.


Price of data annotation tools


Top 10 Data Annotation Tools

(Here are my favourite Data annotation tools)

1. VGG Image Annotator:

It is free to use because it is an open-source platform, and it, like LabelIMG, can execute simple jobs without project management quickly. It is the only platform among several that allows you to annotate images with circles and ellipses, as well as other polygons, dots, and lines. Although it does not offer complex administration, its interface is extremely quick and precise.


VGG Image Annotator



This web-based platform is an excellent annotation tool with a library of deep learning models that you can develop and test right away. Although it is a public and free tool, it does have a paid enterprise plan. 


You can also use it to create holes in polygons using several tools, and it allows you to arrange your figures in a layered fashion, which is a really useful function.


It offers image formats such as Cityscapes and COCO, as well as the choice of a direct transition to the platform. It supports project management for groups, datasets, and workplaces, however, it lacks time statistics and quality control tools.





3. Beaverdam:

This application is unique because it focuses on video annotations and is widely used by engineers all around the world. It functions remotely as a Python Django server and integrates easily with mturk. 


It has a lot of capabilities and you can do a lot with its annotations, but the only disadvantage is that you need some previous knowledge or skill in it and must learn how to use the tool most effectively.




4. Diffgram:

Diffgram allows teams to process large amounts of datasets, such as photos, movies, and so on, all at once. It allows you to effortlessly establish processes and track progress, as well as automatically allocate jobs and save time. 


It also generates versions that are immediately web-ready, allowing annotators to readily access them, and it is cloud-compatible. Diffgram offers multiple pricing tiers, with Explorer being free, Teams having a cost per user payment, and Enterprise charging based on corporate needs.




5. Prodigy:

Prodigy is a very efficient and scriptable data annotation tool that can educate an AI model in a matter of hours. It collects data faster, takes a more autonomous approach, and is acknowledged to have a greater success rate than other technologies.


You may simply obtain cutting-edge ideas and user experiences regarding machine learning, which is incredibly powerful and employs current UX standards. Prodigy offers two price options: Personal ($390) and Company ($490).


data annotation tool -Prodigy


6. Dataturks:

Dataturks enables you to effortlessly cooperate across teams to create high-level machine learning datasets in a short amount of time and annotate them as rapidly as possible. 


It provides a frequent tracking and improving function for producing higher-quality material for your models, and its return on investment has been pretty good in recent years.




7. Computer Vision Annotation Tool (CVAT):

Intel created the computer vision annotation tool (CVAT). The program is a replica of OpenCV, which was launched by the tech giant two decades ago. CVAT has robust and cutting-edge annotation features, as one would expect from Intel software.


And, while being familiar with all of the software’s features and functions may take time, it is well worth the effort to become comfortable with the platform’s variety of annotation options.


As a web app, the program is simple to deploy and grow, and it includes a variety of automation tools such as TensorFlow, Object Detection API, automated annotation, and others. The tool’s primary drawback is its complex user interface, which may take many days to establish.


Computer Vision Annotation Tool (CVAT)


8. Visual Object Tagging Tools:

Another useful image annotation tool is Visual Object Tagging Tools. The program, developed by Microsoft, includes an engaging and straightforward design, making it easier for users to understand the tool’s different operations and capabilities.


Furthermore, the tool makes it simple for users to start a project without having to go into the document details. VoTT is developed in React Language with clean code; also, the usage of deep learning techniques allows for speedy and accurate object identification. VoTT is accessible as both a web app and an electron app.


data annotation tool -Visual Object Tagging Tools


9. Make-Sense:

Make-Sense is a novice to the world of visual annotation, introduced a year ago. Indeed, Make-Sense, like VoTT, has a very user-friendly UX, making it easy for users to get started right away. If you are a complete novice seeking a head start in the visual annotation sector, Make-Sense is the tool for you.


All you have to do is go to the website and drag – and – drop the photographs you want to annotate, and you’ve done. What’s particularly great is that the program doesn’t keep photographs, so you can be confident that your data is secure.




10. Anno-Mage:

Anno-Mage is a modern annotation tool that includes an object-detection model called “RetinaNet.” The tool is designed to provide users with simple access to all tools through a simple interface. The tool’s “RetinaNet” architecture provides users with up to 80 object classes, reducing the amount of human effort necessary to annotate the photos.





Final Words:

We discussed what data annotation or labeling is and what benefits it provides. In addition, we have included the best tools for labeling photographs. The act of labeling words, photos, and other things assists ML-based algorithms in improving output accuracy and providing the best user experience.


A trusted and experienced machine learning organization understands how to use these data annotations to serve the objective for which an ML algorithm is designed. You may contact a company like this or engage ML developers to create an ML-based application for your startup or corporation.


If you made this far in the article, thank you very much.


I hope this information was of use to you. 

Feel free to use any information from this page. I’d appreciate it if you can simply link to this article as the source. If you have any additional questions, you can reach out to  or message me on Twitter. If you want more content like this, join my email list to receive the latest articles. I promise I do not spam. 




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