AlignTool

I repackaged AlignTool as a virtual machine (VM) based on Xubuntu 18.04 LTS. I made this VM as a replacement for the one by the original authors, as it was both somewhat limited and the source code was outdated. This VM works as of fall 2019, but please let me know if it needs updating.

  • Download my VM and import it as an appliance in Oracle VM VirtualBox.
  • During importing use the settings that are contained within the .ova, as these are the minimal specifications I recommend, but adapt to your local machine if necessary.
  • The VM is essentially an up to date version of Xubuntu 18.04 LTS (as of fall 2019) with the source code of AlignTool on it. In order to make using AlignTool simpler, I rely on storing everything in a shared folder between your host machine and the VM.
  • IMPORTANT: before booting the VM the first time, be sure to set the shared folder settings for your local machine. You can do so in your VirtualBox Manager: from the menu select Machine > Settings… and then go to Shared Folders. Double click the shared folder and change only the Folder Path to the folder you want to use as shared storage between the VM and your host machine.

In a previous version I provided the files inside the VM itself, but it proved inefficient when I want to update it. Instead everything except for AlignTool itself is now stored in the shared folder. Follow the steps below and you should be good to go.

  • Download this zip file from my server. It contains a folder ‘AlignToolData’ that you need to extract and put inside your shared folder. It contains the following files and folders.
    • AlignTool documentation.pdf: This pdf document is the original documentation for AlignTool. It is recommended to go through at least the Appendices in order to get a feel of what parameter settings are possible, but I wrote a shorter guide focusing more on the basic use of the tool itself (see below).
    • AlignTool short guide.txt: The aforementioned shorter guide containing relatively short step for step instructions on how to go through the process of using AlignTool for your experimental data. Please let me know if it is unclear as it is still a somewhat rough sketch of the process.
    • recordings: A folder that you can use to put in your recordings. I suggest structuring this folder neatly, e.g. by simply creating sub-folders for each participant inside this folder.
    • scripts: A folder containing scripts for preparing the recordings. It is possible to do these file preparations manually in audio editing programs such as Audacity, but it will take considerably longer and more tinkering.
    • workdir: A working directory which contains the relevant folders mentioned in the guide as well as the workbook. It contains these files and folders:
      • markersignal.wav: This is the signal that marks the beginning and ending of trials. It is used in the file preparation step and is therefore also in the scripts folder.
      • workbook.xlsx: This Excel sheet contains all the relevant information for AlignTool to work with and you set all the parameters in here. Any segmental output created by AlignTool is also added to this sheet.
      • wav: This folder contains the .wav files that will be analyzed by AlignTool.
      • workbook.tg: This folder contains any TextGrids that are produced by AlignTool.
    • workdir_backup: A backup of the working directory. This is mostly useful for starting the process over. You can just delete everything inside workdir and copy all the files from workdir_backup into workdir afterwards in order to start with a clean slate.

I suggest opening the short guide in the shared folder inside the VM itself, but keeping all other file operations, such as editing the workbook and moving audio files, on your host machine. This seems like an optimal workflow, although your mileage may vary.