Frequently asked questions about JWatcher

Last updated 20 Jan 06


Q: What is JWatcher?
A: JWatcher is an event-recording program written in Java, a computer language developed by Sun Microsystems that runs in both the Windows and Macintosh (and UNIX and LINUX) operating environments.

Q: What is an event recorder?
A: Event recorders are tools to help quantify behaviour. By logging key presses that signify the onset or occurrence of behaviours, event recorders allow you to estimate the time animals or people allocate to different activities. To learn more about quantifying behaviour, read the outstanding book Observing Behaviour (now in it's second edition) by Paul Martin and Pat Bateson (Cambridge University Press).

Q: How much does JWatcher cost?
A: JWatcher is free to use. Please tell others about it and use it in your laboratories and classes. To ensure you're using the correct version, download it directly from the JWatcher web site. JWatcher comes with no warranties expressed or implied.

Q: Who developed JWatcher 0.9?
A: JWatcher 0.9 was developed by Dan Blumstein, Chris Evans and Janice Daniel at the Animal Behaviour Laboratory at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. First stage development was supported by a grant from Macquarie, and coding was done by Fiona Walkerden, Xuhong Li and Derek Renouf of Adaptive Arts Pty Ltd, a company that develops data mining and database management tools in Java.

Q: Who developed JWatcher 1.0?

A: JWatcher 1.0 was developed by Dan Blumstein, Janice Daniel and Chris Evans, with coding by Nada and Jose da Viega of Convolution, LLC, a design firm with extensive Java development experience. It was supported by a grant from the US National Insititute of Mental Health.

Q: What operating system does JWatcher require?
A: JWatcher 0.9 was developed in a Windows (98/NT) environment and tested extensively using both Windows (95/98/NT) and the Mac OS (System 8.5, 8.6 and 9.0). It should run on any computer that can run the Java Virtual Machine (also called the Apple Applet Runner in the Mac OS). It was developed to work on the Windows Java Runtime Environment 1.1.8 and the Mac OS Runtime For Java version 2.2.3. Needless to say, it runs faster and more smoothly on newer machines with a lot of RAM.

A: JWatcher 1.0 was developed for the Windows XP and Macintosh OS-X operating systems. When released in January 2006, it was fully compatible with the J2E runtime environment.

Q: I can score behaviour but JWatcher freezes when I try to analyse it. What's happening?
A: You should use JWatcher's analysis routines on a computer with more RAM. Data Capture works well with limited RAM but analysing or combining keycodes work better with more RAM.

Q: How do I open/print a results file?
A: Results files (.res) are comma delimited text files. They can be opened within any word processing or spreadsheet programs.

Q: JWatcher does not redraw the screen properly and suddenly begins behaving badly. Why?
A: You may have too many applications open. Quitting JWatcher and closing un-used applications may solve this problem.

Q: How can I print my .faf to verify what it does?
A: In Focal Analysis Master, click on the [Summary] button, select all of the contents of the summary file using a mouse, and then copy (control + c) and paste the contents into a word processor.

Q: Why do I have to specify the path where I want files to be stored every time I restart JWatcher?
A: JWatcher does not create a preference file. Thus, the default location where files are created and stored is the folder where the application resides. When we use JWatcher, we store the application in the default installation location (in the applications folder), and create a folder elsewhere where we store JWatcher files. Each time we restart Jwatcher, we have to navigate over to that folder. Within a session, however, JWatcher remembers the last location used.

Q: How can I print my data files?
A: Data files (.dat) are comma delimited text files. They can be opened within any word processing or spreadsheet programs.

Q: How do I edit a pre-existing data file?
A: Use the Edit data function built into JWatcher, or edit using a word processor or spreadsheet program.

Q: If I analyse the same data file using first one and then another focal analysis master file, my results file is overwritten. How can I avoid this?
A: Select another destination folder into which the second batch of results can be put. By design, results are named by adding either cd.res or tr.res to an existing .dat file.

Q: When I re-size the JWatcher screen, some of the buttons disappear. Why?
A: JWatcher is designed to run on a 640 x 480 screen. Re-sizing it below that may cause some problems that should be easily reversed by making it bigger.

Q: My on-line help doesn't work when I'm running JWatcher.
A: We've had some documented problems having Netscape NavigatorTM running on a Macintosh recognising our help files. Try downloading Microsoft's Internet Explorer and setting it as your default web browser. Additionally, depending on your memory allocations, JWatcher may not be able to run properly with a web browser. Print the JWatcher guide directly from the .pdf file provided and use it, rather than the on-line help.

Q: How much memory is needed to run JWatcher?
A: JWatcher only requires about 2 mb of RAM. However, the Java Virtual Machine requires more and takes it. For best performance, we suggest having about 64 mb of RAM free when running JWatcher. Allocating different amounts of RAM to JWatcher and the Java Virtual Machine may result in strange performance.

Note: Strange performance in no way influences the results, but you may have to quit the program and restart it periodically.

Q: I now have a bunch of JWatcher .res files, but I still don't know how much time my animals allocate to behaviour. What should I do?
A: JWatcher creates results files for each focal animal sample. Presumably your time budgets will be based on multiple focal animal samples conducted on multiple individuals. You will have to combine, using a spreadsheet, your JWatcher results files and calculate an overall time budget.

Q: What is the .tr.res file?
A: The .tr.res file is a results file set up in a way that you can easily graph a 'trace' of behaviour. Behavioural traces show the onset and termination of bouts of behaviour.

Q: When I want to quantify a behaviour and treat it as both an event and a state, I hit the same behaviour code more than once in a row. However, in state analysis, each key entry is counted as a bout with a 0 second interval between them. Is this correct?
A: Yes. Logically, each behaviour turns itself off. Therefore, you must be careful to decide whether you want the same behaviour code to be used to signify events within states or to solve this problem by assigning different codes to signify the state and event.

Q: I don't want to have to remove my hands from the keyboard to start recording behaviour in Data Capture. Is there a way I don't have to use the mouse to click start a focal observation?
A: Yes. Using the tab key, move the focus to the start button. When the focus is on the start button it will be highlighted. Once highlighted, hitting the space bar will start the clock.

Q: I'm working with a lot of slightly different .faf files. How can I keep track of them?
A: Data management is always difficult when conducting complex analyses. Copy the contents of the .faf summary into a word processor, add relevant comments, and print and save it.

Q: How can I view my .fmf file?
A: Open it and print it from a word processor.

Q: Why do I get unrecognised key codes in the analysis log file?
A: Either you have mistakenly typed an unrecognised key code or the .fmf used to score data is different from that used to create the .faf.

Q: How come I can't save my .faf?
A: Ahh, that nasty RAM again. Close other programs and/or try restarting JWatcher.

Q: I opened my .dat file to edit it and received a message saying that the associated behaviours and modifiers are missing. What's up?
A: In order to edit data files, JWatcher must locate and load the .fmf used when scoring data. The .fmf must either be in the location it was when scoring data, or it can be in the same folder as the .dat file.

Q: I batch processed a number of files but in some cases no results files are produced. Why?
A: Check the .log files for errors. Files with serious errors will not be processed.

Q: I was given the error message: "Behaviours in the related focal master <name> have changed. Edit the focal analysis master to update." What do I do?
A: Reopen the .faf in the Focal Analysis Master tab. A dialog box will ask if it is OK to update your .faf file. Click OK to update.


Q: Are files scored in 0.9 compatible with 1.0 and later releases?

A: Data files scored with Version 0.9 are compatible for use with all applicable Version 1.0 routines; therefore, no rescoring of existing data files is necessary (but see exception below). Global definition and focal master files created by Version 0.9 should be opened and resaved in Version 1.0, after verifying that no unintended alterations have occurred. Note that a number of key codes previously allowed in Version 0.9 global definition and focal master files are no longer able to be defined in Version 1.0 (see section 4 - Global Definition for more details - the six key codes are \ | : = , . ). If your previous global definition and focal master files contain any of these codes, we suggest that you create entirely new files in the new version. Version 0.9 data files containing these codes will be able to be analyzed, but these codes will be ignored, and thus information may be lost. If your Version 0.9 data files intentionally contained any of these key codes then you will need either to edit them or rescore.
Focal analysis master files created by Version 0.9 must be updated within the new version before use to prevent unexpected results. Open, fix any inconsistencies, and re-save. All of your original selections should be preserved except for one case within the Event Analysis window (see below). Files not updated may still be analyzed, but we have not extensively tested these results.
Event Analysis window: In Version 0.9, two analyses (event count and interval occurrence) were combined into one check box. In the new version, these two analyses are now separated into two independent check boxes. If you had selected the “Event Count and Interval Occurrence” box in Version 0.9, you won't get the “Event Count” box checked in the new version. Therefore, you must update this portion manually. Combinations master files created by Version 0.9 should not be used with Version 1.0. We suggest creating entirely new combination master files with Version 1.0, and rerunning the combine key codes routine. See the JWatcher 1.0 manual, section 9 - Combinations.


Q: Are version 1.0 files compatible with version 0.9?

A: Version 1.0 files are not compatible for use with Version 0.9.


Q: Are some key codes prohibited?

A: Yes, the six prohibited key codes are \ | : = , . This means that you should not use these to quantify behavior?

Copyright (c) 2000-2006--Daniel T. Blumstein, Janice C. Daniel, and Christopher S. Evans. All rights reserved.