Welcome to JWatcher

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JWatcher is a powerful tool for the quantitative analysis of behavior. It can be used to address any theoretical problem that requires a complex sequence of actions to be scored by a human observer. JWatcher is written in Java[TM] and is hence not dependent on a particular operating system. It will run on almost any microcomputer capable of providing a Java Virtual Machine[TM] and has been tested on both Windows[TM] and Macintosh[TM] systems. The legacy version (version 0.9) works on older systems (Macintosh OS-9 and Windows-98), while the Version 1.0 works well on 2020 versions of Linux, Macintosh and Windows operating systems. JWatcher Video only works on old Windows XP systems and has reduced functionality running in old Macintosh OS. JWatcher-Palm can be used to acquire data on a Palm OS[TM] equipped device and analyze it on your main computer.

JWatcher can be used simply as an event recorder which logs the time at which keys are pressed. It was designed primarily for focal sampling, in which a single subject is observed continuously. The real power of JWatcher is, however, in its analysis routines. These calculate time budgets and provide statistics about the duration of behavioral states and the intervals between them. Version 1.0 includes a number of additional algorithms that can be used to study sequences and study conditional behaviors (e.g., to study the frequency of or time allocated to walking while chewing gum), as well as algorithms to combine multiple results files and those to study inter- or intra-observer reliability .

We developed JWatcher because existing event-recording programs typically force the user to make a restrictive series of decisions before beginning to observe behavior. JWatcher imposes few such constraints. It is based on a “score once, analyze many times” philosophy that we have adopted in our studies of animal behavior. For instance, a single data file can be used to calculate time budgets over both short and long periods, or to track changes in different subsets of the behaviors seen. Each behavior can be analyzed both as an instantaneous event (measuring frequency) and as a state (measuring total duration). The logical relationships between behaviors can be edited in post-processing (i.e., a given behavioral state can be redefined as independent or as mutually exclusive with others). The number of states that can be tracked simultaneously is limited only by the number of alphanumeric keys available. Users may choose to exclude or ignore certain behaviors in analyses, and categories can be combined to generate behavioral codes that were not originally scored. Batch mode analyses allow efficient processing.

JWatcher was designed to be used in association with common word processing, spreadsheet, and graphics software. It produces simple output files that can readily be imported by such programs. We have concentrated on developing new scoring and analysis algorithms, rather than duplicating functions in existing software.

Sinauer Associates published the complete JWatcher manual: Quantifying Behavior the JWatcher Way but this is now out of print (you can still find used copies). You can download a PDF of the book here. In addition, the book has educational exercises, walks users through output, and contains suggestions for how to quantify behavior. We also freely provide a basic manual for the 0.9 version (version 0.9 manual). We also provide the manual for the Palm version (JWatcher-Palm manual) should you still have Palm pilots! If you have questions while running JWatcher, consult the book, manual and the list of Frequently Asked Questions. You can download a version of JWatcher for either Mac or Windows, with or without a supporting Java environment. Unfortunately, we currently do not have the resources to provide complementary user support. 

Last updated: 11 July 20