This article summarized our findings.
When considering the main users of CVAT and LabelStudio, it's essential to acknowledge that both tools are open-source, theoretically making them accessible to anyone. However, installing and using them requires a certain level of technical knowledge. This can present a challenge for individuals such as casual annotators or students from non-technical fields. There are also feature-wise limitations, but we will talk about them later.
That is why we are turning our focus to the online ready-to-use versions, where CVAT Cloud stands out for its user-friendly approach, particularly for solo users. It offers a free version without any trial period, enabling start of annotation at no cost. The straightforward registration process allows users to start immediately, the interface is friendly and many users can start annotating data in minutes.
This user-friendliness doesn't mean CVAT overlooks the needs of companies and organizations. In fact, it includes numerous features designed for Team collaboration. Additionally, its transparent, flat-rate pricing, and many labeling companies are using CVAT to annotate visual data because it is one of the best tool $/quality.
The LabelStudio's cloud version (also known as Label Studio Enterprise) is tailored to professional teams and organizations involved in AI projects. While it offers a trial plan, it's not immediately apparent on the website—a good marketing strategy, but not very user-friendly. Individual users can enjoy the free to use Label-Studio Self-Hosted doesn’t include many features, just some basic annotation options .
Positively, once registered, users receive comprehensive onboarding to navigate the platform's features. However, unlike CVAT, LabelStudio Enterprise does not offer flat-rate pricing. To use the cloud version without limitations, potential users must contact sales. This approach makes LabelStudio useless to casual users or those seeking quick annotation solutions. Nonetheless, for technically adept teams requiring a versatile annotation tool, LabelStudio stands out as a formidable option.
Let's explore the annotation process, comparing how each service stacks up in terms of features we'll use to set up and annotate a dataset. We're not diving into every minute detail or timing each step with a stopwatch. Instead, we aim to understand from the perspective of an average Joe how the annotation workflows of both platforms function.
The CVAT registration process is straightforward, while for Label Studio you need to talk to sales, as we’ve mentioned before.
Single Sign-On is supported on both CVAT and LabelStudio Platform with some limitations.
On CVAT Cloud it is a default feature that doesn’t need additional activation. On CVAT Self-Hosted solution it is a paid feature.
Label-Studio does not support SSO on the self-hosted version, only in Cloud.
Both CVAT and Label Studio offer shared workspace functionalities, allowing for the organization of projects by team, department, or product. This feature ensures that users can access only those workspaces with which they are associated, fostering an environment of focused collaboration and security.
CVAT provides shared workspaces for organizations, available both in cloud-based and self-hosted solutions. This flexibility allows organizations to choose the option that best fits their operational needs, whether they prefer the convenience of cloud access or the control of a self-hosted environment.
Label Studio, on the other hand, offers shared workspace capabilities exclusively on Enterprise/ (Cloud)/ On-Prem solution, limiting options for Community version.
The first step for both platforms involves registering. In CVAT you can create an Organization (the step is not forced) and this is a separate step in CVAT, but it's a default state for Label Studio Cloud.
Both platforms provide efficient methods for organizing projects, designed to cater to the needs of different organizational structures. This setup facilitates a streamlined workflow and boosts collaboration within organizations.
In CVAT, the process starts with registration and switching to an Organization. From there, setting up a project is straightforward. Simply click on the button to begin:
And fill out the form. Voilà, you have it! Note: There is no need to add data at this point.
For Label Studio the process is pretty much the same, just click on the button and follow the instructions on the screen.
Note, that most probably it is better to add data at this point.
Before uploading data, it's important to understand the types of data each platform supports.
CVAT stands out with its specialized focus on images and videos (including PDF and PCD), aligning perfectly with Computer Vision projects. For a detailed understanding of its supported data types, you can refer to the CVAT supported formats. documentation. In terms of range, CVAT excels in image and video formats, based on the Python Pillow library. This includes such formats as JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF, PPM, TIFF, and more, complemented by video formats including MP4, AVI, and MOV.
Label Studio, in contrast, showcases its versatility by supporting a wider array of data types. This not only covers images and video formats, but also extends to text, sound and mixed types. This broad range signifies Label Studio’s capability to handle diverse project requirements. When it comes to image and video formats, Label Studio supports BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, SVG, WEBP for images, and MP4 and WEBM for videos.
While the aim of this article isn't to provide a detailed comparison between CVAT and Label Studio, we'll focus on a high-level overview of their similarities and differences. Therefore, we'll only discuss image and video data, which are the types of data both platforms support.
On both platforms before starting working, you need to create an annotation task. This includes loading the data and adding labels.
Both CVAT and Label Studio offer functionalities for data import and export, allowing users to handle various datasets efficiently. However, each platform has its unique capabilities and potential limitations in this regard.
In CVAT you can import and export data in formats commonly used in computer vision tasks. For importing, it supports various image and video formats, including those from the Python Pillow library like JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF, PPM, TIFF, and video formats such as MP4, AVI, MOV. You can import datasets with annotations as well.
On the export side, CVAT allows users to download annotated data in popular formats like COCO, Pascal VOC, and YOLO and other formats.
You can import data from the Cloud Storages or from your own PC/Laptop by drag and drop, and add data to the project any time.
Note, that you need to upload data when creating a Project:
If you skip this step, the process might lead to confusion, as later images can only be imported from URLs, so even if you have them in the laptop folder, first you need to run a script or add the file directory as a source or target local storage connection in the Label Studio UI.
For the other types of data the process might be different, while for CVAT it is the same for any data type.
You can also import/export from the Cloud Storage, as both CVAT and Label Studio offer functionalities that allow users to connect with major cloud services such as AWS, GCP, and Azure for read/write access.
CVAT allows users to connect with cloud storage platforms including AWS, GCP, and Azure. This feature is particularly useful for organizations that rely on these services for storing and accessing large datasets.
Label Studio supports cloud storage integration with AWS, GCP, and Azure and more. However, some steps of the process might be technically demanding and requires a certain level of technical expertise.
Both platforms naturally support labels.
In CVAT, labels can be added both at the Project and Task levels. The process is straightforward and entirely conducted through the UI interface, where you can also add attributes to the labels.
All annotation tools are available in the interface at any time by default, unless you intentionally restrict them.
In Label Studio, you first need to select one of the preset labeling setups (see image below), which limits the use of annotation tools to just one. Alternatively, you can configure a custom setup, which again requires some technical expertise.
You can assign tasks in both CVAT and Label Studio.
CVAT offers a streamlined system for organizations, allowing managers or team leads to invite workers and assign specific tasks and dataset samples to annotators. This ensures that each annotator receives a clear set of jobs to be annotated tailored to their role or expertise. Only manual assignment is available in CVAT.
Similarly, Label Studio provides a robust mechanism for task and dataset distribution among individual users in an organizational setting. You can invite users to Organization and then assign annotation tasks to them.
The annotation processes in CVAT and Label Studio are quite similar, with the key difference being that CVAT allows the use of various tools for different needs, whereas Label Studio does not.
To illustrate this difference, we've annotated the same image using both platforms.
In CVAT, you have the flexibility to use different tools at any time, for various objects as needed:
In Label Studio, you are limited to using only tools that align with the initial Project configuration.
But what if you want not only to invite annotators, but also speed up the annotation process? For cases like this, both CVAT and Label Studio have automatic annotation options on cloud and self-hosted solutions.
CVAT and Label Studio both incorporate Verification and Quality Assurance (QA) features, crucial for maintaining high standards in annotation projects. However, their availability and specific functionalities differ.
CVAT offers Verification and QA tools in both its self-hosted and cloud versions, providing flexibility for different user preferences.
Key features include:
Label Studio, on the other hand, offers its Verification and QA features exclusively in its cloud version. This includes:
In CVAT, analytics are primarily focused on providing insights into the annotation process. monitor the time spent on annotations, and review the performance. This functionality is crucial for project managers looking to optimize workflows and ensure quality control.
Label Studio offers analytics and reporting features, but the specifics remain somewhat of a mystery due to the lack of documentation. To gain a full understanding, it's likely necessary to contact their sales team.
Single Sign-On is supported on both CVAT and LabelStudio Platform with some limitations.
Label-Studio does not support SSO on the self-hosted version, only on Enterprise.
Both CVAT and Label Studio offer API access, providing programmatic capabilities that greatly enhance the flexibility and integration of these platforms with other systems.
CVAT’s API access allows the automation of various tasks and integration with external systems. Users can interact with CVAT through API to upload datasets, retrieve annotations, and manage projects.
Similarly, Label Studio offers API access, emphasizing seamless embedding of its functionalities into other systems.
To put it simply, CVAT is a great tool that everyone can use - whether you're working alone, doing a small project, or an owner of a big team handling large projects. It's easy to use and can grow with your needs, making it perfect for any organization, big or small.
Label Studio, on the other hand, comes with a wide range of tools and is really good for big companies that work with many different types of data and have complex annotation tasks. However, if you're planning to set it up on your own servers, there might be some limits to keep in mind.
In short: Use Label Studio for a variety of data types and CVAT for annotating images and videos.
When we look at the annotation tools in Label Studio and CVAT, it's clear that each one offers different features for various types of projects. It's important to note that Label Studio handles a broader range of annotations, like text and audio, which CVAT doesn't offer since it's focused on image annotation. Therefore, our comparison will focus only on the tools related to image and video annotation in both platforms.
Label Studio is like a versatile multitool, offering a wide array of annotation options for different types of data. It's not just limited to images and videos; it also includes tools for audio classification, emotion segmentation, text summarization, and even complex tasks like HTML NER tagging and dialog analysis. This makes Label Studio incredibly flexible, capable of handling various kinds of annotation tasks across different formats, much like a multitool that's useful in numerous situations.
CVAT, on the other hand, is more like a sharp knife, specialized and highly effective in its domain. It focuses primarily on image and video annotations, offering tools specifically designed for detailed tasks in these areas. With functionalities like 3D Object Annotation, Annotation with Polygons, and Skeleton Annotation, CVAT is tailored for projects that need depth and precision in visual data, similar to how a sharp knife excels in precise cutting tasks.
In essence, if you need a tool for a broad range of annotation tasks across different formats, Label Studio is your go-to. But if your work revolves around detailed image and video annotations, CVAT would be the more suitable choice.
We went out and asked independent annotators about their experience with CVAT and Label Studio. Some opinion could be found on reddit, for example:
And some in the responses below:
Let’s start with an overall impression. We asked annotators what they generally think about both tools.
For CVAT, we received mixed responses with suggestions for improvement.
"I view CVAT as a good annotation tool for computer vision projects, but it could benefit from some improvements in navigation. For example, I'm not entirely certain if there is a panel displaying all shortcut keys, a feature crucial for speeding up annotators' work. Another issue is the 'undo' function; currently, it only removes layers rather than reversing the actual action just performed. Additionally, when using the brush polygon tool, there's no way to remove or delete incorrectly placed polygon points without restarting the entire drawing of that polygon, which can be quite time-consuming. The double-click zoom-out feature also poses a challenge, especially when drawing polygons rapidly. The tool often zooms out to fit the image to the screen, causing my next click to land in an unintended location and create an unnecessary polygon point, forcing me to restart the annotation. It would be beneficial if annotators could select two polygons and choose which one to subtract from the other. Although subtracting from the lower layer is helpful, the flexibility to subtract in either direction, or even later in the annotation process, would be preferable. A good model for this is V7's Darwin."
While another opinion says:
"Cvat is very user-friendly. It is very easy to annotate and the filter option is very useful for QA checking."
"CVAT is easier to use for any new user who has never used CVAT before."
Label Studio also received some feedback:
"I believe LabelStudio is quite a good annotation tool. I think it may be on the same level as CVAT but probably on a bit of a higher level. The interface is much better."
"Label studio platform is not user-friendly but it has so many features like text annotation, audio annotation, etc... The Annotation interface is good, it's very bad as compared to cvat.it is very difficult to configure."
"Not as much easier to use for a new user who doesn't know much about the tool."
Conclusion: For experienced annotators or labeling service owners willing to invest time and resources into configuration, LabelStudio, with its broad range of features, might be more appealing. On the flip side, CVAT, known for its user-friendliness and ease of use, particularly for new users, is an ideal tool for beginners, solo users, or teams looking for a straightforward image annotation solution without the need for extensive tool customization.
When asked which tool was easier to configure and start using, CVAT or LabelStudio, the responses leaned towards CVAT:
"I just use the online version of CVAT; I did not configure LS either."
"Cvat is easy to configure. In Label Studio, the configuration is very different as we cannot use all the tools on one project."
Conclusion: These responses highlight a key advantage for CVAT: its ease of configuration and usability. Users appreciate the straightforward setup process and the fact that, unlike Label Studio, CVAT allows access to all tools in a project by default. This flexibility, where tools can be either limited or unlimited based on project requirements, makes CVAT particularly user-friendly, especially for those who prefer not to delve into complex configuration settings. In contrast, Label Studio, while powerful, presents a steeper learning curve in terms of configuration, especially when it comes to utilizing multiple tools in one project.
When asked about specific features in the interfaces of CVAT and Label Studio that stood out, the feedback varied:
"The AI tools."
"I like the polygon tool most. It's different from all other platforms. However, as the number of instances increases, the platform becomes slow."
These responses indicate a preference for CVAT's AI and polygon tools, highlighting their uniqueness and utility. However, a concern was raised about the platform's performance slowing down as the workload increases, suggesting a potential area for optimization.
For Label Studio:
"None stood out for me."
"The user interface for annotation is not good, and the zooming option is not good at all."
"For new users in LabelStudio, you need to spend a lot of time to learn how the interface functions, what/which buttons are where, and also what they do. It's not as straightforward as CVAT."
Conclusion: Label Studio received comments indicating that its user interface could be challenging, especially for new users. The complexity of the interface and the learning curve required to understand its functionalities were seen as drawbacks, compared to the more intuitive interface of CVAT.
When it comes to the most useful functionalities or features of CVAT and Label Studio, users have highlighted specific aspects that stand out in each tool:
"The subtraction from the lower layer; this option improves data quality by setting clear boundaries for different annotations."
"The filter option for quality check if there are a number of classes."
"Mostly all features, depending on project requirements."
Users appreciated CVAT's subtraction feature for its ability to enhance data quality through clear boundary setting. The filter option was also noted for its utility in quality checks, particularly when dealing with multiple classes. Overall, the response indicates that CAT's features are broadly useful, with their utility varying depending on the specific requirements of the project.
For Label Studio:
"None in particular."
"Text Annotation is very nice in Label Studio."
"For some projects, like NLP projects, I found it easier to work on text annotations using LabelStudio."
While one user did not single out any specific feature in Label Studio, others found the text annotation capabilities particularly useful, especially for NLP projects. This suggests that Label Studio's strength lies in its versatility, particularly in handling text-based annotations.
Conclusion: The feedback suggests that CVAT is highly valued for its specific annotation features like the subtraction from the lower layer and the filter option, which are crucial for improving data quality and ensuring accuracy in projects with complex class structures. On the other hand, Label Studio is recognized for its strength in text annotation, making it a more suitable choice for projects that require extensive work with text, such as NLP tasks. The choice between CVAT and Label Studio would thus depend on the nature of the annotation project: CVAT for projects requiring detailed image/video annotation and Label Studio for text-heavy projects.
When comparing the annotation tools of CVAT and Label Studio in terms of variety and efficiency, users provided varied insights:
"I think they are both on the same level."
"Compared to Label Studio, the annotation speed and efficiency are very good at CVAT."
"I'd prefer CVAT due to its features, UI, customization & integration, and also its ease in importing and exporting data formats."
Conclusion: While CVAT and Label Studio are viewed as broadly similar in terms of the variety of annotation tools they offer, CVAT is favored for its speed, efficiency, and user-friendly experience. Its features, along with the UI, customization, and data handling capabilities, make it a preferred choice for users looking for a tool that is easy to use. This makes CVAT particularly suitable for projects where speed and ease of annotation are priorities.
When asked about the limitations or challenges encountered with the annotation tools in CVAT and LabelStudio, users shared specific experiences:
Challenges in CVAT:
"While annotating with the polygon tool, I drew one polygon on top of the other and subtracted from the lower layer. I realized I made a mistake and had to undo; this deleted the new or upper layer polygon, leaving a hole or empty space in the lower layer. That was not very helpful. It even made me work more and use up more time. I also noticed after the annotation that the analytics pane had not recorded anything on my work at all."
"In CVAT, the opacity option needs to be changed. It needs to be adjusted every time."
"Yes, in CVAT, some features only work for premium user accounts."
Conclusions: While Label Studio offers a wide array of options suited for complex and diverse projects, it's crucial to recognize CVAT's capabilities in this context as well. CVAT is not only user-friendly for beginners and solo projects but is also robust enough to support large-scale projects and experienced teams. Its intuitive interface, coupled with powerful features, makes CVAT an outstanding choice for a variety of annotation needs.
Choosing between CVAT and Label Studio ultimately hinges on project specifics and user preferences.
However, as part of the CVAT corporation, we firmly believe that CVAT stands out as the premier Visual Data annotation tool globally. Its versatility, efficiency, and ease of use position it as the go-to option for anyone looking to leverage the power of computer vision annotation, from small-scale projects to large enterprise needs. Our commitment to continuous improvement and feature expansion ensures that CVAT remains at the forefront, catering to the evolving demands of the computer vision community and attracting potential customers with its unparalleled capabilities
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