About CuPED

CuPED ('Customizable Presentation of ELAN Documents') is a tool for transforming time-aligned transcripts, such as those produced by ELAN, into a variety of presentation formats. Where ELAN and similar tools commonly concentrate upon the production of transcripts suitable for long-term archival preservation, CuPED aims to provide a simple and user-friendly means of converting these archival sources into formats more readily accessible to a general audience.

Please note that CuPED is not affiliated in any way with ELAN or the Max Planck Institute, although both the institution and the software it creates through its Language Archiving Technology initiative deserve acknowledgement for the positive example they set in the development of tools for language documentation. Following that example, CuPED is free software, and is released under the GNU General Public License (version 2).

CuPED news

  • June 24, 2012: A number of CuPED users have reported having difficulty with some interactive features of the "Flowplayer" template appearing unresponsive. This problem has to do with Adobe Flash security policies that affect local media playback, and are not caused by CuPED itself. The CuPED users' manual (p.11) describes one possible work-around, adjusting Adobe Flash settings to accept CuPED output in a particular folder as safe.

    For many CuPED users, however, adjusting security settings for Adobe Flash on multiple machines is often not feasible, especially if CuPED output is being distributed on CD or DVD media. For cases such as these, we've developed a simpler method of updating the relevant Adobe Flash settings with a single click. Just download the workaround package, unzip it in the folder where your CuPED output is stored, and double-click on the appropriate script for your operating system (i.e. "Windows Setup" for Windows, "Mac Setup" for Mac OS X, "linux_setup.sh" for Linux). After restarting your web browser, the CuPED output should be fully interactive again.

    Many thanks to Alice Taff for her help in identifying and dealing with this this issue!
  • June 30, 2010: A new release of CuPED (0.3.15) is now available. Like the previous version, this new release concentrates on fixing several bugs which had been reported by CuPED users, including problems with loading ELAN transcripts with certain tier configurations and multiple media files. Many thanks to Daniel Kaufman and Naomi Palosaari for their help! Precompiled versions for Windows and Mac OS X are available for download from this site.
  • February 3, 2010: A users' manual for the latest release of CuPED is now available (in PDF format). Enjoy!
  • December 10, 2009: Following on the heels of yesterday's release, a new version of CuPED (0.3.14) is now available. This version brings all of the software components which CuPED uses to process media up to date, and fixes several other small bugs. Precompiled versions for Windows and Mac OS X are available below.
  • December 9, 2009: A new version of CuPED (0.3.13) has been released. This version is a bug fix release, and should resolve problems with starting CuPED that some users have reported. Precompiled versions for Mac OS X (Intel/PPC, ≥10.4) and Windows can be found below.
  • March 23, 2009: CuPED has moved! While still hosted by the Department of Linguistics at the University of Alberta, CuPED has found a new, more permanent address. Apologies for any inconvenience caused by the temporarily unavailability of CuPED during this transition.
  • March 14, 2009: Presentation of CuPED at the 1st International Conference on Language Endangerment and Conservation (ICLDC) (March 12-14, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawai'i).
  • March 11, 2009: Release of CuPED version 0.3.6. Fixes several small bugs which affected displaying template information.
  • March 5, 2009: Release of CuPED version 0.3.5. First public release of CuPED to include the new graphical user interface; numerous smaller bug fixes, improvements to existing templates.
  • February 14, 2009: First public release of CuPED (version 0.1.0).

CuPED usage examples

This section provides a small set of examples of what CuPED is capable of, demonstrating its templates and their output with ELAN transcripts involving several different languages. Wherever possible, the original ELAN transcripts and media are made available for download; where this is the case, such materials are provided for private research purposes only, and are not to be redistributed further or otherwise used without the permission of their original author(s).

Martha Klassen (Plautdietsch)

Martha Klassen - "Aupelkoose"

Martha Klassen tells a story in Plautdietsch (ISO 639-3: pdt; Indo-European: Germanic) from her childhood in Ukraine about trying to sneak off with apricots being dried by her aunt. (Used with kind permission of Peter Wiens / Moving Memory) [ELAN transcript and media (.zip)]

Nora Matchatis (Dëne Sųłiné)

Nora Matchatis - "Ch'emok, ch'emok, ch'emok"

Nora Matchatis tells a story in Dene Sųłiné (ISO 639-3: chp; Na-Dene: Athapaskan) about one old woman's decision to skip Mass to pick berries one Sunday morning. (Used with kind permission of Sally Rice) [ELAN transcript and media (.zip)]

Doruka Nyandeng Nicodemus Machot (Dinka)

Doruka Nyandeng Nicodemus Machot - "Rɛ̈ɛ̈c de kɛi de piɔ̈u. Ku rɛ̈ɛ̈c da agɔ̈th. Kɛi de piɔ̈u ee thou nhiaar liŋliŋ."

Doruka Nyandeng Nicodemus Machot tells a story in Dinka (ISO 639-2: din; Nilo-Saharan: Western Nilotic) concerning the sin of the heart's bitterness. (Used with kind permission of Kristina Geeraert) [ELAN transcript and media (.zip)]

Fedosia Sacaloff (Dena'ina)

Fedosia Sacaloff - "Unsah Tahna'ina"

Fedosia Sacaloff tells a story in Dena'ina (ISO 639-3: tfn; Na-Dene: Athapaskan) about the first Russian visit to the Dena'ina. (Used with kind permission of Jim Kari; picture of Fedosia Sacaloff from "Tanaina Plantlore: Dena'ina K'et'una" by Priscilla Russell Kari (Alaska Native Language Center, 1987)) [ELAN transcript and media (.zip)]

Bruce Starlight (Tsuut'ina)

Bruce Starlight - "Tłich'a Gunahi Gudinish Dzanagu"

Bruce Starlight tells a story in Tsuut'ina (ISO 639-3: srs; Na-Dene: Athapaskan) about how the dog came to lose its voice. [ELAN transcript and media (.zip)]

Albert Wassillie (Dena'ina)

Albert Wassillie - "Kił Ch'qinaghiłik'en Sutdu'a"

Albert Wassillie tells a story in Dena'ina (ISO 639-3: tfn; Na-Dene: Athapaskan) entitled "Kił Ch'qinaghiłik'en Sutdu'a" ("The Story of the Stupid Boy"). (Used with kind permission of qenaga.org) [ELAN transcript and media (.zip)]

Getting CuPED

For users:

For most users, the easiest way to get started with CuPED will likely be to download a copy which has been precompiled for your operating system. Precompiled releases of CuPED are currently available for Windows and Mac OS X:

Please note that these binary distributions have only been tested on Windows XP (SP2) and Mac OS X 10.6. Compatibility with earlier versions of these operating systems is not guaranteed, although efforts have been made to ensure that all Mac releases are available as Universal binaries. (It's likely that Mac releases of CuPED will run without any problem on any version of Mac OS X from 10.4 onwards, but that really hasn't been tested yet.)


A users' manual is available for the most recent version of CuPED, presenting a step-by-step, illustrated introduction to using CuPED with ELAN transcripts:

For developers:

CuPED is developed in Python. The source code for past and present releases of CuPED can be found here:

The primary CuPED source tree is currently maintained in Bazaar. Instructions on how to access the most recent development version will be added shortly.

Both the above releases and the current development versions depend on Mako and Python 2.6. Windows releases additionally make use of py2exe to create executables, and NSIS to create an installer. Mac OS X releases employ py2app for similar purposes, but further require a functional Unix development environment (e.g. XTools) to build disk images. All other dependencies should be met in the CuPED source tree itself.

Development roadmap

CuPED is under active development, as are many of the open-source components it relies upon. While CuPED should be fully functional in its current form, the developers are hoping to add or improve several features of CuPED in the not-too-distant future. Among those features planned are:

  • Allow users to select which media files referenced in an ELAN transcript will be used as the primary sources for audio and video. (Thanks to Naomi Palosaari for this suggestion!)
  • Revise the XML structure used for CuPED templates to allow for localization and internationalization. This work is already partially completed, and will hopefully make it into the next major release of CuPED.
  • Include instructions in the user manual on how to develop your own CuPED templates.

If CuPED is missing any features that you might find helpful, or if you would like to make a suggestion as to how CuPED might be improved to help you with your current projects, please feel free to contact the authors.


CuPED relies upon several pieces of open-source software to convert transcripts and their associated media:

  • Mako provides the engine used in processing CuPED templates.
  • ffmpeg is currently used for converting transcript media into a range of presentation formats.
  • yamdi is bundled with CuPED, and will soon be used to post-process FLV files.
  • Python is the language-of-choice for CuPED development, and a constant source of joy.
  • PyQt provides a great set of Python bindings for the Qt toolkit.

CuPED has benefitted as well from the contributions of the following individuals and organizations (in alphabetical order):

CuPED incorporates icons from the 'circular' icon theme, developed by Ben Gillbanks (Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license), and from the 'Tango' icon theme, developed by contributors to the Tango Project (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license). While CuPED gratefully acknowledges its use of these resources, this should not be taken to indicate in any way an endorsement of CuPED by these independent developers.

Development of CuPED has been supported in part by funding provided by the Trudeau Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Killam Trusts, and the Dena'ina Archiving, Training and Access project, funded by US National Science Foundation grant NSF-OPP 0326805. CuPED is hosted on server space provided through the Language Documentation Research Cluster in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Alberta. All such support is gratefully acknowledged here.


For more information about CuPED, to suggest (or contribute) new features, or to report problems with CuPED, please feel free to contact either Christopher Cox or Andrea Berez.