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Create or reuse ontologies

Alex Cota Updated by Alex Cota

You can think of the ontology as the top-level entity that can be shared or copied across multiple projects, making it easier to make cascading changes or use an existing ontology as a starting point rather than starting from scratch. When creating a new project, you can create an ontology for your project in one of three ways:

  1. Create a new ontology. Useful if you are just starting out with Labelbox or if you just need to create a new ontology completely from scratch.
  2. Use a shared ontology. Do this if you have multiple projects that need to reference the
  3. Create a copy of an existing ontology. Create a copy of an existing ontology to use as a starting point rather than creating one completely from scratch.

This document explains how to share, copy, and manage your ontologies in the label interface.

To learn how to share and clone ontologies programmatically, see our GraphQL docs on Ontologies.

Create a new ontology

When you create a new project, the ontology will automatically be named after it. When you create an ontology this way, you are creating a new ontology from scratch and it will only be connected to the project you are currently configuring.

When exploring the ontologies in the dropdown menu, you can click the “x” icon to go back to creating an ontology from scratch.

Use a shared ontology

Shared ontologies are helpful if you want to use projects to break up larger labeling efforts, but you want all projects to use the same set of objects and classifications.

Use the dropdown at the top to select a shared ontology. You can either use the shared ontology as is, or you can bypass the model to make edits to the shared ontology.

Any change to a shared ontology will impact all projects referencing this shared ontology. This is not reversible.

Rename the ontology

At any point, you can use the context menu's "Rename" option to rename your ontology. Note that renaming a shared ontology will rename the ontology for all projects referencing that ontology. A strategic naming convention for your ontologies can make them easier to find in the dropdown list.

Copy an existing ontology

To copy an existing ontology, select an ontology from the dropdown menu, then click the three dots icon in the corner and select “Create copy”. All changes made to the copied ontology will only affect the project your configuring. Copied ontologies can later on be shared.

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Ontology overview