Nonlinear time series analysis is becoming a more and more reliable tool for the study of complicated dynamics from measurements. The concept of low-dimensional chaos has proven to be fruitful in the understanding of many complex phenomena despite the fact that very few natural systems have actually been found to be low dimensional deterministic in the sense of the theory. In order to evaluate the long term usefulness of the nonlinear time series approach as inspired by chaos theory, it will be important that the corresponding methods become more widely accessible. This paper, while not a proper review on nonlinear time series analysis, tries to make a contribution to this process by describing the actual implementation of the algorithms, and their proper usage. Most of the methods require the choice of certain parameters for each specific time series application. We will try to give guidance in this respect. The scope and selection of topics in this article, as well as the implementational choices that have been made, correspond to the contents of the software package TISEAN which is publicly available from http://www.mpipks-dresden.mpg.de/~tisean. In fact, this paper can be seen as an extended manual for the TISEAN programs. It fills the gap between the technical documentation and the existing literature, providing the necessary entry points for a more thorough study of the theoretical background.