Annotate any document type with highlights, hyperlinks, notes, executable copy editor markup.


Screen dump

Try annotating now. With the mouse, drag though some text to make a selection and choose Anno/Add Highlight from the menubar. Then make a selection somewhere else, but return the cursor to the highlight, click the alternative mouse button, and choose Morph to Current Selection. The Anno, CopyEd, and Style menus have other annotations.


Annotate any concrete document format that has a media adaptor. This now includes scanned paper, HTML, UNIX manual pages, TEX DVI, and even file directories. As developers write new media adaptors, annotations work on those document formats; and as developers write new annotation types, they work on all document formats.

Annotations can be created in situ, meaning they appear right where they apply, not in a separate window. Annotations are anchored to content, as opposed to being placed geometrically in a place that happens to correspond to the right document content... until the document is reformatted, or someone views that HTML page with a different browser window size. Annotations are robust to edits in the source document. Annotations can be edited, moved, and deleted.

Annotations are kept on a distinct layer from the document being annotated, so they can annotate document formats, such as ASCII or scanned pages, that do not support them, and so materials with read-only access (on CD-ROM or a foreign server) can be annotated.

The Anno menu offers several common annotation types:

A highlight annotation can be made by selecting the text to be marked and choosing Anno/Highlight. The background color can be changed by clicking the alternative mouse button anywhere in the highlighted span and choosing the new color from the popup menu. Span-type annotations—those that start at one point in the text and extend continuously until their endpoint—can be moved; make a selection on the desired location, and choose "Morph to Selection" from the popup menu.
Hyperlinks and anchors
You can add hyperlinks to ASCII and other document formats that don't support hyperlinks, or add them to places in HTML documents where there isn't a link but should be. If you want to link to a point within a page but the document doesn't have an anchor there (they never have one when you need it), you can add an anchor. Like highlights, hyperlinks are also span-type annotations; and as well as moving them, one can edit their URLs and names, respecively.
Notes are editable text within a moveable, resizable window. The window can be closed by clicking the box in the upper right corner, which puts it away under the Anno menu, and can be collapsed to just their title bar by clicking the box to the left of the close box. Notes are full-fledged documents that can be annotated themselves. By clicking the alternative mouse button on the note title bar, you can pin the note to the document or let it float regardless of scroll position, choose a background color including transparent, or delete the note. A note's window controls appear only when the cursor is in that note, in order to remove clutter.
Executable Copy Editor Markup
Annotations under the CopyEd menu are executable. For example, if you mark text with the Delete annotation, you can subsequently click and the marked text will be deleted. (If the document cannot be written back to its source, this effect will go away the next time the page is loaded; however notes are saved.) The Short Comment under the CopyEd ("copy editor") menu put its in between the lines, reformatting to open more space above the current line. The incremental reformatting works on scanned paper, too. To finish setting Move Text, click within the span and drag to the destination point. Other copy editor markup includes Insert Text, Insert Text, Delete, Replace With, and ALL CAPS.
Style: Font, Color, Blink
Items in the style menu override the formatting in the annotated document over the selected span. You can change the font face, point size, and weight (plain, italic, bold). You can set the foreground or background color. You can set blink, even in scanned paper. You can underline, overstrike, make invisible (foreground set to prevailing background), or elide (invisible + remove from formatting).

Saving Annotations

Annotations are automatically saved as you browse from page to page to your personal annotation directory. To save annotations to separate file, so you can email them or put them on web pages so other can look at them, choose File / Save Annos As....

Robustly Anchored

Annotations are robustly anchored to document content with Robust Locations, so that if the annotated document is formatted differently because it is viewed in a window of different dimensions or if the content of the document has been edited, the annotations still appear at the right place. Annotations can easily survive any reformatting.

If editing is so extensive that the system can't automatically attach re-anchor the annotation with confidence, a note is created with the annotation attached to saved context [screen dump]. [This feature is presently broken.]

Technical Notes

Developers write against an abstract document tree, so the exact same code works on all concrete document types, to the extent that it makes sense for that type.

Annotations are saved in Multivalent hub documents, which are lists, in XML format, of the behaviors and parameters (which are passed in XML attributes) needed to reconstitute the document later. Annotations on all pages of multipage documents, such as scanned paper and TEX DVI, are collected together in the one hub.


Under development is a digital ink annotation type.

Last update: $Date: 2001/12/16 20:53:28 $