Documents have long been the information dead-ends of the web, needing separate plugins and viewers to download and read them. Now A.nnotate.com enhances PDF, Word documents and any web page to allow highlighting text, interactive comments and discussion right in the web browser.
Edinburgh, Scotland, 4th April 2008: Textensor Limited, an Edinburgh University startup company today launched A.nnotate.com, a new service that everyone can use to discuss, review and index their documents online.
A.nnotate lets users attach notes to precise places in the text of PDF, Word documents and web pages online. It is easy to use and operates in a web browser: the user simply highlights text and writes a note. All notes, documents and tags are added to their personal searchable index making it simple to get back to the right place. Uploaded documents are initially private, but can be shared by emailing a link. This lets several users comment on the same online copy of the document and add replies to each others notes. It acts like a shared online version of Word or PDF comments but avoids the usual problems of emailing documents back and forth and having to merge comments from different people.
Applications include peer review of research papers, indexing documents and web pages, web research and collaboration on writing new documents. It is also being used for content curation and populating scientific databases. Curators tag words or phrases in articles which are then used to create database and index entries. The advantage is that claims in the database are then backed up by references to the precise source and context in the literature.
According to Dr Robert Cannon, co-founder of Textensor Limited, "This is for anyone who has ever made a note in the margin of a printed copy but then couldn't find it later, or had problems reading other people's handwriting. It is about coping with the overwhelming volume of documents that we have to handle in a more efficient and reliable way. You can put web pages, PDF and Word in the same system and be sure that you can return to an exact place on the page later, and also share your comments securely with colleagues online."
The system is available as an online web service and also for in-house licensing. It operates entirely within a web browser and does not require any plugins. Further details and a free trial are available from a.nnotate.com.