Annotation support
Date:    Fri, 23 Jul 93 03:45 PDT
Message-id: <>
Subject: Annotation support
Status: RO
Support for Annotations is not (as far as I know) part of the current HTML
 standard, since
   it is not really a property of the source text, but rather of the Browser. I
 notice that
   NCSA's Mosaic is currently providing private annotations, and is about to
 provide group
   and public annotations. This is a good idea, although the annotations are on
 a "per Window"
   basis, which may not be ideal - it could be better if the annotations are
 linked more closely
   to sections of text - perhaps by having "annotation anchors" in the margin,
 which link
   to the annotation text

   There is an additional problem with annotations, not addressed in Mosaic's
 implementation, since
   it may be desirable to allow annotations on annotations! I do not believe
 that Mosaic does this.

I am aware of some systems which provide support for annotations, though not for
 HTML documents -
   for example the MUCH system developed by Roy Rada at Liverpool, and designed
 for asynchronous local
   development of text, does have annotation support.

However, although it might appear that annotations are "simply" a property of
 the Browser - the
   problem does not end there. The way NCSA have done it is to provide
 annotation servers - this then
   raises the possibility of different Browsers using the same annotation
 server. This would be
   beneficial to many users, since there would then be no requirement to adopt a
 particular browser
   package - for example I could communicate using Mosaic on my Unix system, and
 someone else could
   annotate my text using Cello on an IBM PC etc.

It seems to me that there is a need for consideration of annotation services,
 and how to provide them.

I think this is an issue which needs wider discussion - if it has not had it


David Martland, Dept. of Computer Science, Brunel University, United Kingdom
Tel:   (+44) 0/895 - 274000 ext 2139      [Overseas callers should suppress
Fax:   (+44) 0/895 - 256186                the leading zero of the area code]