E2 annotation tool is going offline. As of the 1st of April 2007, my account where the annotation tool lives expired. Due to rather unfortunate circumstances, I was only able to backup the database and the script, but not the (quite small) php scripts. E2 annotation tool may return bigger and better if enough people ask. More likely it will die a quiet death. I think it's probably one of the things I'm proudest of on E2 and overall it was a great idea, web 2.0, before web 2.0 existed, ajax before ajax and all that lark. I do have the webspace and stuff to put it back up. It would probably take me a week or so of coding time. If you want it, drop me a line!

Last modified, 2005-3-27. Removed the need to force a page reload to commit modifications to the server. Also, the new version always implements hidification and prettyfication. This implies a major overhall of the How section. If you already have the previous version in your notelet, you will need to change the code as described in "How".

2005-3-8. Added a feature to put the comments in the blab-box, ready for sending to non-users of the tool. See below under Blabification.

2005-2-7. Added a feature for firefox. See it at the bottom under Hidification.

2004-12-23, mad props go to CrAzE for helping out! The writeup has been edited in accordance. New features include deletions, prettyness and some bug repair.

What? Why?

I'd like to share this tool I've been developing with you. The idea is to be able to attach a comment, viewable by all who use the tool, to a specific word of a specific node. When will this be useful? Suppose you want to correct some typos in a long writeup... much easier to add them in at each occasion, than to try to describe where the typo is each time, and keep having to keep moving back and forth between blab box and current reading position. I also hope it will help improve the quality of feedback, both on scratchpads and writeups.

Some screenshots of the homepage and of a page which has comments on it can be seen here. They are now very much out of date:
http://ic2.epfl.ch/~dyke/e/annotationhomepage.jpeg
http://ic2.epfl.ch/~dyke/e/annotationnodeaudit.jpeg
Note that the (show) has been replaced by a cute ♠

How

Note that this section has been modified and bears only superficial resemblance to the original, which can be found at the bottom of the writeup for posterity.

This tool works in the notelet. You need to add the following line to your notelet for E2 Annotation Tool to work:

<div id="annotate"></div><script src="http://ic2.epfl.ch/~dyke/e/x1.js"></script>

For those of you using Internet Explorer, the annotation tool is in your notelet. For those of you using Firefox, the annotation tool is at the top left of your screen. In both cases, it is invisible but will appear when you go over it with the mouse.

You can then go to E2 Quick Start to make sure everything is working ok. To read a comment, click on the little spade-shaped thingy. Adding a comment is easy.

  • Check the Enable annotation adding box.
  • Select the words you want to annotate.
  • A box should appear in which you can write your comment.
  • Press ok. The comment will be silently posted straight to my server. It's instantaneous. You don't need to wait for anything.

The delete and hide buttons do what their name suggests. Remember that the first will remove the comment from the server. Use with care. Annotations which are orphaned (because the underlying text is modified) are removed from the server the next time someone with the tool visits the node. So if you fix typos, the annotations will automatically be deleted.

If you don't like the default background color of the annotations, you can add a color, so:

<div id="annotate" class="#ff6">

The "#ff6" can be changed to whatever color you want as a background ("#fee", "gray", etc).

Requirements

You must have a real browser, such as Firefox or Mozilla, or have a recent version of Internet Explorer (where it is not perfect, but works). Safari doesn't work too well at all at the moment, neither do non-recent Netscapes and Mozillas. This is their fault, not mine, not yours.

Bugs/Non-features

These may well be fixed in the near future:

  • Not yet possible to remove comments. Now possible to remove comments. Comments which can no longer attach themselves because the node has changed now remove themselves automatically.
  • I may add a feature which sends a message to a user about the comments on his node, in case said user doesn't use the tool. Done. See Blabification.
  • I may make one-click submission: ie. when you click ok, it quietly sends the annotation to the server without forcing a page reload. Done.

These will be fixed if enough people ask:

  • No user-authentification. Still no user authentification. I don't like the idea.
  • The tool attaches the comment to the first occurence of the selected text. If the selected text occurs multiple times in the node, this may produce undesired results. temporary fix: make sure the text you comment spans several words and is unique.
  • Don't include the strings :~: or :&: in your comments, just don't.
  • Don't add comments to homenodes! These will fuck stuff up when people using the tool try to edit their homenode. You can now add comments to homenodes. However if you edit your homenode which has comments, it will delete them all via an auto-submit. (i.e. it will remove them all on its own.)
These may prove difficult to fix:
  • Netscape and Safari don't display the hide link properly; temporary fix, select the text where the comment is attached and move towards the comment.
  • You can't attach a comment to text which reaches over multiple tags. (Don't select text which mixes links and non-links, bold and non-bold, etc).
  • Adding a comment to a link probably doesn't work.
  • Auto-removal does not happen in the single-wu node, but only in the (full) node.
  • Each writeup exists in two nodes: the writeup node, and the (full) node with all the writeups of that node. When you attach a comment, it only adds itself to one of them. For now, try to always add comments to the full page This was never true. Comments will attach themselves to both. However, if you attach a comment to the word "hello" of the wu node, there may be a previous wu with that word in the full node. Be wary!

Blabification?

Often, it doesn't seem worth doing any annotations, because you know that the author of the writeup doesn't have the tool and will never read the comments. However, it is very useful to put comments so that you can remember the comments you made. Now, clicking makeblabs will allow you to put all the comments in the corresponding blab box, ready for you to blab via the normal way. Nifty, huh!?

Testimonials (or who is using this tool?)

LeoDV says Cool! Took a few seconds to get the hang of it, but exceedingly cool!

TanisNikana says I'm using your tool

RPGeek says This is pretty nice although it'd be nice to see who added the note.

mr100percent says i like it!

princess loulou says this sounds great. i'll give it a go :)

CrAzE says Very cool.

ch'i-lin says Just to let you know, THIS IS THE TOOL I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR MY WHOLE LIFE!! Well, at least my life on E2....

Excalibre says this thing is f'ing awesome and when it gets popular, i suspect it'll rather revolutionize e2 in some ways

The Alchemist says I heartily endorse this product.

Noung says E2 annotation tool changed my life!

Ignis says i use teh annotator. i like it ^_^

Auduster says Hey, Stop fucking around with my Nodelet or i'll delete your damn tool.

Isogolem says I have the tool, although I don't use it much.

unperson says Brilliant! I've wanted a tool just like this for E2 for quite some time.

ariels says At last! I can scribble around on other people's stuff. Now I don't need to node any more!

Sergeant's Muse says Your annotation tool: spectacular. Very easy to use and its potential is scary cool. Thanks for making e2 better

jclast uses the annotation tool.

Lifix says The annotation tool really helps me recieve feedback about my nodes. This is very beneficial to me because of my LD.

Swap says Hey! How come I don't have a testimonial in your page! Your tool rox0rz!

sontra says I think it is pimp. Nice job.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is my notelet? Oh, right, sorry... Your notelet is a nodelet called, rather appropriately the notelet nodelet. You need to turn it on in your user settings. To find out the other uses of the notelet, go to Notelet nodelet utilities.

This is of no use if nobody else uses it, right? True, but I feel that if we have a small body of people who are mad about giving feedback, this can really help. Note also that, thanks to Blabification, you can show your comments to someone who doesn't have the tool.

How many people use the annotator? The number of people who regularly write comments is relatively small (probably fewer than the number of testimonials above). In user poll which ran in the third week of August, 2005 and which can be found in the archives, the following figures were brought to light (well, these are the results anyway):

  • At least 47 people have the annotation tool and are able to read annotations.
  • If I finally got around to fixing the problems for safari, that might add another 15
  • 27 (16%) respondants are not using it because of it being complicated.
  • The overall figures, which are pretty meaninglessly skewed towards the optimistic "show" that around 27% of respondants have the tool, 30% don't know what it is and a further 35% are aware of its existence but aren't using it.

You log us huh?! What else are you doing behind our backs? Nothing. I must warn you though: I could do a bunch of nasty things. Log the nodes you visit, record how you vote, record who makes which comments, read your message inbox.... Two things. I'm never going to do it; the people sitting on top of the e2 power structure could do the same. Only in case of abuse of the annotation tool may it become necessary for me to do more extensive logging - but this will just be in terms of sniffing your username/ip and associating it with the comments you make.


Old How section

This tool works in the notelet. You need to add the following line to your notelet for E2 Annotation Tool to work:

<div id="annotate"></div><script src="http://ic2.epfl.ch/~dyke/e/v1.php"></script>

You can then go to E2 Quick Start to make sure everything is working ok. Adding a comment is slightly complicated.

  • Check the Enable annotation adding box.
  • Select the words you want to annotate.
  • A box should appear in which you can write your comment.
  • Press ok.
  • Do this for each subsequent comment.
  • Don't forget to press the submit annotations button at the end, in order to commit your annotations to the server.

Old Prettyfication!

Let's face it, I suck at graphic design. In the basic version, your comment is identified by a thick, ugly, blue dotted line around the commented text. If this hurts your eyes, I have the solution (This is not the default because I don't know what colour your text is.). Comments can now be identified by the background color of your choice. Suppose you would like your comments to appear on a blue background. In the notelet editor modify the link to look like this:

"http://ic2.epfl.ch/~dyke/e/v1.php?c=00f"
00f can of course be replaced by the hex color of your choice. (note that hex rgb is equivalent to rrggbb).

Old Hidification!

You know how, when you want to add a comment, you have to scroll all the way to where your notelet is, check the box, scroll back, add the comment, scroll back again and submit? I know, you never add any comments, or feel the desire to, whatever! Well no more! Provided you use Firefox or some other browser which does not suck, you can add the following code. This will put the annotator in a hidden position in the top left of browser window. It will appear on mouseover. Replace the url in your nodelet with one of the following:

"http://ic2.epfl.ch/~dyke/e/v1.php?c=00f&ff=t"  if you are using the prettyfication.
"http://ic2.epfl.ch/~dyke/e/v1.php?ff=t"   if you don't want the prettyfication.