Technical overview

A.nnotate is web service for making and sharing notes on documents, images and web pages using a web browser. No software or plugins need to be installed - it works within the web browser and currently supports Firefox, Internet Explorer (IE8, IE7 and IE6), Safari and Chrome.

The service can be used on-line at and the full system can be installed locally on a web server running Linux or Windows (Apache or IIS) with PHP.

It can also be used as a document annotation component within existing document management systems using the integration API.

Supported formats for annotation

Documents and images can be uploaded in the following formats:

  • PDF
  • Microsoft Word (.doc and .docx)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt and .pptx)
  • Microsoft Excel (.xls and .xlsx)
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf)
  • OpenOffice documents and spreadsheets

For annotating web pages, you can enter the URL and have A.nnotate make an annotatable snapshot. You can also add a button to the browser that makes an A.nnotate snapshot of the page you are currently viewing.

Annotation and display options

Three text annotation modes are supported: highlight, insert and strikethrough. Once the target text has been selected, you can leave it as it is (marked but not annotated) or attach tags or notes. All marked text is included in the user's global index and the index for that document.

Notes are marked with the author, date and time and have a user-selectable background color. They can be displayed in three styles:

  • Movable boxes above the marked text
  • In the right-hand margin
  • As footnotes

Standalone images or images within documents can be annotated with rectangular and dotted oval regions. The border style and color can be set by the user for each annotation.

Document management

A.nnotate provides tags and folders to organize documents and standard file handling options (move, rename, etc). Folders can be viewed as a detailed list of documents and sub-folders or as thumbnails showing the first page of each document.

For managing workflow and the document lifecycle, documents can be closed for comments. The document owner can also predefine a set of tags to be used and set whether other users are allowed to define new tags.

Group use and document collaboration

Documents are private by default, but can be shared with invited users. Users can reply to existing notes and add new ones. Folders can also be shared so that all authorized users can see new documents in a folder. The latest changes are shown on each user's home page, and optional email notifications can be set up to alert users of new documents in shared folders or new notes on documents they are monitoring.

Indexing and search

Plain text search is supported within documents and on the documents and notes indexes. Documents and notes can also be filtered and ordered by tags.

Language and character set support

Unicode is supported for annotations and document metadata.

The user interface is currently in English. If you are interested in other languages for the standalone server, please get in touch.

User system requirements

For hosted solutions, all you need is a web browser. Supported browsers include:

  • Firefox   (Windows, Linux, Mac OSX)
  • Internet Explorer (IE8, IE7 or IE6)
  • Safari
  • Chrome

Server system requirements

Standalone servers require Linux, Windows or Mac OSX with a web server (Apache or IIS) and PHP.

The main server-side code is PHP which runs either directly on the server or within a servlet that provides the PHP interpreter. As such it can be ported to other environments relatively easily. Please get in touch if you are interested in running A.nnotate in a configuration that is not mentioned above.