New Feature of Nuxeo 5.2M4 - Annotations


Wed 04 February 2009 By ismith

Annotations may, in fact, rock!

If you haven't played with
the 5.2 milestone 4 release. yet, you should! There are some amazingly cool
new things in there; I'm going to be trying to get through some of them this
week--despite all my packing for my upcoming move!

If you aren't
aware, there has been a work in progress with the W3C for some time create a standard called Annotea. The idea of this
standard is to have inter-operable annotations on web pages (really URLs).
So, being an open-source and generally standards-following sort of company,
we used that standard to build this new feature into Nuxeo 5.2. That said,
we had to extend it in some pretty cool ways to make it work well within
nuxeo.

Previews

This should be the subject of a separate blog
entry, but I'll put a bit here since you access annotations through the
preview system. When you look at a document through the web UI now, you'll
see a "preview" tab. This tab, based on how you configure the system,
generates some HTML based on the content of the document--but without
downloading it. What HTML it generates is configurable based on what its
mime type is or what type of document "type" it is inside nuxeo. Don't
worry, it's all totally down with the document model so it can understand
documents that have multiple underlying files, documents that supply their
own previews inside the document itself, etc.

Anyway, let's try it
out:

???

In the image above,
you see the first attempt by the new president of the United States
to take the oath of office (more on that in a second!) on January 20th. You
can see the first lady, the first kids, the president-elect Barack Obama,
and the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.

(You should
also note that you view the image and all its associated image
metadata--like the data embedded in jpegs generated by digital
cameras--through some of the other tabs above.)

You should notice two
small icons left of the image. The first is the small "eye" in the upper
left and the small triangle just to the left of the bottom of the image. The
little triangle is an "open and close" gizmo for closing or opening up the
annotation content.

I'm not too good with the names of the first kids,
so I'm going to put an annotation on the image to see if somebody can help
me. I do this by selecting a region of the image with my mouse and I get
this:

???

In the comment box
I type my question and then click "Submit." The result is this:

???

The "eye" control in the upper left
turns off the highlighting of the regions in the image if you don't want to
see the annotated regions.

So, I had some fun at the chief justice's
expense. I added another annotation, just like before but this time to the
face area of justice Roberts. Once I submitted this annotation, I then
rolled my mouse over this "hot region" of the image and got this:

???

Playing With Text

Up to
this point, I've been talking about images, so we were really in an area not
specified by the Annotea spec. Much better covered, at least by the Annotea
folks, is text. Let's trying doing something similar, this time with the
text of the oath of office, which I've uploaded into Nuxeo. I uploaded flat
text and got this in my preview tab:

???

You may think you know where this
going....ok, you probably do. It works in a similar way to the image
one:

???

By the way: If your
instance of Nuxeo has a copy of open office installed and in use for format
conversion you can annotate a ton of different document
formats...

Relations and Audit

So, you think you're a hot-shot
because you guessed how it would with text, huh?

But did you guess that it actually works, under the covers, using the Nuxeo relations system? It uses the mechanism of linking documents to link the annotations to the source document. If you want to download the file, you can get a "wad" that includes annotations and other associations.

Anybody out there a big fan of the Adobe PDF annotation tool (70 USD?) and want to comment on how it compares? Does Adobe have an annotation server? They have some text that references their "linkbase" but I couldn't find anything of substance... ?"

I also have it on good authority (e.g. I talked to the developers!) that all the usual Nuxeo auditing capabilities will be available when this annotation system is shipped in the first Release Candidate.


is this cool or what?


Category: Product & Development