[annotator-dev] Annotator plugin for Wordpress, a first progress report

Andrea Fiore andrea.giulio.fiore at googlemail.com
Thu Jun 2 09:38:23 UTC 2011

Hi everyone,

As announced, here is my report about the progress of the Wordpress 
Annotator plugin project I have been working on in the last few days.

I have just completed a first 0.1 version of the plugin providing the 
following features:

- Automatic injection of the Annotator JavaScript code into the 
currently active Wordpress theme with no need of manually editing the 
theme’s HTML.

- Option to configure, through a CSS3 selector, the portion of the 
document in which the Annotator widget should be embedded.

- Option to decide whether to show only authenticated users’ annotations 
or to show also annotations made by anonymous users.

- A rudimentary regular expressions based mechanism for configuring in 
what pages/blog sections the Annotator widget should be included.

Again, code is located at: https://github.com/okfn/annotator-wordpress/

and a demo page with the plugin in action can be seen here: 

(the second one is likely to change, please refer to the README file for 
up to date URLs).

While finishing up this first coding iteration, I have also taken note 
into the GitHub issues section 
(https://github.com/okfn/annotator-wordpress/issues) of a number of 
possible features that I am considering to add next. This is by no mean 
a definitive road map for the project, and I am absolutely open to 
critiques, comments, and feature requests.

In short, I think the most urgent feature to implement is a more 
granular and user friendly system for configuring what sections of the 
blog should be annotable and what should not (see issue #6 for details).

Another design issue that probably should be addressed - or at least on 
which I need to get my head around - is how blog annotations should be 
moderated (see issue #3). Bloggers are already used to moderate comments 
on their blogs and I assume they will expect to do exactly the same with 
inline annotations. I guess what we need is a way to discriminate 
between annotations explicitly created and displayed through the blog 
(which I think blog owners should be able to moderate) and annotations 
displayed through a browser-based mechanism such as the bookmarklet 
(which I think blog owners should not be able to moderate).

I am aware that several of you have been working on the annotator since 
some time now, and I imaging that this latter issue might be one that 
you have already discussed and addressed. If this is the case, please 
let me know how should I approach the problem :)

Finally, I would like to look a bit more deeply into possible usage 
scenarios and user groups for the Wordpress plugin and the Annotator in 
general. Mark has pointed me at the excellent Digress / CommentPress, 
which has been used already in a number of collaborative writing 
projects such as Write to Reply, as well as New York Public Library ‘s 
Candidate 2.0, and Consumer International ‘s A2K.

As Rufus has argued, the Annotator has the advantage over Digress of 
being layout agnostic and of allowing to annotate smaller content units 
than just paragraphs. Moreover, the Annotator is based on a more 
sophisticated architecture which is open ended and easy to extend one 
both the client and the server side.

However, I think that one job Digress actually does better than the 
Annotator is to provide a way of navigating and filtering the 
annotations that actually facilitates a rich conversation between users. 
For instance, try compare the way inline annotations are organised on 
the Future of the Book’s Iraq Study Group Report 
(http://www.futureofthebook.org/iraqreport/) with the way they are 
organised in the Openshakespeare website.

I have not looked yet into the Annotator’s filter bar Plugin 
(https://github.com/okfn/annotator/wiki/Filter-Plugin), but I imagine 
that pushing the design and the development of this component a bit 
further is perhaps one of the next major steps for the core JavaScript 
annotator library.



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