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The Annotator – Preview

- May 12, 2011 in Annotator, News, Releases, Technical

In November 2010, Rufus Pollock announced the Annotator project on the OKFN blog. Since this initial release the project has been developed into a fully fledged product. The Annotator is a JavaScript widget that can be added to any webpage to allow inline annotation of its contents. Combined with a storage system, such as AnnotateIt, this allows online collaboration on all forms of HTML documentation, literature and articles.
Annotator 1 Annotator 3 Annotator 4


Updated interface

Making use of the latest web technologies, we’ve refined the interface to be more intuitive for the user. Annotations will always try and display inside the window and the comment editor can now be resized and repositioned to suit.

Simple to install

Once the Annotator library code has been included, the Annotator can be added to your website in just one more line of JavaScript: var content = jQuery(‘#content-to-annotate’).annotator();

Pluggable architecture

The Annotator itself is a just a small piece of code that manages the annotations. It can then be extended with plugins to enhance its functionality. A broad range of plugins can be created. Examples bundled with the Annotator include tagging, permissions and a store for interfacing with an external database to save annotations. Add plugins to your webpage with just one more line of code: content.annotator(‘addPlugin’, ‘Tags’).annotator(‘addPlugin’, ‘Store’);


The Annotator Store plugin can be tailored to talk to any backend but to make things really easy we’ve created AnnotateIt, a simple web service for storing your annotations. This is currently a closed Beta and you can sign up for an account to test it out here. On the other hand if you’re feeling creative you can build your own store. The Annotator uses a very simple JSON based protocol that can be implemented in any language. The AnnotateIt source code is available on GitHub for guidance.


AnnotateIt also allowed us to build a bookmarklet that allows you to inject the Annotator into any webpage and begin annotating immediately. The next time you visit the webpage simply reload the bookmarklet to have all your annotations restored. This makes it easy to separate editorial control over content from control over commentary.

Find out more

If we’ve piqued your interest please head on over to and sign up for a free account. We’re very excited to see what can be done with the project and are seeking feedback to continue to improve the product. To get in touch just drop us an email at annotator [at] okfn [dot] org. If you’re interested in adding the Annotator to your own site or developing a plugin then our GitHub page is the place to go. Here you can download the latest Annotator source code and browse the wiki for details on getting started.

Useful Links

Related posts:
  1. Open-Source Annotation Toolkit for Inline, Online Web Annotation
  2. Latest Developments on Open Shakespeare (v0.8)
  3. Porting Marginalia Annotation to Python