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Re: Annotea futures? Annotation standards in 2009...

From: Matthew Wilson <matthew@mjwilson.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sat, 23 May 2009 09:28:51 +0100
Message-ID: <4A17B3C3.4040408@mjwilson.demon.co.uk>
To: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
CC: www-annotation@w3.org, public-annotea-dev@w3.org, marja@annotea.org, Semantic Web <semantic-web@w3.org>, Eric Prud'hommeaux <eric@w3.org>, jose@w3.org, "Ralph R. Swick" <swick@w3.org>
Dan Brickley wrote:
> On 22/5/09 18:24, Matthew Wilson wrote:
>> Dan Brickley wrote:
>>> (I'm cc:'ing 3 lists, rather warily; if the thread gets long, please
>>> consider trimming it to just use semantic-web@w3.org)
>>> Thoughts? Am I missing some developments? What would Annotea look like
>>> if rebuilt for the Web of 2009? If it's in RDF, the query part would
>>> just use SPARQL, and topic classification would be SKOS.
>> IMO the use of RDF seems to add a significant "complexity tax" on
>> implementations.
> Worth noting, and going into the practical details. Were you working 
> solely with the Mozilla RDF APIs? XUL Templates etc? Or other more 
> modern RDF libraries?

Mozilla APIs. But I also have bad memories of debugging responses from 
the server (and trying to read the RDF Schema spec). As a non-expert, I 
see RDF in the same category as XML Schema - trying to do much and 
failing to "make the easy things easy", at least in the context of 

>>  > What else? Is
>>> there implementation experience from Annotea adopters and implementors
>>> gathered somewhere? Is there consensus for example on the best bits of
>>> information to keep if you want a robust reference to a piece of a
>>> potentially evolving page? How well do modern Web design habits (CSS,
>>> Ajax etc) interact with the overlay of 3rd party annotations? Is
>>> everyone using Firefox addons, javascript bookmarklets and Web proxies
>>> or is there some hope for a cross-browser approach on the horizon?
>> As an implementer, it seems to me that XPointer is not a great solution
>> for determining a selection of a web page. Theoretically it's only
>> specified for use with XML and not with HTML. Annotea glosses over this
>> problem, but there are real compatibility questions which I haven't seen
>> answered definitively (for example, if you have an 'implied' element not
>> present in the markup like "tbody", is it present in a constructed
>> XPointer)?
> Yup. This might be worth taking up with the HTML5 and WHATWG folks, 
> since they're trying to write a spec that has a recovery model for ugly 
> messy markup.
>>  > How well do modern Web design habits (CSS,
>>  > Ajax etc) interact with the overlay of 3rd party annotations?
>> Arguably Annozilla doesn't even work well with less modern Web design
>> (the hacks it performs in order to display icons in the document are
>> pretty horrible), but it doesn't seem to have caused many problems in
>> practice - or at least I haven't had many reported to me.
> If there aren't many problems, in what sense does it not perform well? 
> (internal Engineering uglyness, or problems that will affect users?)

Annozilla makes internal changes to the DOM so that it can add icons and 
highlighting to the document, creating spans and images. It's easy to 
imagine stylesheets or scripts breaking as a result. (I know Mozilla has 
XBL but it doesn't quite seem to fit my needs here, at least last time I 

>> My guess is that the use of Annozilla is pretty limited and that it 
>> isn't getting
>> any widespread use on any pages with significant Ajax usage. It's
>> obviously trivial to create an Ajaxy page which would expose the
>> limitations of the schema, and you would imagine that real-life usage
>> would have the same difficulties.
> Yep. Perhaps the pages that are problematic that way might also be 
> problematic in terms of assessibility, and Mobile Web -readyness too? 
> Which would at least give authors other motivations to fix their markup, 
> apart from annotate-ability.

This seems a bit optimistic.

Received on Saturday, 23 May 2009 08:29:37 UTC

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