Re: Please Support the Proposed W3C Web Annotations WG Charter

Hi, Rich–

Thanks for the update. I knew about the requirement from the Microsoft 
guys who attended the workshop. It's good to know that that use case 
will be covered; for those that control (e.g. have write control) of the 
target document, it's important to have a standard way to indicate that 
there is an annotation available (similar to "described-at", really... 
"annotated-at") so that readers can identify and navigate from and back 
to tag-marked selections (e.g., discovering that a passage marked up 
with a <span> has annotations available for it, actively navigating to 
those annotations, reading them, then navigating back to the original 

There is another use case that's equally important, and will perhaps be 
even more common: the case where the annotation is on a document where 
the annotator doesn't have write access, and the annotation is stored on 
another server, along with selectors for identifying the target passage, 
and is dynamically reanchored on demand (the distributed, Open 
Annotation model).

For some implementations, this could even be the same solution: the 
annotation engine finds the selections, and inserts <span 
class="annotation" aria-annotated-at=""> 
or <span class="annotation" aria-annotated-at="#user123_foo"> around the 
selection; that annotation is styled appropriately for sighted users as 
well. This is doable, but may be more of a brute-force approach, and has 
security and privacy issues; it also has challenges around overlapping 
element boundaries, especially elements that are themselves annotations 
(e.g. 20 people all leave annotations on the same couple of paragraphs, 
with different overlapping start and end points); it's muddled even 
further if it's a dynamic document that's being actively edited, with 
both text and element content changing, being added and removed. I 
suspect this approach won't scale terribly well for many cases, but it 
has the advantage that you can (mostly) do it today; the ARIA and 
accessibility API hooks are still pending.

For other implementations, we have in mind another solution: the 
annotation engine finds the selections, via a (hypothetical) 
find-in-page API that returns a list of ranges; these ranges are 
assigned "names" via a (hypothetical) method that instantiates them as 
CSS pseudo-elements. Because there are no DOM mutations, these 
pseudo-element ranges can overlap without any problems to either the 
annotation markers or other DOM elements, can be dynamically styled, and 
can be plugged into an accessibility API for discovery and navigation 
(albeit not using the ARIA mechanism); they can be styled in a way that 
does not cause performance problems (using a limited set of properties 
that do not affect document reflow) and is opaque to page scripts (as 
with :visited links) to decrease the privacy and security implications. 
This would scale better, and would tie in nicely with other needs of the 
Web Platform, such as a more refined find-in-page API and a 
selection/range-styling mechanism (both of which are useful for advanced 
WYSIWYG in-browser editing capabilities), but it has the disadvantage 
that it needs implementation in browsers, so it's longer-term.

I think both these approaches can live in harmony. In both cases, we'll 
need the same accessibility API hooks, the same UI and UX 
considerations, and the same high-level conceptual framework. So let's 
keep working toward that mutual goal.

And here's where I put in another shameless plug for all of you to get 
your AC rep to approve the Web Annotations WG charter [1], today, so we 
can get to work! :D



On 7/16/14 11:23 AM, Richard Schwerdtfeger wrote:
> Doug, you should know that ARIA 1.1 is adding annotations semantics to
> web pages to produce accessible annotations. This came out of
> requirements from the MS Office team working on Office cloud offerings.
> Cheers,
> Rich
> Rich Schwerdtfeger
> Inactive hide details for Doug Schepers ---07/15/2014 11:55:09 AM---Hi,
> Digital Publication IG– I'm writing you directly to asDoug Schepers
> ---07/15/2014 11:55:09 AM---Hi, Digital Publication IG– I'm writing you
> directly to ask you to support the formation of the prop
> From: Doug Schepers <>
> To:
> Date: 07/15/2014 11:55 AM
> Subject: Please Support the Proposed W3C Web Annotations WG Charter
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Hi, Digital Publication IG–
> I'm writing you directly to ask you to support the formation of the
> proposed Web Annotation Working Group. The charter is currently under
> Advisory Committee review.
> I know that annotations are of general interest to this group, so I
> don't need to tell you how important this is. If you want to see this
> work move forward, it's important that you indicate your support to help
> W3C management set priorities.
> If you're a W3C Member, to register your interest, simply fill out the
> AC review form for the Web Annotations WG charter [1]. If you are
> passionate about W3C standardizing annotations, you can also fill out
> the AC review form for the WebApps WG charter [2], and explicitly
> mention the Robust Anchoring deliverable that is a joint deliverable
> between the WebApps and Web Annotations WGs.
> Filling out both forms should only take about 5-10 minutes, and the AC
> review for the WebApps WG charter ends on Thursday, so please take some
> time now to fill out these forms. We really appreciate it.
> If you're not a W3C Member, nothing shows your support for Web
> annotations more than joining W3C now. :) But if you can't join W3C, you
> can still help by spreading the word.
> For background, back in April 2014, W3C held a Web Annotations Workshop;
> in the workshop report [3], you can read the presentation and discussion
> summaries, and watch the videos of the event.
> Some of the highlights were the importance of importance of standardized
> annotations for accessibility [4], for education, and for digital
> publishing.
> If you'd like to hear more about Web annotations, and how it might help
> your organization, please feel free to contact me, and I'd be happy to
> talk to you.
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]
> [4]
> Regards–
> –Doug Schepers (W3C)

Received on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 16:34:03 UTC