[Bookreader] Annotations is read activity

Sayamindu Dasgupta sayamindu at gmail.com
Fri Nov 20 14:04:40 EST 2009

On Sat, Nov 21, 2009 at 12:04 AM, Andreas Gros <info at andreasgros.net> wrote:
> dear all,
> about annotations in ebooks/pdfs:
> what do you think would be the best place to integrate that?
> there's one option of integrating annotations into evince (option 1) and
> one option of integrating that into the read activity itself as a module
> (option 2). are there more?
> as we want to exchange annotations and comments we need (for both
> options) some standard format for doing so (preferably some xml flavor).
> did you have something in mind already?
> now about the options:
> option 1:
> pros:
> - larger community support because also the gnome folks want to do
> something in this direction [1]
> - possibly easier of integration of the annotations into the "work" (pdf
> or ebook)
> cons:
> - solution gets locked in into evince
> - evince also needs to get a "give me your/take these annotation data"
> interface so that annotations can be exchanged
> - one has to get into the evince development process
> option 2:
> pros:
> - possibly easier development -- as python could be used; e.g. use
> something like a SVG python rendering engine on a "glass layer" on top
> of the actual "work" (pdf/ebook) to implement that; so that annotations
> and comments can become independent of the "work" and can be shared
> easily but maintain a spatial reference to the actual text they refer
> to; SVG could then still be integrated into the PDF in one of its
> metadata fields (needs to be tested).
> -SVG could also serve as an exchange format directly
> cons:
> - have to implement some assurance mechanism that the annotations
> actually apply to a certain manifestation of a work as once annotations
> become rather independent from a manifestation of that work they tend to
> live a life of their own.
> - text highlighting becomes rather difficult as a spatial reference to
> the line of text in the manifestation needs to be established, for which
> one would have to interface with evince again.
> please feel free to send your input on this. i also would like to put
> this on some wiki or another. is there a good place for doing so? the
> last input on this one: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Read, has been given
> some time ago.
> thanks a lot!

Hmm - I just sent a reply to you on the other thread :-). As for
format - we are currently storing annotations into sqlite databases
(the reason being that I want to make it easier later on to search
through annotations, and at that moment, using sqlite seemed to be the
best choice). Your thoughts about a SVG layer sounds promising, but it
may be tricky to implement, given various zoom-levels, reflowing text,
etc etc.

One semi-crazy idea of mine was to allow editable ebooks (at least for
EPUB). That is actually quite easily done. I see editing support as
"annotation on steriods" (you can highlight, italicize, insert your
own comments at random positions, etc etc) - and of course, I would
have also made sure that there was a way to rollback to the original
pristine edition of the ebook if one wanted to.

PS: Regarding the wiki - I think we should use
http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Activities/Read as much as possible. Much
of the relevant sugar and sugar activity related information has
already been migrated to wiki.sugarlabs.org, and I think maintaining
the wiki.laptop.org/Read page would just add to the confusion.

Sayamindu Dasgupta

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