Sep 7, 2010

One Easy Way Writers and Artists Can Annotate Web Pages on Safari

I'm a writer and a thinker. And I'm sure if you read my blog, you probably enjoy writerly kind of things. So you get me when I say a writer needs tools. Right?

Well, I don't know about you but we writers love to mark up anything we read. A writer friend told me he practically "eats" his books with pencil marks and ink.
Enter the internet age.


How is a writer supposed to mark up the World Wide Web?


Coda Notes



If you use Apple Safari to browse the web a newer feature has been added that Firefox has been doing for ages. A highly useful extension is Coda Notes. If you've never used extensions before, you should read this article. Safari has thousands of extensions. Coda Notes is just one of them.


Extensions


Apple has allowed third party developers to create nifty extensions, similar to what Firefox has been doing for ages, called Add-ons.


Extensions are added features a user can install on a web browser to add functionality or improve productivity. Think of them like adding cool new gadgets to a carpenter's existing utility belt. Extensions are like cool tools because they do not usually take up to much space on your hard drive, and they really can help you out to do basic tasks.


Where can I get extensions?


Apple allows users to browse its extensions at the Safari Extension Gallery. You can find extensions to check your gmail for you or to read updates from a Twitter feed.


Extensions are free, by the way. And you can download as many as you want to in Safari.


One extension I found highly useful from Panic is Coda Notes.


What is Coda Notes?


Coda Notes is a creative and productivity solution that allows users to take a web page and add post-it notes to it, highlight passages, insert text, and pretty much mark up the page how you want.


Why is Coda Notes useful?


Apart from the graffiti effect, I find Coda Notes very helpful when I am reading an article on the web closely and I want to take notes while I read.


I'm sure it would be also useful for web designers who need to make comments about web pages. Also, teachers could use it to lecture and take notes if they are referring to a content rich web page using a smart board.


Instead of opening up an external word processor, I can activate Coda Notes and mark up the document with my thoughts, reactions, etc. I can even e-mail my annotations to a friend via email, or save the file to my computer.


Very cool!






How does it work?


Safari puts its extensions as a small icon in the upper left hand corner of the browser. Whenever you want to use Coda Notes, click the icon that looks like a leaf. The interface is simple. Six icons appear on the top left hand side of the page. And two icons appear on the right.


The least useful is the drawing pen. You use it to draw stuff on top of the web page. It could be useful for a demonstration or a class room lecture, but I find drawing with my mouse to be mostly inaccurate so I tend to shy away from the pen feature.


A highlighter pen highlights text yellow, red, purple, etc.


An eraser gets rid of mistakes.


The text tool actually allows you to insert text into the web page! Amazing. I love this feature because I can now proofread and add corrections as I read. A great tool for collaboration.


The sticky feature is my favorite. If I want to add a note to a page I click the sticky note button and a yellow sticky note appears. If I want to move the sticky, I just drag it across the page. I can add my text as a note to myself, or as a general note to whomever I may be sending the page to later. Or I can use it to annotate images by placing the sticky on the graphic or image I want to comment.


Use the X button if you want to clear the board and start over again from scratch.


Two final buttons are on the far right of the browser. The cancel and the send notes button.


The cancel button clears the page and closes Coda Notes.


Send notes is a useful feature to share your graffito with friends, colleagues, students, and family. Clicking on send notes flips the Safari interface around and allows the user to append a message and select recipient's email(s) as well as your own originating address. The option is also available to Cc the message to yourself.


One Caveat


Coda Notes is useful when the user does not need to scroll down. If the page is too long, it is impossible to move the page further note when Coda Notes is running. Hopefully, this will be fixed in future updates.


To my knowledge there is not a version for Firefox or Chrome. :-(


If you use Coda Notes let us know about your experience.


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