May 21st, 2004


userinfo senji
2004/05/21 09:54:00 - Thought from the coalface
Something I'd like is a piece of software which lets me modify an existing document by annotation, as if I were proofreading a document.
Current Mood: [mood icon] thoughtful

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userinfo simont
[userpic]
2004/05/21 02:01:22
Any kind of document in particular?

PDF is supposed to support this - it has explicit support in the file format for clearly marked annotations, and I think Acrobat Reader might even let you create them. Unfortunately, you can only save them by saving a modified copy of the PDF, and although in principle you ought to later be able to separate the annotations from the original text, in practice it's a pain.

Presumably it would be a useful design goal to have the annotations saved in a separate file alongside the original document, so that you could remove them all in one go if you needed to, or so that you could read your annotation file and make sure you'd done something about every annotation you'd made?
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userinfo senji
[userpic]
2004/05/21 02:17:13
Well, the kinds of document that I usually deal with are basically just text, and it's SPaG that I want correcting, but I can see that you might want to make similar corrections to laid-out documents.

Some form of LaTeX would probably suit me very well, but possibly not the other people that I deal with! :)
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userinfo emperor
[userpic]
2004/05/21 03:48:28
diff -u ?

That's what I tend to use
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userinfo senji
[userpic]
2004/05/21 04:03:21
diff output is, I find, quite hard to read for minor changes, and really annoying when your change has caused paragraphs to be repaginated.

Also, it's not suited to comments like "this doesn't flow right", "consider using a different word here" and "which is the correct capitalisation".
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userinfo simont
[userpic]
2004/05/21 06:14:34
really annoying when your change has caused paragraphs to be repaginated

Surely "rewrapped"? "Repaginated" is about breaking a long sequence of lines into pages, not breaking a long sequence of words into lines.

</pedant>

Anyway, what I was going to say was: when How To Report Bugs Effectively got published on Freshmeat, they got an editor to meddle with it first, and before it was published he sent me his diffs in an interesting format that ignored paragraph wrapping. A typical example paragraph might be:

Give the programmer some credit for basic [-intelligence: if-] [+intelligence. If+] the program really didn't work at all, [-they-] [+he+] would probably have noticed. Since [-they haven't-] [+he hasn't+] noticed, it must be working for [-them.-] [+him.+] Therefore, either you are doing something [-differently from them,-] [+differently,+] or your environment is different from [-theirs. They need-] [+his. He needs+] information; providing this information is the purpose of a bug report. More information is almost always better than less.

This is still a little hard to read, but with some colourful highlighting using SGR sequences I think it would become entirely workable. I don't know what software he used to produce this form of diff, but I'd imagine you could fake it up reasonably easily by the simple approach of

  • Reformat both versions of the document so that every space is replaced with a newline, so that every word appears on its own line.
  • Use "diff -u9999" to highlight the particular words that have changed. (If you pick a suitably large value of 9999, you get the full document rather than just the region surrounding each change, which might be helpful. I keep being annoyed that diff doesn't support an explicit "infinity" argument to the -u option.)
  • Rewrap the paragraphs back to something resembling their original state. While you're doing that, note lines (words) that start with a "+" or "-" as a result of the diff, and reformat them to use the "[-foo-]" / "[+foo+]" notation, or any other notation you prefer.

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(Anonymous)
2004/05/21 03:45:47
swm11 (my DoS) has an app for his (touch screen) tablet, that lets him annotate PDFs with handwriting. Its very cool. You get emailed back a PDF that looks like he has printed it and written on by hand, then scanned it in again.

--
mjj29
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userinfo requiem_17_23
[userpic]
2004/05/21 05:07:26
My father has a similar thing for one of his shiny gadgets he uses for work. It's a Microsoft app, I think it's connected to the very latest Office or something like that. It's shiny but Microsofty - a bit irritating if you don't like their style. I'm sure there are similar things available somewhere for other OSes or user interface preferences.
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userinfo antinomy
2004/05/21 05:07:26
I hear it's evil proprietary tablet-pc software, though. Shame, something like that would suit me, my Mac, and my graphics tablet rather nicely :)
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userinfo teleute
[userpic]
2004/05/21 09:27:42
Tablet has something like this, if you mean that you want to annotate in handwriting (or with stars, squiggles and circles, whcih is my style of editting). I'm not sure what happens if you then send it on to someone who doesn't have the same software though - tablet to tablet the annotations remain flexible, but I imagine that other software would either freeze the writing as images, or delete them all together. Irrespective, it's remarkably cool.
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