Touchscreen Mode

With the recent updates to eMargin came the addition of a touchscreen mode. Let me just tell you a little about it.

Normally highlights would be made by dragging the mouse over the words you wish to annotate. However on touchscreen devices this isn’t possible as the drag action is normally used for scrolling. So we created an interface that instead uses a series of clicks (or touches).

First, touch the first word you wish to highlight. Then a little box pops up with options to either:
 extend your highlight
 or annotate that single word.

If you choose the later, the normal annotation box opens up. If you choose to extend your highlight, then touch the last word you wish highlight and the annotation box will appear.

You can write your comment, add tags, choose a colour and save your annotation just like normal.

If you touch an existing highlight, information about that annotation (such as tags) will be displayed and a third option will be available:
 which opens the annotation.

Finally, you can move the annotation pop-ups by touching the title bar, then touching somewhere else on the page to place the annotation there.

We plan to do further experiments with tablets, trialling eMargin in active situations where you need to carry your annotations with you, for example: actors reading their annotated script. We’ll also be thinking about other improvements that can be made to the interface for different scenarios.

(Updated 19/07/2012 with new user interface screenshots)

New Features

Today I updated the eMargin software to version 0.2. So what’s new:

  • Firstly, users can now be set up as moderators of a text. This allows them to remove comments, tags and whole annotations.
  • You can assign labels to colours. Being able to classify colours will make how they should be used clearer for groups. Text admins can also specify whether they alone can edit the colour labels or allow other users to come up with their own.
  • Histories. It’s now possible to see the history of a text, showing who has made annotations and when.
  • You can search the annotations. Annotations can found based on the text in the comments, the tags, their colour, who made them and when.
  • Users can choose how highlights are displayed, either background highlights or underlining. We’ll experiment with other views for different situations.
  • Last, but not at all least, we’ve added a touch-screen mode for making annotations. Touch-screen devices don’t allow you to drag a mouse over the text, or to drag objects around the screen, so we’ve added an alternative way to achieve those tasks.

Some of these features were part of the original outline for eMargin, and some of them are in response to user feedback. Of course there is more in the pipeline and we’ll keep developing…