[whatwg] Allowing authors to annotate their documents to explain things for readers
ian at hixie.ch
Fri May 8 20:30:35 PDT 2009
One of the use cases I collected from the e-mails sent in over the past
few months was the following:
USE CASE: Allow authors to annotate their documents to highlight the key
parts, e.g. as when a student highlights parts of a printed page, but in a
* Fred writes a page about Napoleon. He can highlight the word Napoleon
in a way that indicates to the reader that that is a person. Fred can
also annotate the page to indicate that Napoleon and France are
This use case isn't altogether clear, but if the target audience of the
annotations is human readers (as opposed to machines and readers using
automated processing tools), then it seems like this is already possible
in a number of ways in HTML5.
The easiest way of addressing this is just to include text bringing the
user's attention to relationships:
<p>This page is about Napoleon. He was my uncle and lived in
Individual keywords can be highlighted with <b>:
<p>This page is about <b>Napoleon</b>. He was my uncle and lived in
Prose annotations can be added to individual words or phrases using the
<p>This page is about <span title="A person">Napoleon</span>. He was my
uncle and lived in <span title="A hamlet near Drummond, in Idaho,
These typically show as tooltips.
To highlight material on the page that might be relevant to the user, e.g.
if the user searched for the word "Uncle" and the site wanted to highlight
the word "Uncle", the <mark> element can be used:
<p>This page is about Napoleon. He was my <mark>uncle</mark> and lived
The same element can be used by a reader editing an existing document to
highlight the parts that warrant further study, possibly using the
title="" attribute to include notes:
<p>This page is about Napoleon. He was my uncle and <mark
title="really?">lived in France</mark>.</p>
Links can be used to link parts of a document together to indicate
<p id="napoleon">My uncle was called Napoleon. See also: <a
href="#france">France</a>, <a href="#uncle">Uncle</a>.</p>
<p id="france">France is a hamlet near Drummond, ID. My uncle lived
there. See also: <a href="#napoleon">Napoleon</a>.</p>
In conclusion, this use case doesn't seem to need any new changes to the
A number of further use cases remain to be examined, including some more
specifically looking at machine-readable annotations rather than
annotations aimed directly at human readers. I will send further e-mail
next week as I address them.
Ian Hickson U+1047E )\._.,--....,'``. fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/ U+263A /, _.. \ _\ ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer. `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
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