Web Annotation Working Group

A detailed list of this group's publications and their status is available in the working group's specification repository.

The W3C Web Annotation Working Group is chartered to develop a set of specifications for an interoperable, sharable, distributed Web annotation architecture. The chartered specs consist of:

  1. Abstract Annotation Data Model
    1. Web Annotation Data Model spec
  2. Data Model Vocabulary
  3. Data Model Serializations
    1. Web Annotation Protocol spec
  5. Client-side API

The working group intends to use the Open Annotation Data Model and Open Annotation Extension specifications, from the W3C Open Annotation Community Group, as a starting point for development of the data model specification.

The Robust Link Anchoring specification will be jointly developed with the WebApps WG, where many client-side experts and browser implementers participate.

This group works in public, with details in the WG's Work Mode document and the WG's Wiki.

The W3C Web Annotation Working Group is part of the W3C Digital Publishing Activity, but the scope is more than just publishing; Web annotation is for all content on all devices.

The W3C Team Contacts for the Web Annotation Working Group are Ivan Herman. The Co-Chairs of the Working Group are Tim Cole ( University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Robert Sanderson (Stanford University).



Upcoming Meetings

Past Meetings

Monday–Tuesday, 26-27 October 2015 – Sapporo, Japan

The third face-to-face (f2f) meeting of the Web Annotation WG will be at W3C's TPAC (Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee) Meetings Week, in Sapporo, Japan.

For working group members interested in attending, please complete the registration form.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014 – Santa Clara, California

The first face-to-face (f2f) meeting of the Web Annotation WG will be at W3C's TPAC (Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee) Meetings Week, in Santa Clara, California, USA. The entire event will take place 27-31 October 2014, and will involve meetings with most of the active W3C working groups. See the agenda for more details.

In addition, there will be a joint session with the WebApps WG on the Robust Anchoring API on Monday 27 October at 16:00–16:30.

Dan Whaley of Hypothes.is will present an introduction to the new annotations work at 13:30 on Tuesday to the Advisory Committee.

There is no annotation topic yet proposed for the Plenary session on Wednesday, but one might be proposed ad hoc.


First Public Working Draft: Web Annotation Data Model

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The Web Annotation Working Group has published a First Public Working Draft of Web Annotation Data Model. Annotations are typically used to convey information about a resource or associations between resources. Simple examples include a comment or tag on a single web page or image, or a blog post about a news article. The Web Annotation Data Model specification describes a structured model and format to enable annotations to be shared and reused across different hardware and software platforms. Learn more about the Digital Publishing Activity.

W3C Launches Web Annotation Working Group

W3C announced today the launch of the Web Annotation Working Group. Annotating, which is the act of creating associations between distinct pieces of information, is a widespread activity online in many guises but currently lacks a structured approach. Web citizens make comments about photos, videos, audio tracks, people's posts on social media, or data, but these comments are stuck in silos. The mission of the Web Annotation Working Group, part of the Digital Publishing Activity, is to define a generic data model for authoring and sharing annotations, and define the basic infrastructural elements to make it deployable in browsers and reading systems through suitable user interfaces. See the Web Annotation Working Group Charter for more information.

Web Annotations on the Horizon

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Annotation, the act of creating associations between distinct pieces of information, is a widespread activity online in many guises but currently lacks a structured approach. People comment about online resources using tools built into the hosting web site, external web services, or the functionality of an annotation client. When reading eBooks, people make use the tools provided by reading systems to add and share their thoughts or highlight portions of texts. Comments about photos, videos, and audio tracks, questions or clarifications about data, maps, and social media posts or mentions are all forms of annotation.

However, annotation currently lacks a structured approach. Comments are siloed inside the blog or comment system hosted and controlled by the publisher of the original document, or inside an eBook reader. They aren’t readily available for syndication or aggregation, and it’s difficult to find more comments by an insightful author if they are scattered around different places on the web. Worthwhile commentary is obscured by trolling, spam, or trivial comments. These are challenges both social and technical.

In April, W3C convened a Workshop on Annotations to discuss these challenges. Today W3C published a Workshop summary with links to slides, videos, and position papers.

Today W3C also invites review of a draft charter for a new Web Annotation Working Group based on the Workshop discussion. The group will develop an open approach for annotation, making it possible for browsers, reading systems, JavaScript libraries, and other tools, to develop an annotation ecosystem where users have access to their annotations from various environments, can share those annotations, can archive them, and use them how they wish.

The public is invited to comment on the draft charter.

Upcoming Workshop on Web Annotations: Footnotes, comments, bookmarks, and marginalia on the Web

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W3C announced today a workshop on digital annotations for the Web, part of our ongoing effort on enhancing the Web experience.

Annotating is the act of creating associations between distinct pieces of information. Annotation is a ubiquitous activity online in many guises: comments on articles, footnotes, sticky notes, “hot spots” on images, timestamped notes on video or audio tracks, highlighted text passages in ebook readers, evocative pictures attached to song lyrics, quotes and links on social media, and even tagged bookmarks, are all forms of annotation. One of the most common and engaging Web activities for the average person is discussion of a document or piece of media.

Many projects and companies are now turning to annotations to solve a variety of issues with communication on the Web, and is of particular interest to the education, research, and digital publishing industries. To address these needs, W3C’s Web Annotations workshop will focus on identifying standardization priorities for chartering a potential Web Annotation Working Group, on such topics as:

  • Robust anchoring to dynamic third-party documents
  • Styling selections and annotations
  • Data models
  • Federation and syndication
  • Web storage and management of annotations
  • Client side APIs and methods for the implementation of annotation systems
  • Practical experience with annotation systems
  • Annotation of data

W3C membership is not required to participate. The event is open to all, but all participants are required to submit a position paper or statement of interest by 28 February 2014.