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Use Cases/Cross-formats Annotations

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As a person annotating, I want my annotations to be visible for all the representations of the target document no matter if they have different URLs and/or different layouts and formats.


Researcher John Doe annotates biomedical literature in both HTML and PDF formats. For the HTML format is using a combination of the Domeo and of the Annotator.js clients. For the PDF format is using the Utopia for PDF client.

When John opens a document with the client of choice, he needs to retrieve:

  • sometimes just the annotations for that specific URL
  • more often all the available annotations for the displayed piece of content no matter if the annotation has been generated on the document displayed at URL1 (example: PubMed Central) or at URL2 (example: Publisher website) or at URL3 (PDF in the Internet Archive).

John is happy with having the different variants of the content linked through whatever identifier (usually belonging to bibliographic metadata) is available (commonly: DOIs, PubMed IDs,…)

Existing Implementations

Open Annotation in EPUB

The Draft Specification (28 May 2014) with title Open Annotation in EPUB includes a section named '4.3.2 Publication Referencing'. The spec is based on the [http://www.openannotation.org/spec/core/20130208/index.html Open Annotation Data Model Community Draft, 08 February 2013].

     "@type": "oa:SpecificResource",
     "hasSource": {
        "@id": "http://www.example.org/ebooks/A1B0D67E-2E81-4DF5/v2.epub",
        "@type": "dctypes:Text",
        "uniqueIdentifier": "isbn:123456789x",
        "originURL": "http://www.example.com/publisher/book/", 
        "dc:identifier": [
        "dcterms:modified": "2011-01-01T12:00:00Z"

Annotopia Open Annotation Server

Current implementation details in the Annotopia Open Annotation Server

     "@type": "oa:SpecificResource",
     "hasSource": {
        "@id": "http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3102893/",
        "@type": "dctypes:Text",
        "frbr:embodimentOf" : 
           "prism:doi": "10.1186/2041-1480-2-S2-S4",


Video Demo on how cross format annotation using multiple clients works with Annotopia

Contributed by Paolo Ciccarese


  • I think this should be split out into 2 different use cases: different URLs, and different formats. --Doug Schepers (talk) 21:52, 20 September 2015 (UTC)