New Web App Feature: Export and Import – Reusing Annotations

By dwhly | 26 September, 2023

We are excited to announce a significant enhancement to the Hypothesis web annotation application: the new Export / Import feature. Simply, this capability will let you both export annotations from a page or document, as well as import annotations to a page or document.  

The Challenge

Being able to annotate and collaborate with others is powerful, but it’s also important to be able to get your discussions and notes out of the app so that they can be reused elsewhere.  For instance, where users:

  1. Have made annotations within one group and want to copy them to another.
  2. Wish to download their annotations from Hypothesis for a specific page or document.
  3. Want to move annotations between different versions of the same document.
  4. Desire to export annotations either from a specific user or from an entire conversation between all users on a particular page.

The Solution

In response we developed a new Export / Import feature feature. This feature allows users to export their annotations from one version of a document or webpage and then import them into a new version or a different webpage. For now, annotations are exported in JSON format, ensuring that the data is structured and organized, which in turn makes it easier and more accurate to transfer between different versions of a document or webpages.

Use Cases

Document Evolution: Documents are likely to undergo multiple revisions. A user might annotate a draft version with comments, suggestions, or references. When a revised version is available, the user might need to transfer those annotations to the new version without having to recreate them manually. The export/import feature facilitates this by allowing users to export annotations from the draft version and import them into the revised version.  Minor differences in the document are accommodated by our fuzzy anchoring technology.

Cross Format portability: Often multiple versions of the same document exist, PDF, HTML, EPUB, etc.  Being able to import between them allows annotations to be moved along with the document.  Of course, if the documents are asserted to be identical in metadata, that cross-linking will happen automatically.

Collaboration: Collaborators often work on different versions of a document or webpage. One collaborator might annotate a draft version, while another collaborator is working on a slightly different version. The export/import feature enables collaborators to easily share and merge their annotations by exporting them from one version and importing them into another.

When importing, note that all annotations in the JSON file will be created under the account of the current user regardless of who originally created them.

We’ll be expanding the functionality of this capability in the future with more file types and also allowing export across multiple documents.

To learn more about how to use this feature, check out this article to get started

Your feedback is invaluable to us, so please do not hesitate to reach out with any comments, questions, or suggestions. Use the form below to provide feedback, we read them all! 

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