Upcoming OJS release of Marginalia

Although I haven’t updated Marginalia recently, I have been working part-time on integrating it with Open Journal Systms. There are a number of improvements and new features in the OJS version:

  • Counting word offsets from the start of a document is very slow for long documents. The new version avoids this counting words from the start of the nearest preceding block of text (paragraph, list item, etc.) The old version froze my browser for minutes when I tried to add an annotation to the end of a 100 page document. The new version took a few seconds to perform the same task.
  • Loading a page with many annotations can also result in browser freezes. The new version loads annotations in the background so this won’t happen.
  • Annotation text can now be entered in one of two ways: freeform, as in the current version, or by picking from a drop-down list of terms. Terms have associated definitions which show up as hover text on the margin note. An expand/collapse button switches between the two modes while editing.
  • Rather than loading all annotations at once, they can be selectively downloaded for a specific paragraph. This feature was inspired by the stunning GPL 3 draft comments page.
  • Annotations remain plain text, but each one can have an associated hyperlink. Within OJS, these links can point to specific paragraphs in other journal articles, and can be created without fiddling with URLs by simply clicking on the target paragraph.

I haven’t uploaded a new version because the code is in flux. I’ve already broken compatibility with the old database format; I don’t want to release until I think things have stabilized. I do have a working version, but it does not support Internet Explorer. Despite this, if anyone is interested in an interim version, I would be happy to make it available.

The OJS version is made possible by Dr. Rick Kopak’s “Navigating Information Spaces” project at the University of British Columbia, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Chia-ning Chiang and John Willinsky have also been essential in getting this project off the ground. Thanks to them and to BC Campus, Andrew Feenberg’s ACT Lab and LIDC and SFU, and Malaspina College for making the existing version happen.