Zotero 5.0.97-beta - Other PDF readers don't show comments made on Zotero PDF reader

I made some highlights and notes in a PDF file using Zotero PDF. Other PDF readers are not displaying comments and highlights made on Zotero PDF. I tried: Foxit Reader, Acrobat and Preview (macbook).
  • @adamsmith thanks. I read the topic you indicated. I didn't like the fact that the annotations made in this reader cannot be read in other PDF readers. I think it's important that annotations are universally available. Or offer the possibility that in the mobile Zotero app it is possible to create annotations and hightlights with another PDF app.
  • It doesn’t sound like you really read that section.
  • edited 24 days ago
    Agreeing with @dariokaji - sounds like a lock-in problem and I will not be able to use the new PDF editor (which I would love to use) if it is not possible to store edits to PDF as default.

    From my understanding I can export the PDF with annotations and then would have to re-add that PDF to zotero to get to the desired state, which sounds really cumbersome.
  • edited 24 days ago
    I mean, it's literally not a lock-in problem. That's the entire point of that section.

    As it says, you'll always be able to take your annotations and move them out of Zotero, but we can't provide the experience we want to provide with annotations stored in the file. Storing annotations in the Zotero database is necessary for all sorts of functionality, now and in the future, that will make Zotero's PDF reader different from every other PDF reader out there.
    From my understanding I can export the PDF with annotations and then would have to re-add that PDF to zotero to get to the desired state, which sounds really cumbersome.
    We've said that it may be possible in a future version to do a one-way transfer of annotations between the Zotero DB and the PDF file (or vice versa), deleting the source annotations. What we can't do reliably is have annotations stored both in the Zotero DB and also in the PDF, with the possibility of external edits at any time — doing so would be error-prone and risk duplicates and conflicts.
  • @dstillman I read the session. I realized that it is possible to take the notes and move them out of Zotero. However, annotations made in Zotero are not incorporated into PDF, which is a universal format used for many years. For this reason, I will not use the annotations feature by the Zotero PDF reader. I prefer to continue using the form @augustaugust quoted: via plugin (Zotfile). Although this form is more laborious, the annotations remain in the PDF file.
  • @dariokaji: It sounds like you still may be misunderstanding this. It's not that you can "take the notes" out of Zotero. You can export PDFs with your highlights and notes embedded in the file as standard PDF annotations, whenever you want to. It's just that, while you're using Zotero, there are major benefits to having the annotations stored in the Zotero database. If you want to continue using external PDF readers while using Zotero for other reasons, that's fine, but data portability is absolutely not a reason to do so.
  • Just as a word of caution, there's a good chance that ZotFile's extract annotation feature will stop working in the future. Not on purpose, obviously, but the plugin is not very actively maintained and would likely require a fair amount of work with the new note editor, work that I'd expect most users would not find all that useful anymore given the built-in annotation capabilities.
  • @dstillman yes, you are right, it is possible to export a PDF file containing the Zotero notes. I also understand that there may be reasons that justify Zotero keeping the notes separate. However, the ideal is that this incorporation of annotations into the PDF would occur automatically, without having to export each annotation made in the file. I think the possibility of having a Zotero Mobile is a big step forward, and I also recognize the speed with which the application is working. I just commented as a reflection for future improvements.
    @adamsmith it is an excellent observation. It is possible that this will happen in the future.
  • Thanks for elaborating. My objection is having direct access and being able to share all files with annotations as needed. So whenever doing that I would have to export all relevant files 1 by 1. Will go with the suggested workflow and see how it works for me.
  • (not sure if that's just a typo, but you wouldn't need to export 1 by 1 -- you can export them all in one step)
  • @dstillman and @adamsmith What would be your suggested workflow if I wanted to make annotations on my android tablet, and then later revise them and continue working on my zotero laptop? Perhaps to return once more to work on the android tablet?
  • edited 13 days ago
    @dstillman wrote, "We've said that it may be possible in a future version to do a one-way transfer of annotations between the Zotero DB and the PDF file (or vice versa), deleting the source annotations. What we can't do reliably is have annotations stored both in the Zotero DB and also in the PDF, with the possibility of external edits at any time — doing so would be error-prone and risk duplicates and conflicts."

    I understand the concern about conflicts. I just got the PDF reader working and tried it. It appears to me that when I open a PDF with externally made annotations, that Zotero reads the annotations from the PDF and writes them to the Zotero DB.

    If this is the case, I don't understand the problem with making a setting to allow users to automatically write their annotations to the PDF every time they close the Zotero PDF reader tab. Couldn't it work like this: Zotero has annotations in its DB for a PDF. If the user has added some annotations externally, Zotero doesn't know about them, but that's not a big deal for the moment. User opens the PDF with new annotations. Zotero wipes the existing PDF annotations it has stored in the database (every time it opens a PDF, without checking for any changes) and overwrites them with the annotations stored in the PDF. It would be a performance hit, but it doesn't seem to take long to scan most PDFs, and for some people, being able to reliably read and add annotations to PDFs from outside Zotero would definitely be worth it.
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