Feature request: Add annotations for web pages

edited May 4, 2021
The PDF annotation features are in the beta preview are fantastic, and it would be super useful to be able to annotate HTML pages in the same interface.

When I do research, I often find useful material/articles both in the form of PDFs and HTML pages. Although these are technically very different storage formats, they are often similar content-wise (e.g. text article with images) and being able to view and annotate them in the same manner would be advantageous from a user perspective in my opinion.

While there are existing tools such as hypothesis (https://web.hypothes.is/) and memex (https://getmemex.com/) to annotate the web which also work to some extent with local files, it would be great to have a local annotated copy of both HTML page snapshots and their annotations (highlights, comments, notes) instead of relying on an online service. Having that said, I also see value (and potentially saved development time) in hooking into an existing tool, so I think either could work as long as the capabilities for annotations and creating notes are similar within the Zotero interface.

I previously suggested a conversion to PDF as a solution for annotating web pages, but my takeaway from the discussions there are that Zotero is more likely to support HTML annotations directly, so I am opening this thread to track this feature as well as collect tips on current workarounds (previous discussion https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/81185/feature-request-optionally-save-web-pages-as-pdf-and-a-list-of-tools-that-might-help).
  • I would love to see this feature also. I use diigo (www.diigo.com) for highlighting and taking notes on th e web pages. That would be useful if Zotero also has these features.
  • i would really love a workflow for annotating web page text that does not require conversion to PDF. ideally this workflow would allow for extraction of highlighted text and annotations into a separate note as zotfile has done with PDFs for ages and as the beta now does.

    my current workaround is to copy webpage text into a note file and use the rtf editor to highlight. this mostly works, albeit lacking the ability to extract annotations to a new note.

    I have been wondering if zotero could scrape and clean web page text like OneNote web clipper or instapaper or some browsers' reading modes do. for OneNote it's possible to specify whether to capture the whole page or to look for an 'article' and just extract that text and not all the other navigation and garbage.

    these different tools extract the article text and hyperlinks into a reading-optimized style. perhaps zotero could do something similar?
  • edited March 19, 2022
    Hello - I'm resurrecting this old thread. Is this feature in the works? I used to use Weava (weavatools.com) to highlight web pages - it works via a plugin and loads the page in place with highlights. This is one thing I really miss after switching to Zotero, which is otherwise superior. Currently I'm saving PDFs of web page / news articles and dropping them into my library manually. Even a button to automade this process (maybe it exists and I don't know about it) would be better.
  • I'm finding a tool for highlighting web pages and I found this.
    The new official PDF annotation tool is amazing. It would be nice if you guys can make one for the web page.
  • +1 on this. Consolidating pdf and html annotations in one place (and locally) would be a great addition. I am currently relying on Pocket to highlight blogs and it's quite expensive and inflexible.
  • Thank you @cheflo, for giving an overview of this topic and related discussions!

    I have recently described a workflow for saving and annotating web pages as HTML files. Perhaps this could help, as long as a fully developed tool is not in place?
  • edited July 27, 2022
    +1 would love to see HTML annotations (lines of text & area) as in PDFs. My current workflow is also saving as PDFs and doing the annotation on those but a lot of nitty gritty stuff to deal with (e.g. toolbars hiding sections of text when doing 'Save as PDF' in chrome)
  • +1. being so easily able to save web contents is a major draw for zotero; being able to annotate them would be highly desirable
  • @dstillman : is any such feature (notably highlighting for html) under discussion or on the roster?
  • edited September 10, 2022
    +1 Coming from Citavi where these is a very convenient feature that allows to “Save as PDF”, while retaining the HTML page, I really hope it can exist in Zotero as well!
  • edited September 10, 2022
    An alternative option is to use the text fragment feature (https://wicg.github.io/scroll-to-text-fragment/). You can use this to create an url with text snippet in the URL fragment. Chrome will open the page at the location of the highlighted text.

    Try for example the link: https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/89301/feature-request-add-annotations-for-web-pages#:~:text=Coming from Citavi where these is a very convenient feature that allows to “Save as PDF”

    In Chrome, you can create a link to a fragment by selecting the fragment, right click and select 'copy link to highlight'. In Firefox, you can install the addon 'link to text fragment' to get the same functionality.

    You can use this on your locally stored html pages as well, but for me opening the link only works if opened in Chrome. If I open te link to the locally stored file in Firefox, the Text fragment suffix is ignored/removed.
  • I have to say that I'm a bit uncomfortable with all these options using Chrome. I know the browser wars are lost for many, but some people use Zotero because it's free and open source software and don't like the idea of giving up all their data to Google...
  • I am not sure if you are referring to the text fragment option, but as I wrote, that is supported in Firefox with addon installed as well (with the caveat that it does not work well offline)
  • @ecodiv.earth Mostly the other options, since yours works with FF
  • +1 This is my number 1 feature request by far!

    The 'Print Friendly to PDF' Browser extension does a decent job at capturing the text of a webpage into a pdf file with the option to remove blocks of text which is great.

    Yet, especially for some blog posts, it can fail quite dramatically which makes the pdf useless and the text cannot be annotated with Zotero directly.
    I have looked into various popular alternatives for annotating these cases directly on the web, but all of them induce much more complexity and manual work into my workflow.
  • +1 Precisely because there are things like blogs or web reports from institutions that would be much readable in this way.
  • +1

    The main reason to request this feature is that, with the new PDF annotation functionality Zotero has become not only a bibliography/reference management system but also, as any good reference management systems, an anotation management system too. It doesn't make any sense to search within notes on PDF files but not HTML files, considering that knowledge is increasingly saved/delivered in html form.
  • After starting the workflow of converting the html documents to PDF I don't find this feature so critical in the short term. I just wonder how important it will become in the mid-term since it is obvious that we will quickly move beyond PDF files as the basic document format in academia.
  • edited January 5, 2023
    +1 on this. It is definitely necessary! It really does take time to switch it all around.
    I do it very similarly to the adouwa way found at: https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/comment/247874/#Comment_247874
    I just do it like this:
    Right click on the snapshot > Select "Show File" > Then, right click on the html file > Select 'Open With' and you can use Word, LibreOffice, or whatever app that has a highlight tool > Make your annotations there and save the file.
    Warning though, adouwa is correct in that it screws up the html layout, but the text is still there.
    My biggest problem with doing it that way is that you cannot export your annotations, like you can with text pdf's, or if you can I haven't figured it out. I prefer for everything to remain in Zotero.
  • +1

    Journals are increasingly treating the HTML versions of their articles as first-class citizens and not an afterthought, and I think it’s really unfortunate that we’re throwing overboard all the advantages of HTML publishing when it comes to annotations.
  • I second this request. I often annotate Zotero snapshots, then just save the annotated snapshot in the same location Zotero put it in the first place, using a great Firefox add-on called PageMark (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/pagemarks/). With it you can highlight text in the snapshot and attach a note to the highlighted section that stays with the snapshot. There should be a Zotero extension to use to do this.

    If there is an extension out there that does this, why should Zotero have one? Well, as far as I can tell, no similar extension exists for any other browser. And the fact is, most people don't use Firefox. There are extensions for other browsers that you can use to highlight web pages, but I've not found one yet that lets you save the annotated snapshot locally in the same way that PageMark does. Most of them save the annotated page in the cloud somewhere. To compound the problem for me, I have recently migrated from Windows to Mac, and though I've been a loyal Firefox user for years, I'm growing fond of Safari due to its integration with the Apple ecosystem (especially Keychain). But to annotate my Zotero snapshots I still have to use Firefox.

    Bottom line: there should be a cross-platform Zotero add-on like PageMark. I cannot make one because I am not an add-on developer. But this is clearly something a LOT of Zotero users would make use of. Please, somebody, make it happen!
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