UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Structured annotations to support collaborative writing workflow Zheng, Qixing


Most co-authoring tools support basic annotations, such as edits and comments anchored at specific locations in the document. However, they do not support higher-level communication about a document such as commenting on the tone of a document, giving more explanation about a group of basic annotations, or having a document-related discussion. Such higher-level communication gets separated from the document, often in the body of email messages. This causes unnecessary overhead in the write-review-edit workflow inherent in co-authoring. To address the problem, we first established user-centered requirements for annotation support. We conducted a small field investigation of email exchanges including document attachments, among three small groups of academics (3 to 5 people each). We categorized the higher-level communication from the email and developed a set of eleven requirements to support document annotations. We next developed document-embedded structured annotations called "bundles" that incorporate higher-level communication into a unified annotation model meeting the set of requirements. We also designed and implemented a high-fidelity prototype called the "Bundle Editor" that illustrates our structured annotation model. Finally, we conducted a usability study with 20 participants to evaluate the annotation reviewing stage of co-authoring. The study showed that the annotation bundles in our high-fidelity prototype reduced reviewing time and increased accuracy, compared to a system that supports only edits and comments.

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