Co-ment Web-based Text Annotation Tool

Damon Young
June 17, 2010
Image showing the use of the Co-ment tool.

Web-based text annotation allows colleagues to distantly collaborate -- from different locations -- on writing projects, to share feedback, and to compare different versions of documents. As web-based services proliferate, they are changing the shape -- and increasing the scope -– of traditional forms of academic collaboration, for instance, in digital dissertation writing groups, where chapter drafts can be posted online and marginal comments by all group members viewed on one document. Web-based collaboration solves the problem of multiple email drafts of various versions of documents getting out of hand, creating one central archive for all versions of a text and all its comments.

Co-ment, a French company, offers one such web-based tool, using open-source software, COMT. Co-ment offers a free version of its product for short-term or public projects, and a full-service subscription product ( $7/month. You can learn about and download the free COMT source code here.

On co-ment, users can enter a text or upload a document, which is then housed on the co-ment server. If your project is public, anyone can navigate to the co-ment site, highlight passages in your document and add marginal annotations. If you choose to make your text private, you can send a url to colleagues along with an authorization key enabling them to access the text.

The system keeps track of changes made to documents and stores multiple versions. You can compare different versions side by side, and earlier drafts remain accessible to annotation and editing at any time. Texts can also be printed and/or exported either with or without annotations, in a variety of formats, including print and web-based formats.