By Warren Baird on Mar 28, 2013
One of AutoVue's great strengths is the wide range of markup/annotation tools that are available. However, for the less technical user who is only being called upon to add feedback to a document, the wide range of types of markup entities can be a bit confusing. I'd like to share some of our best practices around annotations documents - specifically focusing on collecting feedback.
Step 1: identify a standard way to add textual comments - There are several ways users can add textual comments to a document with AutoVue's annotations - they could add a leader-line, a text entity or a note entity. What I've found is generally most flexible is to use a Highlight or Cloud entity, grouped with a Note entity - the Highlight or Cloud identifies the area that the comment is associated with, and the Note contains the comment itself. This has the advantage of making it clear what the context is, and allowing the entry of longer blocks of text without covering up parts of the drawing or document. The following screenshot shows how this can look in AutoVue - and if the user hovers her mouse over the note, she can see a preview of the first part of the text of the comment.
Step 2: Identify which other markup entities your 'non-technical' users are likely to need. In some cases the cloud/note combination described above might be enough - but depending on what your users need to do, they might also need other entities - for instance, the 'Freehand' line entity could allow users to sketch what they really want to see, and the Measurement entity could allow them to indicate specific measurements on a drawing to add additional context.
Step 3: Train the users on just the markup entities you expect them to use - make it clear to them which entities should be used under which conditions and show them where to find the specific entities they need.
Step 4: Optionally, to make it a lot easier for the users you could create a custom user interface (UI) that displays only the Markup Entities your non-technical users need, and configure your system to provide that UI for the appropriate users. This could involve providing only a few key markup entities on the top toolbar, rather than adding new toolbars with all of the entities - something like this for example:
This kind of customization can be done by creating a custom GUI file - this is documented in the AutoVue installation and configuration guide - and we'll be talking about it more in an upcoming blog post.
Let us know in the comments how your users are using annotations/markups and if this approach would help them!