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DART: AA2: Secure Annotation Server and Sidebar

The Secure Annotation Server was developed as part of the AA2 DART workpackage. The goal of the AA2 workpackage is to allow end user control over who can annotate what, and who can access those annotations. To this end, this project has involved modifying Annotea to allow Shibboleth and XACML integration, as well as developing client tools to use the sever for annotation creations, viewing and management.


  • Annotea - a Web-based annotation server developed by the W3C as part of the Semantic Web initiative. Annotea uses RDF to model annotations. (License: W3C)
  • Annozilla - designed to view and create annotations associated with a web page, as defined by the Annotea project. (License: MPL)
  • Amaya - W3C's web editor that includes collaborative annotation support (License: W3C)
  • Shibboleth - an Internet2 middleware initiative that enables identity management and secure access to Web resources shared amongst multiple organizations (License: Apache 2.0)
  • XACML (eXtensible Access Control Markup Language) - XML-based language for defining and enforcing access control policies

System Architecture

Annotation Model

The annotation model used by Annotea was extended to allow XACML policies to be described and attached to annotations.

Client applications

Annotea Sidebar

Although tools such as Amaya, Annozilla and Vannotea are suitable for attaching textual or hyperlink annotations to digital objects, none of these tools provide an interface that is suitable for specifying XACML access policies and attaching them to the annotations. Consequently we developed our own client-side application as an extension to Annozilla using Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). An additional client side application has been developed using C# and .Net which appears as a side-bar to the Internet Explorer browser.

Example of using the client application to annotate publications from the ePrints archive at UQ:

The annotations are shown in the top left-hand frame, the details of the selected annotation are in the bottom left-hand frame, and the publication is displayed in the right-hand frame.

Example of using the side-bar to define policies:


To install the Annotation Server:
  • Download the Annotation Server WAR file.
  • Deploy the WAR file in Tomcat using the Tomcat manager.
  • Instructions for deployment of annotation server.

For more detailed instructions, consult the user documentation.

Please note: This software is no longer developed and is provided for reference purposes only.
Please see DIAS-B Danno for information on current annotation service and tools development.