I came across an interesting tool a couple weeks ago called Awesome Highlighter - basically it allows you to quickly highlight a part of a web page and then send someone a link to the highlighted version of the page. I thought a simple tool like this could have uses in certain reference situations where I want to quickly show someone where on a web page they need to look for something. It allows you to keep a library of pages you've already highlighted for repeat use. It also comes with a Firefox add-on that allows easy access to the tool.

Is anyone using this in any way in reference situations? Has it been useful?

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That looks like it could be really useful for virtual reference in particular. Unfortunately when I create a highlighted page in Firefox it doesn't display properly in Internet Explorer, which reduces the utility drastically. I'll keep an eye on it as it looks like they're actively developing it.

The tool I really like is Diigo which is like del.icio.us plus highlighting and sticky note facilities. It also lets you create an url for your marked up page, though a rather longer/uglier one than Awesome Highlighter; see this quick example. I haven't used this for reference but come to think of it it would also be useful for my weekly "Did you know" posts in our library blog, or showcasing new website features.

The main thing about Diigo is that it's got so many options it looks a bit intimidating for beginners - the Awesome Highlighter has a definite advantage in that (and in its name!)
Like the idea but the tool chokes on the URL for our page apparently. Must not like Drupal-generated pages such as http://library.pdx.edu. Will look into this further with our web developer. Thanks for making me aware of the tool!

Mike
There it goes...sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
Mike - did you create an account first? If not, that may be the cause. If you did and still encountered this problem, sounds like this may be a wait and see if it improves situation...thanks for experimenting with it!

Dana
Creating an account does seem to fix the problems I've been having. But I don't see a good reason for it to be buggy if you don't create an account. If it Just Worked (the way tinyurl does) then I'd happily promote it to all my colleagues; and if it didn't work at all unless you log in then I'd still consider it; but the fact that it *appears* to work (on the creation side) if you don't log in but gives buggy results (on the receiving side) just has too much potential for confusion.
Hi all,

I'm from the Awesome Highlighter, I hope you don't mind me dropping in on the conversation. I just wanted to say thanks for showing us a problem I didn't realize we were having (bugs w/ non-registering v. registering).

I appreciate everyone checking it out.
Also, if anyone has any, I'd love to hear ideas on how we could make this tool more useful.
Thanks for your reply - I'll be keeping an eye on the page to see how it develops, and once it's stable I'll definitely be recommending it to my colleagues!

My suggestions for making the tool useful, in order of priority:

1) Get the basics working reliably across as many browsers as possible, whether users are logged in or not - seriously, don't worry about adding anything until you've got this done. (If you need someone to test it on Macintosh browsers, I can do Firefox and Safari - email me at deborah.fitchett at gmail.com)

2) Keep it simple. That's the biggest thing you've got going for you at the moment; don't break it.

3) If and only if you can do this while keeping the basics working reliably and keeping everything simple, then sticky notes attached to bits of highlighting would be useful. But don't break anything in an attempt to add this or any other feature; we've all got enough programs around suffering from feature bloat. If you can give us a simple reliable tool - even if it only does one thing - you'll have a winner.
Thanks for the feedback!

If you could send me the links to the sites you have trouble with, as you come across them, that would help us tremendously (at bugs at awesomehighlighter.com). Every page is different so the more twists we can prepare for the better it "should" work.

I'm curious - how do you see yourself and colleagues using this?
I'll play with it a bit more later on and send you some links with explanations of what's going on for me.

For how I'd use it -- we have a virtual reference system - essentially a Meebo chatroom where students can ask questions and a librarian answers. Often we give them a url to a page with more information, but if it's a small bit of information on a long page it'd be useful to highlight that and send the student that highlighted page so they can find the info more quickly.

It'd be useful for answering email queries in just the same way.

I probably wouldn't use it myself for keeping a collection of bookmarks - I use Diigo for that, which has tremendous functionality. But precisely because Diigo has so much functionality I wouldn't recommend it to my colleagues en masse, because it's too complex for them to get into immediately. This is why I say you should keep Awesome Highlighter simple, because then it's easier for new users to appreciate and use.
That seems like a great use for it. We put out the AwesomeHighlighter with an idea of how we would use it, so it is interesting to find out other ways it can make things a little bit easier.

Thanks for the help and advice! I'll look forward to your email.
Hi Deborah,

Thanks for directing me to Diigo. I used Delicious before, but Diigo seems way better.

Perhaps you can help me: is there a way to import Delicious bookmarks into Diigo?

Also in case you don't know: thanks. This is a marvellous tool.

Regards, Mireille

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