Groupnotes lets you annotate any web page and have on-the-spot conversations with collaborators


Groupnotes is a cross between a web clipper and social-media style note taking app. It will let you have a conversation with your team right on top of any webpage, which can be useful in all manner of collaborations such as web design or research projects, etc.

You can create notes by highlighting text and leaving a comment that you or others can view, and your collaborators can respond by adding their own comments in a conversation style.The free Groupnotes service includes a browser plugin for Chrome that can notify you of all activity by others in your groups, right in the Chrome toolbar.

First off, you may be curious as to how Groupnotes works. Once you install the Chrome extension, go to any website and highlight some text; once you will see a little orange icon appear (see screenshot above), click it and leave your comment in the dialog that pops up.

Groupnotes screenshot1 - creating a note

You can choose which group to include your note in (assuming you have different people belonging to different groups you set up), and you can tag a specific person or persons in order to call their attention to your note.

Groupnotes screenshot2 - tagging a note

Others who belong to the group (and those you tagged) can see your note and respond to it, in a social style conversation.

Groupnotes screenshot3 - conversation

More features:

  • Groupnotes screenshot4 - the Chrome ExtensionThe Chrome extension: provides a feed of everything that is going on (see screenshot right)
  • Add different people to different groups: in your dashboard, you can create several groups and invite people to join. This allows you to have several audiences for different projects etc.
  • Tag people: within your comment, to call their attention to your note.
  • Your conversation is always there: whenever you re-visit that page, docked to the side of the screen in a very nice way.

The Verdict:

This is a great idea, and will be very useful to certain teams, as mentioned at the top of this review, such as coders/web developers/designers, especially those that work on web projects remotely, as well as knowledge workers whose work depends on finding information on the internet, such as bloggers.

But Groupnotes but it is still in it’s early stages and there are a number of issues to consider. For starters, it doesn’t work on a great many web pages, such as this very site at the time of this writing, and I almost lost interest and didn’t write it up for this reason. They are working on this issue, however, so I am hopeful that it will be worked out. There are other issues, such as an under-developed dashboard which won’t let you manage your notes holistically, and the fact that you get notifications of others making notes that they didn’t (specifically, if someone starts to create a note but changes their mind). Notes/comments tend to also take a long time to appear when you revisit the page.

But the question is whether Groupnotes will find any traction in a world with many similar services that will let you take notes, organize, and share them; e.g. Springpad and Evernote, Kippt, and Catch are a few that come to mind. These are also more mature, offering such features as mobile apps, RSS feeds, and ways to organize info (such as tags or categories). In some ways Facebook is a viable alternative, if  highlighting a specific text is not on top of your priority list.

Still, Groupnotes has a lot of appeal and there’s something refreshing about it. Try it out for yourself.

Get Groupnotes here.