Blocks ::: block_annotate
Maintained by favicon-blueTextensor Team
Collaborative course material review and annotation in Moodle.
Latest release:
82 sites
23 fans

Benefits of using Annotate

Annotate is used by top universities worldwide as a way for instructors to engage with students, allowing meaningful discussions on course materials. It can also be used to review assignments in a flexible way that otherwise would only be possible on paper.

You can easily add private or shared notes to any document, choosing from text highlighting, area selection and free-hand annotations. This provides great flexibility and a wide range of resources is supported, such as images, handwritten content and PDFs. Advanced features include full search capabilities, point to point linking across multiple documents, note and document tagging and export, which makes Annotate an excellent review and collaboration tool for Moodle.

The Annotate block connects Moodle with an Annotate private install. This allows Moodle course materials such as PDFs or images to benefit from all the features. Please note that this is a commercial product - you must have a paid subscription to be able to use the plugin. For more info on Annotate private installs and licensing, visit or get in touch directly on

How does it work?

After adding the block to your course, all PDFs will have a button next to them which will allow users to open them in the Annotate document viewer - ready for review and annotation. When you first click on a certain annotation button, the corresponding file will be transferred to Annotate where it is possible to annotate it.

For more info on plugin features and case studies, visit 

Testing and installation

For details on how to install the plugin, visit The part 2 of the guide needs to be completed to allow the Annotate server to fetch any file that needs to be annotated. Only those files whose annotation button has been clicked by the users will be fetched.

Test Server Available on request, contact us here.


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Textensor Team (Lead maintainer)
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  • Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 10:06 AM
    Hi There,

    can you please improve the description here and include some screenshots? - it is not clear what your plugin actually does by just reading the information here. As your plugin requires a commercial licence you should also include this information within the plugin description. It may also be a good idea to add Travis support to your github repository which allows the various coding and quality checks to be run on each commit made. For more information on this see:

    I took a quick look at your code and noticed an issue which I have reported into your tracker which will also need addressing.

    thanks for your patience with the plugin review process.
  • Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 6:37 PM
  • favicon-blue
    Sat, Apr 23, 2016, 12:05 AM
    Hi Dan,

    Thank you very much for your time and feedback.

    Travis is now set up in our github repository and all the checks are completed without errors.
    Thanks for the advice, it is a very useful tool indeed!

    The other issues should have been fixed as well.

    Best regards.
  • Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 10:23 AM
    Thanks - I'll take another look at your code, in the meantime I think you still need to improve the text here in the plugin.
    Your short description states: "Document annotation in your Moodle course." - this doesn't mean a lot to people unfamiliar with the term "annotation" Then in the full description you mention that the plugin integrates with but doesn't mention any of benefits of integrating with or what features you can access from within Moodle.

    You should also make it clear that is a commercial service (even if a free version is available) - typically this is done by adding some text like the following to your description: is a commercial product - you must have a paid subscription to be able to use this plugin.
  • favicon-blue
    Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 11:11 PM
    Thanks again for your feedback. The description has been modified and should be more clear now.
    Also the issues raised in Github have been addressed.
  • Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 11:36 AM
    Thanks for those updates, I've installed your plugin and posted some more feedback into github with some minor issues.

    Now that I've had time to install your plugin and understand what you are trying to achieve I have a few bigger issues, Your plugin requires the use of a Moodle web-service which I assume is used to obtain the actual file.
    1) you don't provide any documentation on what web-services functions should be enabled for this web services user or how this should be set up.
    2) I have a few reservations about the design of this - allowing your external system (which is not controlled/owned by an organisation) to make direct web-services calls to Moodle asking it for information about a range of files seems a bit risky - so any documentation around this should make it very clear that adding the user will give direct access to files stored within the Moodle site. I wonder if it would be better for the moodle plugin to push files to Annotate rather than allow Annotate to pull files - but as long as you document this better I don't think we would block approval in the plugins db.
    3) I wasn't convinced that a block was the right way to add this to a course - but I see that it can use course specific configuration - although I presume this also means that annotate only works on the pages where the block has been added so it does not work within assignment/forum pages that do not add the block. Adding the block also appears to use up a decent amount of screen real-estate and many pages that I could see annotate being useful may not want any blocks to appear on the page.

    We definitely need better documentation related to the set-up of the internal Moodle web services user before we could approve this and there may be other comments from the other Plugin guardians related to the design (block & web service) you have used.
  • favicon-blue
    Tue, May 3, 2016, 6:37 PM
    Thank you for your comments.

    Detailed instructions on how to set up the Moodle web services user have been added to the plugin description.

    When the user clicks on the annotation button, the Annotate server fetches the file from Moodle using the script /webservice/pluginfile.php,
    as described in the "Web services files handling" page in the Moodle docs. Only those files that the user clicks on will ever be requested by Annotate,
    and only in those courses to which the block has been added. Regarding the external system, a considerable number of organisations choose to
    host the Annotate install themselves and for the remaining cases, we offer hosting and support on our servers, owned by Textensor Ltd.
  • Fri, May 6, 2016, 8:24 AM
    Thanks for adding those further instructions - I'll let the HQ team take over and make a decision on approval - thanks for your patience with the review process.
  • Wed, May 11, 2016, 5:19 AM

    Thanks Dan for the detailed review of the plugin that led to significant improvements. And good luck guys with your service. You are cleared to land now, welcome to the Plugins directory!

  • favicon-blue
    Tue, May 17, 2016, 8:52 PM
    Thank you Dan and David!

    German, thank you for your comment. The issue raised on Github has been fixed.
  • Tue, May 17, 2016, 10:56 PM
    Hi there,

    This is a very interesting looking plugin. However, I tried to get it working on a test site but was unable to access the PDFs. I tried in Chrome, Firefox and IE. Screenshot temporarily available at

    Thanks, Catherine
  • favicon-blue
    Tue, May 17, 2016, 11:56 PM
    Hi Catherine,

    Thank you for trying the Annotate plugin.

    Our Annotate server couldn't fetch the files from Moodle and therefore they cannot be accessed. It looks like there is a problem with the "Web Services user token" provided in the plugin configuration, which is preventing the file transfer. Please review the set-up instructions available in this page - the 8 steps need to be followed exactly and unfortunately it is easy to miss something.

    Please let us know if there is anything that is unclear or that we can further help you with.
  • Wed, May 18, 2016, 5:46 PM
    Thanks for your response - you were right it was the token. I was able to test it out successfully.
  • Mon, Jun 27, 2016, 2:24 AM
    The links to annotate are dead
  • favicon-blue
    Mon, Jul 11, 2016, 5:00 PM
    Hi Bert, thank you for letting us know. The links have been fixed.
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