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Non-Destructive Annotation of Documents in an Image Processing Environment Disclosure Number: IPCOM000014264D
Original Publication Date: 2000-Feb-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-19

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Non-Destructive Annotation of Documents in an Image Processing Environment


The problem trying to be solved here relates to how the IBM ImagePlus workstation program (an Image Client for Windows 95 or NT) processes annotations in conjunction with a host server. The host server is the IBM ImagePlus Object Distribution Manager (IODM). Annotations are defined to mean highlighting, sticky notes, and redaction (i.e. masking) any area of a document. A document is typically scanned into the ImagePlus workstation program.

In the past, documents scanned into the workstation program could only be annotated prior to actually storing them in IODM. Customers needed the ability to re-annotate documents after they were originally stored. What customers would have to do is display the document, re-annotate it, and store the document plus inclusive of annotations again. This consumed more storage and was not a viable solution for customers with high volume scanning operations.

This invention helps solve the problem by storing the annotation objects separately, but there is a need to be able to associate the original document object with the annotation object. The ImagePlus workstation program would perform the "merging" of the annotations with the original document. This processing is transparent to the end user. The annotation object is a fraction of the document size, thus reducing the storage requirements considerably.

Invention Disclosure

Disclosed is a programmatic method for handling annotations (e.g. text highlighting, masks, notes, etc.) that are made to documents
(e.g. images in TIFF, JPEG, or other formats) in an image processing environment. Document annotations are stored, displayed, tracked, and managed such that the original electronic document remains unaltered, preserving the document's legal status. This is accomplished using several components:

- An image client, which usually runs on a workstation (e.g. PC), controls the display and manipulation of documents (images). It has the responsibility of controlling document updates and keeping annotations separate from the original document. When appropriate, it "bundles" document annotations into a single file, and submits the bundle to an image server for storage. The image client also has the responsibility of re-rendering the document with the annotations intact.

- A document image server. In addition to storing and retrieving base documents, the server also manages updates that are caused by document annotations. It associates annotations with base documents by creating an index document, and maintains the integrity of annotation by using a document checkout mechanism. The checkout procedure ensures that no two users can annotate the same document at the same time.

The use of files to store document annotations and index information is key to the success of this approach to document annotation management:

- Because only annotations (not the entire document) are stored wit...