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Improving the handling of annotations
I am looking for an epub reader for my academic workflow that matches (as much as possible) what I can do with PDFs. 

The main functionality that I am after is to be able to annotate - and by that I mean highlight text and add notes - and export those annotations (full text of what is highlighted and also my associated notes) with location references  and, ideally, links back to the location in the document.  Oh, and for annotations to be automatically synchronised across devices. 

I have read a number of threads in the forum about how Freda handles bookmarks and highlights differently and how the automatic synchronisation works and I don't think I can get it to do what I am after.  If I missed something please let me know.

Would it be possible to develop Freda to offer this functionality?

I have seen quite few posts in forums for various note-taking apps looking for good epub readers that can support the academic flow but no-one has yet done it, so people end up converting their documents to PDF and working with those. That may be okay for Windows, but is a horrible experience on mobile.

I like what I have seen of Freda so far (only a couple of days) and being able to have the same interface across Android and Windows is great, but I really need this additional functionality to be able to build it into my research.

Many thanks,
I think Freda can do most of what you need already.  When reading text, select a block of text (for instance by dragging the mouse over the text, and/or by moving the selection handles using the mouse, with the left button held down).  Right-click on the selected text to pop up the menu, and from that menu choose 'note' to directly add an annotation to your text.

To export all annotations in a book, click ... at the bottom right of the page, then click the 'bookmarks' button to pop up the list of all bookmarks/annotations.  On that flyout page, below the list, you will see a 'save' button.  That will save all the bookmarks/annotations in an HTML file.  The columns of the table are (1) a Freda-specific reference, consisting of chapter and word number (2) the text from the book (3) the annotation (4) a reference to the location, in the standard 'EPUB CFI' format.

The piece that Freda does not yet do is the automatic synchronisation across devices.  At present, it has to be done manually:
  • On device #1 when you're finished reading, tap the hamburger button at the top of the main screen to open the menu; choose 'backup (merge/save/load)' and select 'save'
  • Next to 'save', tap the button and select only 'bookmarks+highlights'
  • Next to 'for', choose 'only current book'
  • Click the 'save' button at the bottom of the screen and wait for the operation to complete.

  • On device #2 tap the hamburger button at the top of the main screen to open the menu; choose 'backup (merge/save/load)' and select 'load'
  • Next to 'load', tap the button and select only 'bookmarks+highlights'
  • Click the 'load' button at the bottom of the screen and wait for the operation to complete.
In a future release I will be allowing for automatic synchronisation of more things - but this will not be coming in the near future.
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Thanks for such a through and fast response Jim! The explanation of the fields in the annotation export file is very helpful.

I acknowledge that the app already offers most of the functionality, once you have found it, and that is not true of most other readers! I guess I am asking for even more, however, as I find that unless something is easy and smooth - preferably automatic - then it provides friction in my workflow and I tend not to use it.  The way that Google Play Books is supposed to automatically save annotations to Google Drive is an example of what I am after, except that it doesn't actually work for me, so preferably something like that, but working ;-) 

Re the two locations of a highlight / bookmark / note in the export file, is there any way to automate a link back to the position in the file? I am not aware of a standard that would allow this across apps, but just within the Freda app would be great. (I was not even aware of the "EPUB CFI format"!)

Thanks again for the apps and for your response.
I'll be having a think about the points you mention.  Making synchronisation more automated is certainly something I plan to do, but it does raise some awkward edge-cases (for instance, what the app should do if one device has been disconnected from the network for a while, and annotations have been changed on both devices).  None of this is impossible, but it does mean I need to think it through.  And I quite like the idea of including, in the HTML dump of the bookmark list, a 'freda link' that would, when clicked, open the right page of the right book in Freda.  That's not trivial though, because it means creating a special URI scheme, that Chrome or Edge will recognise (and having recognised it, will pass it on to Freda for action).  That's do-able, but making it work reliably could be tricky.

Anyhow, I am most grateful for the feedback, and I'll be working on it.
Thank you for your consideration on this. This is the sort of product support that is so rare now!! Kudos :-)

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