Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Image Annotations

Back in August, August 16, 2012 to be specific, Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers featured a web 2.0 application in a blog post.  His post was quickly followed by praise for using this service in the classroom by Larry Ferlazzo of Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day...  Any mention or endorsement by these two is cause for checking out a website.

Szoter provides users with the ability to annotate uploaded images, screenshots and webcam captures.  Free of charge it requires no registration or login.  You can use Szoter online or download a free Adobe Air Desktop version.

To run Szoter you need Adobe Flash Player 10.  If you wish to use the screenshot feature you will need to make sure Java Runtime is installed.  When accessing the home page you can toggle back and forth between the Introduction, Features and Showcase which is a four-minute-plus video presentation of how it works sans sound.

Click the Launch The Szoter Online red button in the lower left hand corner to begin.  You are first asked if you would like to:

  • load a local image
  • capture camera image
  • make a screenshot
  • load from URL.

I began by uploading an image from my computer, a book cover from the new title, Frankenstein: a Monstrous Parody written and illustrated by Ludworst Bemonster.  This image appears in the center of the work space.  In the corners of the work space, left to right, top to bottom, you can use tiny icons to move cropping frame, zoom the canvas in and out, fit the frame to content, reset frame size, remove all objects and the size of your image is given.  There are also small arrows in all the corners and in the center of each side which allow you to fit the frame to the image.

In the top center of your image another series of icons allow you to crop it , flip it (mirror view), switch it top to bottom, and change its position through a series of rotations.  On the left-hand side is a vertical toolbar offering the following options (all but the top one have keyboard commands which can be used):
  • select mode
  • scale/rotate
  • draw shape
  • draw line
  • draw frame
  • draw circle
  • draw arrow
  • add text
  • remove selected
  • change size (of a selected item)
  • undo
  • redo.

Anytime one of these items is added to the canvas they can be altered just as the image is to get the position exactly as you want. By clicking on the item a frame appears along with the flip and rotate icons.

An item can also be re-positioned by clicking and dragging.  If you wish to edit your text box, simply double click.  On the right-hand side of your work space is another vertical tool bar which allows for color changes and the moving of items to the front, back, up or down in relation to the other objects on the canvas.

In the upper right-hand corner is the third tool bar.  From there images can be uploaded, captured from your webcam, created with a screenshot or from a URL.  Your completed Szoter can be saved to your computer or published and shared.

When you click the publish and share button a smaller window pops up over your canvas.  It gives your creation a unique URL, the ability to share on Digg, Twitter or Facebook, HTML image code, HTML link code and a URL message board image link.  Here are two canvases I created.



A couple of important things to note when you are creating a canvas are:   if you add anything outside the frame around your image, you need to expand that frame to include those added items and you might need to resize the canvas, using the zoom in and out option and adjusting the frame, as a whole for it to fit on your blog or website.  The HTML embed code does not give you the ability to resize the image by adjusting a width or height number.  Also when you save a canvas to your computer you will need to add a file type (.jpg, .gif, .tif, .png).  Szoter does not do that automatically.

Uploading an image using a URL worked very well.  When I attempted to use the Szoter helper coupled with Java Runtime to take a screenshot I was informed that the application's digital signature had expired.  I did not proceed on that basis.  When I tried to use my webcam both in Google Chrome and Internet Explorer I could not get the image to transfer to the canvas.

With those observations being noted, I still think as a simple tool for annotating images uploaded directly from your computer or online using a URL, Szoter is a good application.  Not needing to register or login is a huge bonus in my book especially for younger students.  A further advantage is the unique URL you are given allows you to access and edit the initial canvas.

After you have entered in the URL, you are taken to a screen like this image.  Notice the small square orange icon with a pencil in the upper left-hand corner.  By clicking on that icon you are taken back to the original canvas to make any changes.


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