About a month ago Google launched
an ambitious project to allow users to comment on every page on the web. With Google Sidewiki, Firefox and Internet Explorer users could view what others had to say about a particular page or subject and they could also make their own annotation. But in order to view the comments or create new ones the Google Toolbar had to be installed. Now Google is coming out with an option for those using other browsers or who don't want the Toolbar, with a dedicated Sidewiki bookmarklet.
“Google Sidewiki appears as a browser sidebar, where you can read and write entries along the side of the page. A lot of great Sidewiki entries have since been written throughout the web,” Andrey Adaikin, a Google engineer working on the Sidewiki, wrote
. “Until now, Sidewiki was available only through Google Toolbar for Firefox and Internet Explorer. Today, we're excited to release the official bookmarklet for Sidewiki, which lets you easily read and write Sidewiki entries in Google Chrome, Safari and other browsers.”
The bookmarklet has the great advantage of being browser-agnostic, meaning it's basically just a web page that opens up in a new window. This means that there won't be any sort of compatibility problems but it also comes with some rather big limitations. When visiting a page there is no way of knowing if it has any comments or not.
Users will have to click on the bookmark, which opens up the Sidewiki in a pop up, to see if anyone has left any notes and this has to be done for every new page opened as well. Writing something is less of a hassle, as users need to select the portion of text they want to comment on and click the bookmark and Sidewiki will open up in edit mode.
'Installing' it is pretty basic: just navigate to the Google Sidewiki Help Center page and drag the Sidewiki button embedded there to the Bookmarks bar. If you don't have a Bookmarks bar enabled you will have to open the Bookmarks manager in your browser. The Sidewiki bookmark is useful enough if you don't have any alternatives but Google is working on a native extension for Chrome to support the feature. Safari and Opera users have no such luck though.