Wilson Fletcher


Simple, sophisticated visual annotation

Far too often, our designers were finding themselves staying in the office all hours performing the incredibly dull task of annotation. After unsuccessful attempts to find something that would take away this headache, we decided to create our own tool. Canotate is a collaborative annotation tool that makes marking up and sharing visuals a doddle, so we can get on with spending our time designing.

  • London

“There must be an easier way to do this”

We often work on complex products and services that involve large quantities of wireframes and visuals that need to be shared with clients and development teams - often in distant parts of the world. Everything needs to be meticulously annotated to make sure they communicate their desired goals, and that's a time consuming process. Our designers found themselves wondering, “If only there was a tool we could use to make this process quicker…”

Why not build our own?

And so our annotation tool was born. Designed and built in-house at WF Studios, Canotate is a simple, beautiful tool for annotating and collaborating on anything visual. In our second release it will even publish elegant PDF documents for stage records.

Built to be as enjoyable to use as it is useful

The design of Canotate was focused on making collaboration easy. We wanted to make sure the product was a pleasure to use. We created easy ways to set up collaborators and structure documents with chapterisation to ensure that all parties could be on the same page (ahem).

Let's face it, annotations are rarely fun: Canotate takes away the pain and saves time. And it does it with style.

A rapid and agile process

A functional Rails prototype was complete in two weeks: it proved the concept and allowed us to try it out with people outside of our team. This feedback was used to flesh out the design approach. The production version which was built using EmberJS over a Ruby on Rails JSON API. We used Ember App Kit and Ember CLI to speed things up even further. The team were as agile as a snake, using github to manage code, issuesand feature backlog.

Happier, more productive teams

Canotate speeds up our ability to deliver annotated visuals massively, makes sharing them with anyone in any location simple, and allows a variety of team members to add their own comments and annotations with ease. It is already a mainstay of our own programmes of work and will soon launch publicly so that everyone can enjoy the simplest way to annotate.