Weava: best tool for online research (and offline pdfs)?

I just discovered this tool called Weava that helps you annotate websites and pdfs and collect the snippets that you highlighted on various pages. I have hardly tried it yet but thought I’d briefly mention it here because what I have seen so far looks really exciting. It’s pretty much what I’ve been looking for since years.

As you know, it is easy to discover ever new things or snippets of information on the web (including on the websites of academic journals where you went for one article but end up finding three others). What happens is that I end up having about 356 open tabs in my browser because I don’t want to loose whatever I just found but I don’t have time to look at it more closely now. Yes, that’s what bookmarks are for. But bookmarks only save the link to the whole page. With Weava, you save the snippet of information that is relevant on that page.

Anyway, I don’t want to convince anyone. That bookmarking use case is not even the primary use case for which the app was designed. They started off wanting to help students do research online as well as – perhaps more importantly – systematically read and annotate pdfs, perhaps even collaboratively. And then they noticed that not only students are using it…

To really answer the question in the title, some more research needs to be done, because, of course, Weava is not alone. Here is a list of Weava alternatives that probably should be part of a comparison:

I’ll stop here because the list could be continued almost indefinitely. So what do you do when there is such a large number of similar services to compare? I don’t have time to look at them all (but see here for a previous little review I did). So in those situations I try to find open source or at least non-profit projects that seem to be active and promising. And in this case, these would be Zotero with Zotfile and hypothes.is.

If you have some experience with any of these, please share it, even if it’s only a brief “why I like it” or “why I don’t like it”.


11 thoughts on “Weava: best tool for online research (and offline pdfs)?

  1. I’m currently researching what tools to use for my research. Best up until now are Diigo and Weava. Problem with Diigo is that free version has limited PDF (as opposed to web) highlights. Problem with Weava is that you cannot share with the free version.

    • So did you take a look at hypothesis? I believe this the way to go. I guess the title of the post is misleading as ot points to Weava whereas my actual conclusion is: Hypothesis (that’s what happens when you do research while writing your blog post…)

      • I did re-visit Hypothesis after your comment. Unless I’m missing something, you can’t do outliners and you can’t change the location of the annotations… I’m gonna go for the paid Diigo personally.

    • I haven’t used Zotero in years (as I’m still a big fan of Citavi) but I believe it still does have that highlighting feature. I suppose you have figured it out in the mean time?

      • it has the highlighting feature but it only shows the highlighted part but not in context. If yo go to the original page you won’t find it highlighted in context as far as I can tell. I’m accessing the original site thru chrome not the default Edge so I don’t know if that affects the situation.

  2. Diigo was very cool, as you can save pages offline, but even without this feature, the free version is too expensive!

  3. Lately, I would always find it handy when copying text from websites, from PDF documents, or text (and image) in general, to have that pulled directly into a local or cloud-based storage (along with source and time). With Weava you can mark the text well in different colors – that’s really cool. It would be cool if you could also drag the copied snippets into different folders. I just tried it and it should work. That is of course really helpful!

    My main goal is to have an option to quickly sort images or texts into a pool with the right mouse button or a key combination when researching a private or professional topic on- or offline, and to copy the images and texts contained in that pool, along with the stored source, into different folders (e.g. for papers into a folder “Method” or into a folder “Evaluation/Analysis”). This way, everything is already sorted when you read it and you don’t have to do tedious research and sorting.

    Basically I would like to create a topic in a cloud-based app and then save text/images from different websites or PDFs into the same topic/journal (preferably with source and date stored). Of course, an app/software would be great that would do this not only for web clipping, but also for offline clipping from PDF documents or similar.

  4. For some reason, unlike all the reviews, I have been complaining disappointed and frustrated with Mendeley and Zotero. Zotero is Not user friendly. I need to be a computer programmer to do anything with it. If there is a built in pdf annotate, I can’t find it: either opens to Edge, or source code. Nothing other than ability to personalize’ citations and web snippet synchs are positive. Mendeley is not user friendly for editing/adapting citations.

    I’m a History major, not a computer science engineer. I just want a intuitive, user friendly reference manager that simplifies things. At the moment, I’m better off having a gazillion search tabs open and creating my own bibliographies and links in Word and Google Docs. The time I have spent in frustration could have been spent researching.

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