NowComment's most important feature is its powerful yet very easy-to-use interface that lets you:
- quickly see where people have commented on text passages, images, and videos
- see relevant comments, with a single click, in context with the document
- help you skim when there are a lot of comments
That said, NowComment also offers a wealth of other features, summarized below; we think it's the most powerful commenting platform around! Unique features are marked ‘*’; some are shown in our “Site and Document Features” demo video.
- *Document View Options
- Comments and Commenting
- *Comment Display Options (Full vs. Summary)
- *Comment Sorting
- *Updates (Notification of All New Comments)
- *Private Reply
- Additional Comment Menu Features
- Inviting People and Groups to Documents
- Changing an Already-Uploaded Document
- Add to Document
- Change Sentence
- *Suggest Revision (Track Changes)
- Document Properties
- Private vs. Public Documents
- Social Media Links (Public Documents only)
- *Access Date Settings (including Comment Hiding)
- Other Document Actions
- Profile & Settings
- *Comment Notifications
- *Favoriting Documents and Groups
- *Sorted User Reports spanning Multiple Documents (“Multi-Doc Report”)
- User Authentication Options
- Folders (Built-in and Created by You)
- Preview and Edit during Document Upload
- Adding NowComment Document Discussions to other Web Pages (“Embedding”)
- Document View Options
Our default “2-Pane View” shows the original document to the left and comments to the right; you can read the document without much distraction and find any related comments on interesting passages, images, or embedded videos by clicking their word balloon. Dragging the blue vertical bar between the panes changes their relative widths.
“Combined View” puts the document and comments together in a single pane, useful if you're already familiar with the document and know you want to read all the comments (if the document isn't familiar having lots of comments breaking up the text can be distracting). Documents print in this view, including documents you archive by printing them to PDF (print to PDF is built into most machines now, or you can get this handy capability from free utilities like CutePDF).
In both 2-Pane and Combined views, comments appear in document sequence: first any comments on Paragraph 1, then any comments on Sentence 1 of Paragraph 1, then any comments on Sentence 2 of Paragraph 1 … then any comments on Paragraph 2, then any comments on Sentence 1 of Paragraph 2, etc.
- Comments and Commenting
- Comment Display Options (Full vs. Summary)
All NowComment comments have two parts:
- Summary of Comment (required) — an overview to communicate the essential point(s) you want to make. One or two complete sentences work best.
- Full Comment (optional) — here's where you can flesh out your summary line with more detailed arguments and perspectives, citations, data, etc.
You can control how comments display in both 2-Pane and Combined views: “Full” shows you the complete comments (Summary + Full fields), while “Summaries” shows just the Summary field. Viewing Summaries view gives you a great overview of what everyone's talking about, especially useful when you don't have time to read all the comments completely.
- Comment Sorting
Sorted Comments uses the 2-Pane layout to provide four alternate ways to sort comments:
Updates (Notification of All New Comments)
- Commenter's Last Name
- Commenter's First Name
These show at a glance each person's comments on this document. Sorting by name is useful in many cases, e.g. it makes grading/evaluating really easy for teachers and supervisors! Our Sorted Multi-Document Report does the same thing across multiple documents.
- Date — see comments in the order they were made (sometimes it's helpful to see which comments were made first, or which ones were made right at the deadline).
- Tags — see all the comments made with the same tag (keyword). Comment tags are an Advanced Option on the “Add Comment” and “Reply” windows. Note that Documents can also be tagged.
If you'd like to get an email notification of every comment made on an important document just click the “Updates” button (while viewing the document) to turn on this feature. Updates save you from having to visit documents just to check whether there are new comments. You can toggle Updates off and on at any time. See also Email notifications.
Click the “Private Reply” checkbox in the “Reply” window if you want to hide a reply comment from everyone except the person you're replying to. Private Replies have a grey background and a closed lock icon (so they're easy to see). They aren't included in NowComment reports showing progress in meeting minimum or maximum comment targets in an assignment.
Additional Comment Menu Features (Comment Options Menu)
All comments immediately show a “Reply” button, the commenter's image, and the date the comment was made. But when you mouse over a comment you also get:
- An“Edit Comment” button — Commenters can edit their own comment until someone replies to it, and the Document Owner can always act as moderator and edit a comment. Either way, the name of the person making the edit and the date of the edit are always displayed.
- If you mouse over the comment date the time of day is also shown.
- If you mouse over the commenter's name or image you can see part of his or her bio; click on either one to see his or her full Profile.
- A context-sensitive “Comment Options” menu button with some or all of these options:
- Delete Comment — Similar to editing, both the Commenter (until someone replies to it), and the Document Owner can delete a comment.
- Show Comment URL — If you want to link directly to a comment (e.g. in your own comment of your own or in a social media post) this option show you the link URL.
- Hide Full Comment — An option to let you see just the Summary for a particular comment (choosing Summaries View would to the same thing for every comment on the document).
- Hide Thread Detail — This space-saving option hides all Commenter photos, and all the Full Comment fields, for all comments below and including the selected comment.
Groups serve three useful purposes:
- They let you share documents with many people at once.
- When new people join a Group they get immediate access to all the documents previously shared with the Group
- Groups provide a convenient way to organize your documents.
For more information please see Creating Groups for Document Sharing.
In NowComment you share a document by inviting people or Groups to read and discuss it with you. Inviting people is the only way to share a Private Document; you can also invite people to a Public Document, but Public Documents are also indexed by search engines and an can also be found that way.
Once you have a free NowComment account you can invite anyone to your documents, but only those with accounts can upload documents and invite others to them.
You most often invite new contacts to a document or Group via their email address. Once you invite someone, or someone invites you, that person is automatically added to your Address Book; a link to it is on the pull-down menu by your name. Once a name or email address is in your Address Book you can “autocomplete” either one the next time you invite them to something.
We also have tools that let you import names and email addresses from Outlook and any other .csv (Comma-Separated Values) files or from your Gmail account.
For more information see our overview of Inviting.
Changing an Already-Uploaded Document
NowComment gives you three ways to do this:
- Add To Document — the Document Owner can append new material (text, graphics, and/or embedded videos). This is great if you're telling an evolving story, or if you forgot some material, or if you want the first round of comments to determine what you say next, etc.
- Change Sentence — the Document Owner can modify the text of a document Sentence (to clarify, to add material, to fix a typo).
- Suggest Revision — readers can suggest text revisions to a Sentence, and you can accept that change with a single click (like Microsoft Word's “Accept Changes”). The Document will update immediately. Note that the Document Owner can disallow this feature at upload or at any later time; when commenting on an already published work (e.g. Shakespeare, the Bible) you're rarely looking to reword it!
For more information on these three options please see our Making Changes hint file.
NowComment lets you create an engaging blog from documents you've uploaded and/or Public Documents others have invited you to. There are two kinds:
- Personal blogs — only you can post documents to it. You can create a blog via the “Create Personal Blog” button on your My Library page (above where your Groups show).
- Group (Class) blogs — any member of the Group can add their NowComment documents to its blog. The Group Administrator (e.g. an Instructor) should create the blog so he or she can remove documents from the blog if they are inappropriate for any reason. To create one go to the appropriate Group page and click the “Create Group Blog” button.
For more information see our Blogs overview.
Nowcomment gives you five (5) different colors to make private highlights and five (5) other colors for public (visible to others) highlighting. Each color has a default meaning (e.g. yellow = Important, red = Unclear), but you can override (customize) these meanings at any time.
NowComment features a built-in “heat map” capability for public colors that lets you see how many Group members have marked up each passage and with what meaning (e.g. 5 saw it as Important and 3 Disagreed with it).
For more information see our Highlighting overview.
There are several interesting topics worth exploring here:
Other Document Actions (“More” menu)
- Private vs. Public Documents — Documents are Private by default, meaning only people and Groups that you invite can see and comment on them, and they aren't indexed by search engines. You can override this privacy default and set a document to be a Public Document, meaning it will be indexed by search engines, can be read by anyone on the Internet (including all comments that aren't private replies), and can be commented on by anyone with a NowComment account.
Our Public Documents section spotlights a few such documents on the first page and lets you browse others.
Each person's Profile page also has a blue RSS subscription button; clicking on that button lets you start an RSS subscription that will inform you each time that person uploads a new Public Document (Private Documents don't show on the RSS feed).
- Social Media Links (Public Documents only) — NowComment provides three links for Public Documents: Facebook, Twitter, and the AddThis plug-in that lets you share Public Documents via Tumblr, Pinterest, and hundreds of other services. We don't offer social media links for Private Documents (since they're supposed to be private!).
- Access Date Settings (including Comment Hiding) — these let the Document Owner control when those invited to a document can read, comment on, and see others' comments (the Document Owner can always do all three). For example, an instructor could set all the following controls in advance when uploading a document in advance:
- not allow students to read it until 9am Monday;
- block students from commenting before the Wednesday 3pm lecture gives additional context to the reading;
- hide comments, i.e. prevent students from reading comments made by other students until the Wednesday-Friday online commenting period ends at 2pm Friday (this is how you would use NowComment as a testing tool… having all the students' responses on one screen makes it easy to grade/compare/review).
- allow students to read other students' comments beginning 2:01pm Friday, when they can no longer add or edit or delete comments.
If you plan to reuse a commenting assignment as the test in future years you might never allow students to see their peers' comments on that document.
The Document Owner can change/reset these setting as desired, e.g. restrict the commenting period to Wednesday-Friday but then reopen comments for a second round once the students have seen their peer's comments.
- Assignments — the Document Owner can request minimum and/or maximum numbers of comments. Other available options:
- setting a due date and time
- sending a reminder email about the due date (at any specified date and time)
In addition to Uploading, Printing, and Inviting to documents, the blue Navigation strip at the top of a document page has a “More” menu that gives you these additional document options:
- Copy — You can upload a document one time and then choose the Copy option to make more copies of that already uploaded document. The copies will keep the original file name with “Copy 1”, “Copy 2”, etc. tacked on the end of the document name. You can then share each copy with the appropriate Group; you'll probably want to retitle each copy (via the Document Properties page) with whatever naming conventions make sense for you, e.g. replace “Copy 1” with “Section 1” or “Thursday morning group” or whatever.
- Sorted Multi-Document Report — see below.
- Download & Export Options — Your documents aren't locked into NowComment, you can download and/or export any document you uploaded or that was shared with you in a variety of ways: in its original format, in HTML, printed to PDF (if your computer's operating system has that option), or EPUB.
- Favorite/Unfavorite — Marking a Public Document as a “Favorite” will make it appear in the Favorites section of your Profile Page and, if you've chosen the Favorites checkbox in your email notifications settings, you'll get email about all comments made on a document (Public or Private). “Unfavoriting” removes the Profile listing and the special email notifications for that document.
- Fullscreen — This hides the NowComment logo and top links, freeing up more space for the document and comments. The “Show Top Links” option on the same menu restores the logo and links.
- Tag Document — This lets you assign tags (keywords) to a document to help people find it on searches.
Note: some of the options above are also on each document's “Options menu” on your My Library.
Profile & Settings (Account Information)
Your Profile Page is where you control how your name is spelled, your email address, what picture or image you use (if you don't upload one we provide a nature photo), your bio information if any, etc. In addition to these straightforward fields:
- Comment Notifications — NowComment lets you control how many comment notifications you get by choosing one or more of the following notification criteria here:
- if people reply directly to you
- if they comment on a conversation (thread) you've posted to
- if they comment on one of your “Favorite” documents (see below, also similar to Updates)
- comment on a document in a Favorited Group
By default you'll get a single “Daily Digest” of all comments that fit your chosen criteria, but you can also chose to get immediate notifications instead (or no notifications at all if you leave all checkboxes unmarked).
Favoriting Documents and Groups — here are some sample uses:
- Favoriting a Group — You join a Group and want to be notified whenever someone comments on any of that Group's documents. From the Group page, just click the “favorite this Group” link under the Group name. If you're joining an existing Group you'll receive notifications about Group comments made within the past 24 hours.
- Favoriting a specific Document — Useful whenever you want to monitor a document not in a favorited Group without having to visit it just to check whether there's are new comments.
Note: another way to get per document comment notifications is to use our “ Updates” feature; just click the “Updates” button when reading a document to turn on this feature. You can turn Updates off at any time.
- Unfavoriting a specific Document — Whenever you no longer want automatic notifications of new comments (you can always visit the document to see what's new).
- Unfavoriting a Group — If you leave the Group or no longer need to closely monitor its comments (note that you can Unfavorite specific documents while still Favoriting the Group as a whole!).
There are three ways to get a document onto this “Favorite” list:
Sorted User Reports spanning Multiple Documents (“Multi-Doc Report”)
- choose the “Mark as a Favorite” option on the “More” pull-down menu while reading the document)
- Favorite it from the document's Properties page.
- choose “Mark as a Favorite” from that document's Options menu on your My Library page
This report sorts and tallies all comments made on selected documents, so instructors and supervisors can grade/evaluate multiple documents at one time. Note: this option shows as “Multi-Doc Report” on the My Library “Options” and “More” menus.
User Authentication Options
Schools and organizations can use LTI or Shibboleth to let Group members access NowComment without needing an additional login+password. Individuals can also log in via their Google or Facebook accounts. If you create your account on NowComment first (using the same password you use on one of these authentication options) you will always have direct access to your account; we can let in log in because we have a password we can validate. If you create the account via any of the alternate authentication options and that server goes offline then you won't be able to log in to access your account, because we won't ever have been given a password for you and therefore we have to deny direct login attempts since we can't authenticate them.
Users without email addresses, including but not limited to elementary school students, can have NowComment accounts; see our “Managed Users” documentation.
Folders (Built-in and Created by You)
NowComment automatically creates these folders to organize your documents:
Preview and Edit during Document Upload
- My Uploads
- My Favorites
- Invited To
- Recently Viewed
- Public Documents
When uploading a document you get a Preview of how it will look online; if you want to fix typos or reword something or add/subtract white space you can do so easily right there.
Adding NowComment Document Discussions to other Web Pages (“Embedding”)
It's easy to embed NowComment Public documents and comments into other Web pages on other sites, you just insert an embed code. Details here.
[Last updated November 8, 2016]