Fleck is a free Web annotation tool for marking up blogs, Web sites, and social networking profiles with little sticky notes. The service launched late last year as a Firefox-only tool and has since added compatibility with Internet Explorer. Fleck, like other annotation tools, can be a dead-simple way to collaborate and leave visual feedback for others without the hassle of software or the complexity of more advanced business collaboration tools.
Managing annotations with Fleck is very simple. Just plug a URL from any Web site into Fleck.com and you're ready to go. You can create and move around small yellow bullets that double as full-sized sticky notes when you expand them. Everything is managed from a floating toolbar that resides on the bottom of your browser window. The toolbar gives you straightforward access to add and share annotations with others. You can send off your notes to someone via e-mail or publish them straight to your blog if you're a WordPress user and are willing to install the plug-in on the server that's running your blogging tool.
What's more interesting is the Firefox extension Fleck launched last month. Once installed, it shows any publicly available Fleck markups for the page you're currently visiting. It's reminiscent of the Smart Digg Button extension we wrote about last week, although a little less creepy. By default, all Flecks are turned on as public, although users can set them to be private by checking a small box.
Fleck is really simple to use, but doesn't offer some of the really rich sharing and markup options we've seen lately with Yoono [hands-on] and Grouptivity [hands-on]. I'd like to see Fleck add a drawing tool, and a way to make lines and boxes, too. There's also no way to make changes with others in real time. The closest thing to that is the versioning feature, which gives each user multiple workspaces.
It's still nice to use one of these tools without the need for registration or any sort of installation. The downloadable extensions that Fleck offers only makes it easier, and a little richer for exploration.
To see an example of a Webware post with Fleck annotations, click here. To mark up this post, click the 'annotate this page' link I've embedded below.