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ericn

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Aug 31 10 4:24 PM

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I wanted to start the dreaming of a better Modbook with Tom's (arty's) suggestion:


[When a non-drawing application is frontmost] … get the screen to allow layers of handwriting to appear over word documents and pdf files so that handwritten notes / drawings could be made on them for classroom presentations etc.


I really want that functionality. I annotate all my reading and would love to annotate webpages as I read them.


In principle it would be possible to slide a transparent window across the screen that could be written on. The difficulty is correctly associating what is written on the transparent window with a particular location in a Word document or webpage. I'm not sure how to address this. (You'd have to figure out what portion of the document can be seen in its window.) I'll have to think more.


Nonetheless, the transparent drawing window might more straight forwardly provide a way to annotate Keynote or PowerPoint presentations. Using AppleScript, one can figure out which slide is being displayed and associate the annotation with that slide.


EricN


Note: I've played with OmniDazzle, a free app, which provides a part of the software we'd need, but the Scribble tool always crashes on me.

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#1 [url]

Sep 1 10 6:11 AM

At my school, we use Smart Boards, and these allow users to write over various applications. Quite literally, when I hook my Modbook up to the Smart Board and open a PDF in Notebook, a small frame appears around the screen. Then, once I have written on the Smart Board, a pop-up menu asks me if I want to save the Ink Layer. Perhaps this would be a model for what you are suggesting. 

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ericn

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#2 [url]

Sep 1 10 7:41 AM

In Smart Board, if I circle a specific word in the PDF and then save the ink layer, the next time I open the PDF will the word be circled? (I suppose I'd have to open the ink layer first, but how do I know which ink layer to open?) Is the ink layer associated with the PDF or the screen?

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#3 [url]

Sep 1 10 8:45 AM

I just opened a PDF in the Smart Board Notebook app., and the first thing I noted is that the quality of the text was significantly degraded when I zoomed in to make it legible--the same thing happens in Curio. That issue aside, I used the pen tool in the Notebook application to make a fed scribbles, and then I saved it. No dialogue box popped up, so the option to save the Ink Layer might only work if you use the Smart Board itself. When I opened the saved file, the ink scribbles were gone. 

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#4 [url]

Sep 1 10 9:06 AM

I downloaded and tried out the OmniDazzle application, and although it did not crash on me, it did not save any of the marks on the screen onto the document itself. This is disappointing because, for a moment there, I thought I'd finally found the tool to make my Modbook nearly perfect.

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ericn

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#5 [url]

Sep 1 10 8:07 PM

There is one other screen scribble app that I've heard about: Conjure. Like the others, I'm pretty sure you can't use it to annotate, but it does lots of other things, weird and interesting things.

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ericn

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#6 [url]

Sep 4 10 12:13 PM


I'm thinking that there are two basic ways to approach this problem: To build a separate app for annotation in each of PDF's, webpages, Word, and presentation software or to build one app that provides a general screen markup capability across all applications. The first approach seems more likely to succeed while the second seems more interesting.

There are several apps that offer PDF annotation — none work very well. There is an interesting Safari extension from Panic that provides webpage annotation but is very limited — it seems to mark up a screen shot. And I go on about marking up presentation software in another post.

Building a general application would probably have to rely either on screen shots, which could be edited and saved, or on printing the frontmost app's current window, which could then be marked up and saved.

Any other thoughts?

EricN

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#7 [url]

Oct 4 10 5:18 AM

Yes, but Keynote (and Powerpoint, too) take over all the pen annotation functions of the Modbook, so that you cannot use SmartBoards on top of either. This must just be a driver issue, since you can use Smart Boards with a regular MacBook and the Grafire Wacom tablet. I don't see why that cannot be done for the ModBook, and I have been agitating about it for a year now! It would make the ModBook really attractive for teaching, instead of just being a differently formatted MacBook.

OmniDazzle seems to work, but it just adds one more (unnecessary) layer of complexity to setting up a Keynote presentation, plus SnapZPro to record it, etc. The odds on a mistake somewhere become rather overwhelming!

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ericn

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#8 [url]

Oct 4 10 6:51 AM

 OmniDazzle seems to work, but it just adds one more (unnecessary) layer of complexity to setting up a Keynote presentation, plus SnapZPro to record it, etc. The odds on a mistake somewhere become rather overwhelming!

-watcoh

But taking care of such repetitive complications is what AppleScript is all about. How do you (would you) use Keynote, OmniDazzle, and SnapZPro together? I have a rough idea, but I'm curious about your process.

EricN

(I still can't stop OmniDazzle from freezing up, I'm guessing Quicksilver/Abracadabra is interfering)

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#12 [url]

Jan 13 11 8:53 AM

Doesn't seem to. I can't bring it up above a Keynote presentation.

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