I need some information on marking up documents on my computer
March 1, 2010 10:09 AM   Subscribe

I need some information on marking up documents on my computer

I am planning to get a Wacom tablet to mark up documents on my computer,how does this work exactly? Am I able to mark up *any* type of document? or only certain types like PDF? Will my marked up documents be able to be transferred to another PC and viewed the same way? Is marking up documents on the PC still ahead of its time? I don't want to mark up my docs now and then have everything switch to a new standard once it becomes popular.

Does anyone have any experience with the Wacom Bamboo Touch and Go? Do I need the mutitouch? For scrolling through pages etc.

posted by abbat to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It may help if you narrowed the domain down for us. What type of documents are you planning to mark up? To what end? Are you grading papers? Are you an editor at a newspaper? Do you expect your notes to be actual text or is it okay if they remain graphics? Etc.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:30 AM on March 1, 2010

I personally don't think "virtual pen" marking up documents will ever really reach mass appeal, (unless you're an architect, or lawyer/real estate where you sign e-fax documents). If it will be useful to you today, start now.

E-readers and Pad type devices (where this could be a useful technology) all work well with PDFs. As a bit of a rule, pdfs are very transferable and consistent from computer to computer. (pdf stands for Portable Document Format, after all). You'll likely be able to go back to PDFs 5 or 10 years from now, and they'd look the same. Also, just about any document you'd like to print (such as photos or text) can be placed in a PDF, and then written on.

Word has a bit more advanced functions (you can have multiple people mark up documents and track changes) but with each new version you've got to be aware of what version your partner is using. In other words, Word will always be backwards compatible, but never forward compatible. If you're using 2009, and I'm using 2004, I probably won't see your document the same way. You can still save your document in a 2004 format, but it might strip out newer features. Another option is to "print to PDF" which will save anything you can print as a PDF, and preserve it's formatting, but loose it's edibility.

It would be useful to know what exactly you're hoping to get out of this.

The multi-touch seems superfluous, as most tablets come with a scroll bar anyways, but you'd totes earn gadget-geek-cred.
posted by fontophilic at 10:34 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I am planning to mark up ebooks or articles I find on the internet. So I take it I must copy and paste the article to Open Office, save to pdf and then start marking up?

Do any of the current ebook formats allow markups?

If I mark up a document, lets say a .txt file, does the mark up data stay on the txt file itself or is that like a .save file that must tag along with it if I want to view what I marked up. Do I need a special program to open the file to view what I am marked up?

I was thinking of the Bamboo touch and go because I don't want to use the mouse to scroll down the page, it would be awkward to use the mouse while having a pen in hand. I could use the page up/down on my keyboard or set that to the buttons on the pen, how well does such a set up work?

Do I need a eraser for the pen? The bamboo T&G doesn't seem to come with one.
posted by abbat at 10:51 AM on March 1, 2010

Response by poster: Correction: The product I mentioned above should be called the Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch.

Is the anyway to edit the original post?
posted by abbat at 7:04 PM on March 1, 2010

If I mark up a document, lets say a .txt file, does the mark up data stay on the txt file itself or is that like a .save file that must tag along with it if I want to view what I marked up. Do I need a special program to open the file to view what I am marked up?

I don't know of any standalone programs that will do this, (create a markup file to go along with a txt image). This product might be of interest to you. It seems that they do allow markup of any document, and then store markups as a separate proprietary file which the device overlays. Getting those markup files from the device to a PC isn't easy, but possible. There's also a good chance of these formats going dinosaur, as you were concerned about.

I think the easiest thing would be to work with everything as PDF. You'll be greatly benefited from a PDF distiller. Treat this as a virtual printer, and then you will be marking up your virtual paper.

I don't have any experience with Open Office (which is marginally more terrible for Mac than MS Office, which is saying a lot.)

Ebooks are generally protected files, meaning you won't be able to edit them, or copy and paste text at all. This is the copyright paranoid age we live in.

As far as using the physical device, I've usually got my right hand with the pen over the tablet, and my lefthand hovering over my keyboard in the left hand position. I can hit shortcuts like ctrl Z that way. Every basic tablet comes with a few hard keys on the tablet its self. Mine has a scroll bar.

The one thing that will make a huge difference in your tablet, since you're not interested in things that will need super high resolution, is getting one that matches your screen aspect ratio. If you've got a standard screen, you might want a 4:3, widescreen tablets also exist (and are becoming standard) to match a 16:9 screen. Otherwise, you've got your hand moving naturally, as it's been trained all your life to write, but it doesn't translate exactly to the screen, it'll be squashed. With any tablet, you've got to learn to write by sight, not by feel.

You might also be interested in monitors that can turn 90 degrees, allowing you to take up the whole screen with a page when you're marking up.
posted by fontophilic at 10:45 AM on March 3, 2010

Response by poster: @fontophilic

Which tablet are you using? I am looking at Wacom's line and I am considering the Wacom Pen Tablet. It doesn't have any buttons and I am not sure if it has a scroll bar. It doesn't have an eraser. It has two buttons on the pen itself. How does it compare to your tablet or other tablets? Do you have any suggestions for what to buy?
posted by abbat at 3:38 PM on March 3, 2010

Response by poster: I just remembered that the Wacom can scroll if you press the tip of the pen down on the surface and pull. So that takes care of that question.
posted by abbat at 3:55 PM on March 3, 2010

I've got a Wacom Intuous 3 Widescreen 4x6. It's a "pro" level for painting and drawing (I'm a graphic designer). I've got different pen tips for different feelings and brush response, 4 hotkeys programed for brush sizes and a mouse which is handy for dual screen, as my pen is mapped to be a 1 to 1 of my main screen, it won't go off the screen but my mouse is mapped to both. It's probably really necessary for what you're looking to do, but I love it.
posted by fontophilic at 7:28 PM on March 3, 2010

Response by poster: OK, after reading through all this, I will go with the Bamboo Pen Tablet, it suits me fine for what I need.

Thanks for the help.
posted by abbat at 12:41 PM on March 5, 2010

Response by poster: I was thinking of going with a bigger tablet, 6 x 3.5 inches seems to be small for a 23" LCD. Will 8.5 x 5.5 be OK? Or should I go bigger?
posted by abbat at 5:19 PM on March 8, 2010

Bigger is better, if you're not concerned about cost. On digital painting sites it's common to find a thread or two dedicated to bragging, by taking a picture of yourself holding up your giant tablet. I would totally be jealous of a 8.5 tablet.

However, you can learn to use any tablet effectively. Up to you if the price difference is worth it.
posted by fontophilic at 7:16 AM on March 9, 2010

Response by poster: Looking at Wacom tablets, why is the active area so small compared to the actual tablet size? The sidespace for the buttons I can forgive however the additional sloping area on the other 3 sides makes the tablet take up so much desk space.
posted by abbat at 10:13 AM on March 9, 2010

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