Going Paperless Progress

I’m always trying to lighten my environmental footprint. I’m not doing perfect, but I always strive to do better. One of the ways I aim to do that is by going paperless.

I also want to own fewer things and to be more mobile. So my daily processes should need little else other than my Microsoft Surface Pro 3. That device has gone a long way to making my day paper-free.

I work from various locations that are not my home office — coffee shops, my parents’, my wife’s parents’, etc. I don’t always have access to a printer.

For editing fiction, I like to go through the completed manuscript with a pen to mark it up. I could print it off and do it that way but, as noted above, that goes against what I’m trying to do.

In this post, I’ll be looking at two apps for Windows tablets that streamline day-to-day tasks — taking notes and annotating documents.

Drawboard PDF

Available on the Microsoft Store.
Cost: ~$12 CAD (I got it during a promotion for around $5)
Vendor Link: Drawboard

I had been looking for an app to annotate PDFs for ages. I happened across Drawboard PDF one day while researching something completely unrelated.

Advantages of using Drawboard PDF:

  • Opens where you left off
  • Keeps the last tool selected
  • Keeps the same view that you left off in

In this image, I’m editing a sci-fi book that is coming to Amazon and other vendors soon. The title has changed since.

You can start working again, straight-away. No fuss, no configuring anything. Even with more expensive software like Adobe Acrobat DC I had to take a minute or so to get back to where I was. But, then, Acrobat is not designed exclusively for marking PDFs up.

I’ll have a more exhaustive review of this app, about using it to edit fiction, coming up soon.

Bamboo Paper

Available on the Microsoft Store.
Cost: $8.00 CAD for the Pro Pack
Vendor Link: Wacom

One thing I’ll note first: I could not find out how much this thing would cost me. The Microsoft Store told me it had in-app purchases and the range of those prices but I couldn’t tell if I’d have to buy a few at that price. The price noted above is what you’ll pay, as of publishing date, for all the extra tools and such — the Pro Pack.

Wacom makes great products. I’ve owned a couple Cintiqs and an Intuous tablet over the years and have had no complaints (other than the price). So it was no surprise that this app is also great.

The app allows you to create as many notebooks as you need and there are different paper and cover options for various tasks — note-taking, sketching, more technical drawing, and so forth.

I have used it to take meeting notes during a phone call and it worked great, no issues whatsoever. I’ve also done a few sketches with the various drawing tools.

You can export entire notebooks as PDF or export single pages as PDF or PNG.

It doesn’t have layers, which seems to be a complaint from some people, but I actually don’t mind. I want it to be like paper. I just want to get my ideas down, not to do a finished drawing.

One issue I’ve noticed is that it tends to close when left idle for an extended period. But it has never crashed while I’ve been using it.

My only other caveat with it was that there was no option to save notebooks to a cloud service, like Dropbox or OneDrive. I have found a somewhat advanced solution for that. Look for a post about that soon.

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