Anyone use a Wacom Bamboo pad to annotate PDFs inside DTPO?

Hello all,

Not sure if this belongs in the Usage Scenario thread?

I’m curious to know if anyone here uses this: ??

Whereas I primarily use my iPad for annotating - there are times I would find it more convenient on my Mac.

This is not a criticism of DTPO - since I’ve yet to come across any pdf annotation product on a laptop/desktop that makes for easy/comfortable/intuitive annotating - it’s probably something that simply cannot work as well as on a table, given the physical constraints…

Which has me wondering about the above. I’ve had a look around, and can only find the occasional mention of annotating - but nothing really conclusive… And since I’m not familiar in the slightest with the ‘mechanics’ of coding, figured I would pop something up here, and see what comes of it…

Would this, in theory, allow me (in similar fashion to what I do on my iPad), ‘drag-select’ text in the pdf, and tap to highlight - all by moving the stylus over the device’s ‘track-pad’?

Any thoughts?

I’ve not tried the Bamboo Pad, but did have an earlier version of a similar Wacom product. The answer to your question is that, in principle, it allows one to use a stylus as though one is writing on the Mac’s screen–sort of. I found it took practice to coordinate stylus action on the little pad to the desired actions on the screen.

About 7 years ago I was doing a lot of draft sketches and scrawled chemical equations, and purchased a ModBook–a custom Mac that accepted stylus input. That did the job well for me, with (to my surprise) the added ability to recognize my cursive handwriting quite well. The ModBook used Wacom technology that allowed direct input on the computer screen from a stylus, with much greater precision than would the Bamboo Pad (or an iPad with stylus input). (But my old ModBook can’t run the current version of OS X.)

The original company that produced the ModBook failed financially and went out of business. A new company has revived the concept as the ModBook Pro, based on current MacBook Pro hardware. Their primary market is to graphic artists.

As for me, I’m an eccentric. I never mark up the PDF reference documents in my DEVONthink Pro Office databases, regarding that as akin to vandalism. Instead, I use Annotation notes. If I want to include a sketch or scrawled equation in such a note, I scan it as JPEG and paste it in. :slight_smile:

Appreciate the reply, Bill!

Re annotations in general - I’m pretty much with you on that score. Which is why I import into DTPO - the knowledge that I have a ‘clean’ copy of my pdf’s on an external, is what allows me to sleep at night! :wink:

I shake my head in bemusement at my colleagues who underline/highlight/scribble in their textbooks etc. - gives me shudders to see someone do that to a book - but clearly, there are many who do, always have, and always will… And down these parts, we owe a fair amount of our Law to people who were so inclined:

With this being said - I remain a very visual ‘learner’. Highlighting, with a very specific approach, in terms of colours used and the order of them, helps me tremendously when I need to refer back to a lengthy journal article, that I have already reviewed several months back. The colours help me to quickly identify the relevant parts, and zoom in on sections that are of interest, whilst skipping over the minutiae in between…

It was (largely) thanks to you, that I woke up to the power of the RTF-annotations in DTPO - I use them extensively as well - but, as is evident from the above, my particular workflow requires heavy highlighting…

I’m tempted to pull the trigger on the Wacom pad. It’s not too pricey. If it can get close to what I do normally on the iPad, I will be very pleased. If not - well, I might be able to use it at some point in the future, when my creative side has a chance to emerge again [i.e. when my dissertation is finished!].

First prize would be some feedback from someone who has already tried what I want to try - I will keep on looking for a few days, to see if I stumble across something useful…

I have an Intuos 3 that I will dust off this evening, Cassady. :smiley:

Thank you kind Sir! :smiley:

I look forward to hearing what you make of it!

I’ve been trying things like this a long time ago. I have a Wacom Graphire Bluetooth tablet. So the idea was simple: While reviewing, say, a thesis on my 17" MBP in Acrobat, I would use the tablet to annotate. At the time (around 2008) this was completely shot down by Acrobat Pro V. 8. It’s annotation tools were so unbearably slow on my machine (which was a state-of-the-art laptop at the time), that hand writing and free-hand lines were out of the question. I think this has improved with V. 10 and 11 of Acrobat, but ever since the advent of the iPad, I completely gave up on annotating on the Mac (and I tried several other pdf programs, too). For one, hand written comments are simply useless for search (caveat: Apple Pdf-Kit based pdf products such as DT can also not search in typed comments, a huge shortcoming, so huge, it’s hard to believe! - makes me always wonder if I’m missing something).

This is obviously highly subjective and depends on personal needs and preferences, but I decided for myself that all annotations should be typed. I now do all of this with iAnnotate on the iPad. For non-text markings, its free-hand tools are also fantastic. It integrates nicely with DTTG.

Thanks for the insights.

Agreed that annotating on a Mac is less than ideal. Especially with regards to handwritten notes etc.

I make a point of typing annotations - and have made a plan to get my iPad’s sticky-note-annotations “searchable”, with a clunky workaround. When it comes to the Mac, will simply use the RTF annotation feature.

BUT - as mentioned, I use plenty of highlighting. Ordinarily, underlining too - but on Goodreader, I can at least choose the underline colour (which is very useful) - something that doesn’t appear possible in DTPO. And working on an external screen, it’s the moving of the cursor from the selected lines of text, up to the highlight button in the toolbar (or the highlight dropdown button, to change colours) - and back down again - that is incredibly tedious, and the time-waster.

My understanding of the Wacom pad, is that the bottom left of the pad, corresponds with the bottom left of the monitor screen - and so on. I’m hoping its use will make the mechanics of highlighting similar to the experience on the iPad.

I’m with Cassady – there’s got to be a better way. I’ve been playing around with Better Touch Tool (BTT, it’s free) and a Magic Trackpad that I had purchased in a fit of CRIMP for my desktop and wanted to try out with the MacBook Air I’m using now. I think with BTT and a Pogo-type stylus a workable alternative to the Wacom is possible for simple things like moving around PDFs and highlighting.

I’m actually with you on this, too. As I said, it’s my personal preference to do this on the iPad. But I still annotate on the Mac, actually quite frequently. Just not the “thesis” and “scientific paper” stuff, but say, highlight items green or red in my monthly grant budget statements.

I have personally never warmed up to the pdf viewer in DT, and always prefer Preview. However, on annotations I find Preview also not that great. Acrobat 10 and 11 seem to be fast enough now for some very standard-compliant, solid, annotating. Text boxes and “digital” highlighting/underlining (i.e. where the annotation explicitly recognizes the underlying text) in my view are easy to do and don’t benefit from a tablet that much. The trackpad does well for me in those cases (in Acrobat, you would choose to leave the tool selected, so if you keep highlighting, you don’t have to go to the menu every time, unless you want to change color).
The real benefit of a tablet comes in with “analog” highlighting, where you essentially use free form drawing tools, just like a pen on paper. I need this on scanned, unOCR’ed docs and on troublesome text-based docs such as multi-column layouts, where the text selection tool goes bonkers.
Analog markup is hideous with the mouse/trackpad. The tablet excels there. So does iAnnotate on the iPad.
In fact, I love iAnnotate so much, I have wished at times that there would be a Mac version (fully recognizing that not all features/work practices could be translated 1:1 to a non-touch device).

Well, I think it’s a good fit personally. I don’t know much about the Bamboo Tablet (which is now Intuos, as the Bamboo is just the stylus now) but this old Intuos 3 is very cool, IMO. DEVONthink’s annotation tools may not sport every option people may want but I think it works quite well.

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Thanks Bluefrog!

Finally managed to track down a Wacom forum for the EU region, that had some posts dating back to 2011, about annotation. Registered as a new user… and… still waiting for the activation email, despite requesting 3 times for it to be sent again… :unamused:

Assuming it ever arrives, will pop something up there.

I’ve said it elsewhere, but I’m quite frankly gobsmacked that more attention hasn’t been paid to this area by companies such as Wacom. Surely there must be a sizeable market of people who need to annotate (academics/teachers/lawyers/salespersons-managers etc.), and who [for whatever reason] would prefer/need to do it on a laptop/desktop, as opposed to a tablet - and surely it cannot be that difficult to fork existing software parameters (that appear to be solely focused on the creative side of things), in order to allow for a credible, realistic annotating option?

[Rant off] :wink:

I realised that what I actually wanted to confirm was how the Bamboo pad would allow for text-selection… Since the Apple trackpad does a decent job of selecting in any event - its just the schlepp of jumping up into the menu each time I need to change colours (which is often, unfortunately).

And I now realise I’m unlikely to get an answer to this, since it’s so subjective as to what is ‘convenient’/feasible etc… Given that $60 odd is not too much to fork out - might just take the plunge, and see what it brings. At worst, I might end up with an expensive doodler - at best, something that saves me a few minutes per day through its placebo effect! :mrgreen:

Will pop something up here when/if I pull the trigger.

Thanks again for all the feedback - appreciate it!

If the $60 doodler doesn’t cut it, cubic dollars in the form of a $2,400 (& up) ModBook Pro would give you direct stylus input to screen. And you might discover previously hidden talents to launch a new career as an artist. Who knows? :laughing:

Bill - just went to have a looksie. Wow. Given my current profession, think that falls squarely into the “mid-life-crisis-with-too-much-disposable-income” category. :laughing:

Duly bookmarked! :wink:

So my $60 doodler arrived about a week ago… Figured I would hang-ten, until I had spent some time with it…

My initial thoughts were that it was going to only be an expensive doodler, and not a very good one at that.

Then I spent a bit of time playing around with its settings, in its preferences window (accessed through the Systems Preferences menu) - and things have improved immeasurably…

I’m not yet prepared to say I’m working quicker than I was with the trackpad. But the more I become accustomed to its use, the quicker things are going. I would be prepared to say that it could soon reach the point where I am able to work quicker with the Wacom pad - purely since the selection of text is quicker/more intuitive - and depending on how you set it up, the jump ‘into’ the top menu to select highlighting colours etc., can be very quick…

At times, it is a frustrating experience. My hand moves around relative to the pad, since the pen is ‘hovering’ most of the time, which sees me end up at the bottom of the pad, and therefore, at the ‘bottom’ of the screen. To ‘reset’, I need to lift the pen high enough so as to not have its movements’ picked up by the pad, and then realign things, before dropping again. Ergonomically, I also have to find a happy medium. Having said that - I’m pretty sure this will come right, as I use it more regularly.

In short - annotating on the iPad still has the advantage of it being portable (annotating in bed/on the balcony/back of a dragon) - and still has more customisation features (different colours for underlining/squiggly lines etc.) – but with this pad, things are now getting much closer together with regards to ease of use and intuitiveness, between the Mac and the Tablet.

Pleased to say I don’t regret the purchase. :slight_smile:

Thanks for all the suggestions and feedback.

Has anyone found /is using an application that permits to make quickly drawing notes with the tablet and have them in DTPO?

I am looking for an app that uses pressure sensitive information from the tablet, but is more easy than Circuspony Notebook which is too rich, as it tries to be a complete note utility a little bit like DTPO…