Full Contents of:

Dan Bricklin's blog about Note Taker HD for use on the product support page.
DanB, Wed, 27 May 2020 22:35:22 GMT
Second thread (from May 19, 2020):

Evolving my NoteTakerHD iPad app to be useful on the smaller and different-sized screens of iPhones as well as iPadOS Split View has been an interesting process. I decided to share some of what I went through. This thread addresses part of "What should the UI be?"

NoteTakerHD is a rich product with many screens for control. The main screens are very dynamic with animated UI as you invoke various tools and during editing. For those unfamiliar with it, here's an old 10-min overview of the main features on an iPad: Link to YouTube.

To help determine the UI for smaller screens, I came up with some goals and constraints for the upgrade:

The upgrade should have the full functionality of the previous iPad fixed-screen-size app, even on the smallest screens (iPod Touch/old iPhone SE 320x568px or 568x320px).

(This was tough because one minor feature could add an enormous amount of work most users would never see. However, it helped meet the Surprise and Documentation constraints, below.)

It should feel natural for the screen size -- a user may never experience another size to understand what it "should" be like on the "real" device. (More about this in a later thread.)

There should be no changes that will surprise existing users, even if they don't read upgrade notices.

This is a side-project (I have a "day job") with me being the only labor, so hours invested must be kept as low as possible. (Conflicts with the Full Functionality goal.)

Have as little code-change as possible, especially in the complicated editing and document manipulation areas, to minimize programming, inadvertent introduction of bugs, and testing.

Have as little change to documentation as possible. (There is a lot of documentation, so it is prohibitive to redo it all at this point.)

In the end, I think I met the goals. The main constraint that was hard to follow was keeping the hours invested low. I'll cover specifics about the UI changes and how I decided on them in a future thread.
DanB, Wed, 27 May 2020 22:26:14 GMT
On May 18, 2020, I started posting on Twitter (as @DanB) about the process of evolving Note Taker HD from being just for the original fixed-size iPad screen to also work in iPadOS Split View as well as on iPhones. It received a lot of interest, so I'm including the original posts here, and will continue posting later additions. (This also give me single URLs to the entire text.)

This is the first Twitter thead:

Evolving my NoteTakerHD iPad app to be useful on the smaller and different-sized screens of iPhones as well as iPadOS Split View has been an interesting process. I decided to share some of what I went through. This first thread is background.

In 2009 I released an app called Note Taker for the iPhones of the day, tuned to the 640x320px screens. That meant "zoomed editing" where you "wrote" big on an overlay of the whole screen and what you wrote was shrunk to fit on a 3"x5" "card" filling the width of the screen.

Here's a 7-minute video of that original iPhone Note Taker: Link to YouTube.

When the iPad came out, I made a new app, Note Taker HD, based on some of the same code. (In those days HD meant "for iPad screen".) The overlay writing changed into a separate Page View & Close-Up View. It was released May 7, 2010, about a month after the first iPad shipped.

NoteTakerHD was one of the first zoomed editing iPad apps and evolved over the next few years. It became quite popular -- often in the top-10 paid productivity apps. Over the last several years, though, I had not made many changes.

Eventually, the iPhone app became so old that it no longer ran on current versions of iOS. iPhones got bigger screens. iPads got Split View. However, NoteTakerHD, like many apps, was carefully designed for everything to fit exactly on the original iPads.

While I kept modifying NoteTakerHD to keep running on the latest iPadOS, it could not support new screen sizes. I use my iPhone for so many things, but I couldn't use my own ink-centric app on it. I missed jotting down phone numbers or "to buy" lists.

I finally decided to upgrade NoteTakerHD to support different sizes: Larger iPad Pro (easy) as well as smaller iPhone and Split View (much tougher). As an app with a rich UI there were so many screens to address. Two of the issues: What should the UI be? How to implement it?

More in a later thread.
DanB, Thu, 14 May 2020 03:00:08 GMT
Version 7.0.0 has been approved by Apple and should be available in the Apple App Store. This is a major upgrade, mostly related to new support for iPhone as well as iPad Split View and screen sizes different than the original iPad.

On screens that are narrower or shorter than the original iPad, such as on an iPhone, Expand and Collapse buttons are added to show and hide panels and buttons that otherwise wouldn't fit on the screen. In zoomed page editing, an additional button, the Joystick button, will be shown on the separator between the two views. Dragging from this button may be used to rapidly position the Detail Area with precision. Also when doing zoomed page editing, when the screen is horizontal (wider than high), the Zoom Tools provide an option to switch to having the Page View and the Close-Up View side-by-side instead of one above the other.

In addition, there were various bug fixes.
DanB, Sun, 27 Oct 2019 21:56:18 GMT
Apple approved version 6.12.1 and it is in the App Store for upgrading. It fixes a bug that sometimes caused crashes when outputting to PDF, includes better support of iOS 13, and other bug fixes.
DanB, Mon, 15 Jan 2018 21:56:54 GMT
Apple approved version 6.11 and it is in the App Store for upgrading. It fixes an issue when running under iOS 11 that resulted in folder listings (and some other listings) not being alphabetical. It requires iOS 11 or later.

This replaces versions 6.10, 6.9, 6.8.2, 6.8.1, 6.8, 6.7, and 6.6. iPads that cannot run versions of iOS after iOS 7 can still run version 6.8.2, which supports iPads going back to the iPad 1 running iOS 5.1.
DanB, Fri, 02 Nov 2012 20:36:18 GMT
I was able to purchase an iPad mini and a new iPad 4th-generation and do some basic testing of Note Taker HD. The app seems to run the same as it does on other iPads.

It is definitely faster for some things on the 4th-generation, which has a faster CPU chip, compared to other iPads, especially for rendering PDF pages on the screen. It's even a bit faster, in my tests, at full "retina" resolution compared to an iPad 2 (or mini) running at their lower resolutions.

The iPad mini has a much smaller screen than the other iPads, but runs Note Taker HD fine. The buttons are smaller, as you would expect, and might be harder to tap precisely with large fingers than on the larger displays. However, many people run the app using a stylus, which is much narrower than most fingers, and the buttons are not too small for that. The buttons are all the size that Apple recommended for iPad development when most of the app was written. Also, the app supports zooming of the views so it's easy to get just the right size for reading or writing using the "pinch" gesture.
DanB, Thu, 01 Nov 2012 00:46:54 GMT
Version 6.8 of Note Taker HD is now available in the Apple App Store. Make sure that you watch the "What's new in version 6.8..." video on the Videos page in the About section of this web site.
DanB, Wed, 24 Oct 2012 21:26:58 GMT
The next release of Note Taker HD, version 6.8, has been submitted to Apple and is awaiting approval. Approvals usually run from 1-10 calendar days, plus any delays to address any issues Apple finds.

New features include:

- Auto-Return as part of Auto-Advance: If you write past the new, adjustable Right Margin, the next Auto-Advance will act similar to the Return button

- Adjustable line spacing for return

- Smoother ink: Fits a curve to points instead of just adding lines, fewer "lost pen movements", better use of multiple CPUs in later iPads

- Ink resizing and rotation in Select Mode

- Support for Right-to-Left Languages

- VGA Pointer: Shows on both Page View and external display, position by dragging in Page View

- VGA Memory: Lets you specify that the position and extents of the External Video rectangle will stay the same as you go from page to page in a doc instead of being remembered on a per page basis

- Lots of other changes, like a "launch image" to improve the start up experience

As before, the app should still run well on the iPad 1 as well as all of the newer iPads (taking advantage of Retina displays). I have not gotten my hands on the new 4th generation iPad nor an iPad mini to test (I will be ordering them for testing), but, according to Apple, existing apps should run fine on them, too, so I don't expect any major issues.
DanB, Tue, 16 Oct 2012 16:46:50 GMT
The next release, tentatively named "6.8", has been in beta test for a few days. So far, it is looking pretty good. New features include Auto-Return as part of Auto-Advance, support for right-to-left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew, and ink rotating and resizing.

As I wrote last month, developing this release has taken a very long time. Much of the time went to changing some of the code that draws the page. Making it as smooth and stable as possible, including on the iPad 1, has been a lot of work. The testers seem to find it worthwhile. In some cases, the ink is smoother than before, and there are fewer lost pen/finger movements.

I'll post again once it gets submitted to Apple.

There continue to be no iOS 6 incompatibilities that I know of.
DanB, Sun, 30 Sep 2012 19:00:50 GMT
Still looking OK: As of this writing (September 30, 2012, 3pm ET) I have not received any reports of iOS 6-specific issues with Note Taker HD. I have continued to do some testing myself and have not found any problems, either. As before, if I do hear of or find any problems, I'll post here.

Given that iOS 6 has been in beta test with developers (some of whom use Note Taker HD) for quite a while, and now out in use by the public for over 10 days, from past experience I'd expect any major (any even most minor) incompatibilities to result in at least one report I would have heard of by now. However, it is always good practice to wait a little bit before upgrading anything mission-critical to a new version of the operating system.

It is also good practice to use the app's Backup All tool to make a copy of your data before upgrading, and keep a copy of the resulting "archive.xxxx.nthd" file in a separate place on your personal computer (such as by copying it using iTunes File Sharing to your desktop or some other directory). See the Help about Backup and Restore and about File Sharing.
DanB, Thu, 20 Sep 2012 13:32:47 GMT
As of this writing (September 20, 2012, 9:15 am ET) I have not received any reports of iOS 6-specific issues with Note Taker HD. I have done some testing myself and have not found any problems, either. If I do, I'll post here. Given that iOS 6 has been in beta test with developers (some of whom use Note Taker HD) for quite a while, and now out to the public for about a day, from past experience I'd expect any major incompatibilities to result in at least one report I would have heard of by now. However, it is always good practice to wait a little bit before upgrading anything mission-critical to a new version of the operating system.

It is also good practice to use the app's Backup All tool to make a copy of your data before upgrading, and keep a copy of the resulting "archive.xxxx.nthd" file in a separate place on your personal computer (such as by copying it using iTunes File Sharing to your desktop or some other directory). See the Help about Backup and Restore and about File Sharing.

I have been receiving inquiries wondering why there haven't been any updates to the app since 6.7. I can tell you, it's not for lack of development work. I have been working pretty continually since that release on new code. Most of it has been internal code needed to support new features. Testing and polishing that code takes a lot of time, as I try to keep the app as speedy and stable as I can. As was the case last year, attending the Apple World Wide Developers Conference brought up some new information that I then wanted to incorporate in the app.

I think I am near ready to start beta testing some of that code in preparation for the next release. There will be some features that a lot of people have been requesting (including automatic return as part of Auto-Advance, and support for languages written from right-to-left) as well as various bug fixes.

I'll post again once beta testing has begun and I have more information.
DanB, Sat, 14 Apr 2012 03:03:38 GMT
Note Taker HD version 6.7 has been approved by Apple and should be available for upgrade in the App Store.
DanB, Sun, 08 Apr 2012 20:15:16 GMT
Version 6.7, which adds retina display support and the other features I wrote about before, has finally been submitted to Apple and is "waiting for review". The review process, in the past, has taken from a few hours to a little over a week.
DanB, Sun, 01 Apr 2012 21:48:15 GMT
If all goes well, the next release of Note Taker HD will be 6.7. It is now being beta tested. If that holds up, I'll submit it to Apple later this week or so. Their approvals usually take around a week.

This release will support the new iPad's retina display. It looks great and should have a similar feel to the older devices. In PDF files there is a slight performance penalty, but there is not much speed penalty doing most anything else. That's partially because I was able to speed up the display of large amounts of ink on all machines, so the iPad 3 won't feel slower than the old version on the iPad 2. You will have control over the rendering with various app settings so you can choose the ink sharpness and other quality settings to be best for your use.

New features: Manual rotation of PDF annotation page backgrounds, image cropping, and the ability to filter the list of an annotation doc's pages to only show pages on which you have written. This last one lets you, for example, quickly see just those pages in a long document on which you have made marks and output those.

I know this release has taken a while. Tuning and testing take time. I've been using several iPads to do comparisons with first, second, and third generation iPads running the old and new versions. I've also fixed a few bugs.
DanB, Fri, 23 Mar 2012 02:45:00 GMT
So far there have been no additional reports of incompatibilities with the new iPad. Periodically, though, people do ask about support for the new display. Now that it's been just about a week since the new iPad came out, I figured that it was time for an update.

If all goes well, I hope to be into beta testing with an updated release sometime late next week. My first phase work on page rendering with the hi-res display seems to be done and I think I'll be able to have somewhat similar performance to the current iPad 2. We'll see with the final testing. Looking at the rendered page, it will be very obvious to users that the hi-res display is being exploited. The PDF output will be the same it has been.

The thumbnails will be rendered at a higher resolution on all devices (though they will be the same physical size on the display). On iPad 1's and iPad 2's this will result in slightly sharper looking thumbnails, and quite detailed ones on the new iPad. The extra storage for those thumbnails should only add a few percent to the document size.

In addition to the better thumbnails, all users will see some new features. One is the ability to manually rotate PDF pages before annotation by 90, 180, and 270 degrees. This can be done on a page by page basis or for all pages. I'll list the other features after there has been some more testing.

Finally, all of the button icons are in the process of being updated with hi-res versions for the new iPad.
DanB, Fri, 16 Mar 2012 19:28:30 GMT
I'm back from the Apple Store and have installed Note Taker HD on a new iPad 3rd generation. It seems to work fine. As reported by a user this morning, the ink is just the same 1024x768 anti-aliased pixels displayed in 2048x1536, so it looks just as jagged (but a sharper version of the same...). The same applies to text, shapes, and images on the page.

The icons used in the app are all the iPad 1&2 compatible "@1x" style, not the high-resolution "@2x" style. The text on buttons and elsewhere in the UI and Help is sharper.

I only heard from one other user since the first one about compatibility issues (also about the ink), and it's been 18 or more hours since the first country with lots of copies of the app got their new iPads. That doesn't mean that there aren't other issues (there always are), but at least it hasn't been a disaster requiring an immediate upgrade...yet.

I'm already working on the next release and will give it better hi-resolution support. This will give you much nicer ink than before, as well as much better PDF viewing, text, etc. There are performance challenges with doing this, so it may take a little while to complete and test; however, the resolution can make an enormous difference if you are looking zoomed out at a page with lots of small written or typed text. People who upgraded to the new iPad will hopefully be pleased with the result if they were looking to take advantage of the sharper screen.

For those switching from an older iPad: If you are using iCloud and doing a backup/restore to clone the old onto the new, it may not move your files (at least I heard a report of that from one of my users). In that case, or if you aren't using iCloud or cloning the older one, use the Backup All tool in Note Taker HD on the old iPad to create an "archive.xxxx.nthd" file. Then use iTunes File Sharing or email or Dropbox, etc., to transfer that file to the new iPad's copy of Note Taker HD. Do a Restore All there. See the Help about Backup and Restore for more information. Update: I put detailed instructions on this page.

About the new iPad: Yes. Once you've read some text at high resolution, the old iPad looks like your reading glasses are a bit off, especially side-by-side.

I haven't opened the Apple TV yet to see if there are any AirPlay issues.
DanB, Fri, 16 Mar 2012 11:37:52 GMT
I received my first report of compatibility issues with the new 3rd generation iPad this morning. I think it's just with the look of the ink on the hi-res screen, but there may be more. I have a unit on order and will be picking it up at my local Apple Store later today. Once I can do testing on that I'll post more information.

Unfortunately, we normal developers do not get early access to new versions of the hardware (or even special treatment in obtaining them when they are first shipped) so there are often issues when that hardware first comes out. Without a real unit together with its software it is hard to do appropriate development and testing. Now that I should have a 3rd gen iPad in hand (and a new Apple TV 1080p to test AirPlay), I can work on tracking down and resolving any issues. I'm sorry for any problems this delay causes users.
DanB, Wed, 01 Feb 2012 19:35:52 GMT
Note Taker HD version 6.6 was just approved by Apple. It includes four major features, as well as bug fixes and minor improvements.

The major features are sub-folders, a pen memory setting, password protection for folders, and support for the Apple iOS Data Protection API.

You can now have a hierarchy of folders inside of other folders. For example, you can have "Math" and "Chemistry" folders inside of a "Semester 1" folder.

There is a new app setting for specifying whether the pen color and thickness are remembered on a per-page basis (like previous versions of the app), or on a per-doc basis, or an app-wide basis.

Folders can now be password protected, as can the app itself. There are a variety of options associated with this to handle many situations. This is not a "hack-proof" type of protection but it can be a deterrent to someone who has borrowed your iPad for a few minutes or who has access while you are elsewhere in the room, or who has no malicious intent.

The Data Protection API is something that Apple makes available in iOS. It lets an app better encrypt its data and protect it from unauthorized access. This is something important to users with certain security requirements and should be of interest to corporate IT departments supporting the iPad. Please make sure you understand the implications of using it before you turn it on. For example, it may interfere with automatic backup of the app's data.

One of the enhancements is the support of transparency in PNG and GIF images. This should help with the clip art available on the upgraded support web site. Another is the addition of the {foldername} and {foldername-filename} Optional Fields.

This upgrade has been coordinated with the new design of the NoteTakerHD.com web site. The site makes it possible for me to provide "Extras" including lots of templates and clip art. This new material is part of the ongoing upgrading of the app. I hope you find it useful.

As usual, if you like my app and how I've been improving it, please let others know, including by rating and reviewing it on the Apple App Store. Thanks!
DanB, Mon, 23 Jan 2012 17:54:09 GMT
I've just finished giving the www.NoteTakerHD.com web site a totally new look and organization. Much of the old content is still available, along with a lot of new content. The site is no longer presented as a single page that you have to scroll through to find the different sections. It now has multiple sections, most with sub-sections, with navigation using buttons and links at the top. The site has also been made easier to use on an iPad, where many of you read it.

Initially the old version is still on www.softwaregarden.com/products/notetakerhd.

The web site was designed by Adina Bricklin, based on the old content with an eye to future needs. I wrote the Javascript to make it easier for me to maintain and populated it with the new content.

The web site was changed for a variety of reasons. It had become unwieldy for discovering and navigating the many different parts. Now that it is changed, I was able to add a new "Extras" section. This section gives me a place to present companion content for Note Taker HD, such as downloadable templates and clip art, as well as related physical material (initially some stickers).

The downloadable templates are a response to requests from many users. I had Mike Rzepka create several different PDF backgrounds, such as day planners and invoices, render them in a variety of colors, and then create blank docs using them. You can download any of these and put them in your Templates folder ready to use or further customize. See the instructions in the Extras section.

At the same time, I had Michal Blaustein create an initial set of image files that you can insert on a page. Unfortunately, most of the clip art makes use of the ability of PNG files to have transparent parts of an image. The release 6.5 version of Note Taker HD and earlier do not handle transparency (usually showing white instead). The next release, 6.6, will support transparency. I am, though, making the clip art available now, before version 6.6 is available in the Apple App Store, so I can be sure it is up and running the moment 6.6. comes out.

Version 6.6 is in final beta testing and will hopefully be submitted to Apple for approval very soon. It includes sub-folders, folder-locking, and a few other useful features.

I hope you find the new web site design helpful, and the new "Extras" useful.
DanB, Tue, 01 Nov 2011 14:50:20 GMT
Apple approved version 6.5 yesterday and it is in the App Store for upgrading. Reaction so far has been pretty good.

Many people seem to like the new color scheme and the ability to customize it with the Button Color app setting. This customization was put in for a variety of reasons. Some people like having color but may have different color preferences. Others wanted something very plain because they use the app in solemn situations (like in court) or were just distracted by the color. Yet other people needed a color scheme that was high-contrast for better visibility. (For them, I included a white/black scheme with the ability to have black button text instead of gray.) The gray bar gradient backgrounds were chosen to go as well as possible with all of the colors. Adina (who is doing a lot of the UI design) felt that the customization should be fun and simple, so she specified the "wheel" implementation which I hope you like as much as I do. I know the current options still won't make everybody happy, but it's a continuation, I hope, in the right direction.

You'll also note that some of the editing buttons have been rearranged and changed in size (most notably the Zoom and Unzoom buttons, and the View button). I hope this makes operation a bit more comfortable.
DanB, Sat, 29 Oct 2011 17:11:51 GMT
I've submitted version 6.5 to Apple for approval. This update includes copy/cut/paste between pages, customizable button colors, lots of UI tweaks, better iOS 5 compatibility (especially for many left-handed users bothered by the Notification dropdown), and lots of bug fixes. The main delay the last week or so has been fixing rarely-encountered but important bugs already in 6.0.1 that came to light during testing or through user reports.
DanB, Tue, 11 Oct 2011 15:59:57 GMT
I am putting the final touches on a new upgrade, probably called 6.5, that I hope to submit to Apple for approval next week if all goes well. I will be waiting for the general release of iOS 5 to shake out any incompatibilities that I haven't found in my testing.

This new release will address some cosmetic and other minor issues with iOS 5 (but not require iOS 5) and lots of bug fixes. It will also add a few new features that have been frequently requested. These include two main items: Copy/cut/paste of ink and other user-entered material from one place or page to another within the app, and a slightly different color scheme with the addition of a way for you to change the button colors to one of 16 options.

I'll post again when I have a better idea of when this will be available.
DanB, Fri, 12 Aug 2011 02:35:19 GMT
A quick bug-fix release is now out, 6.0.1. It fixes three bugs: The "search filter crash" bug described below, a bug with the no-thumbnail 1-doc per row listing, and a bug with the size of the page view and text typing area when editing. It is too risky to make too many changes at once without lots of testing and I wanted to get this out quickly and safely, so there are no other changes.

I was able to track down the "search filter" bug with detailed help from a user. 6.0.1 will hopefully not have this problem, and also let those who have encountered it but not edited their data files to fix it now run the app without crashing when they try to preview or change filters. User help aided reproducing and fixing the other bugs as well.

Major new releases of most apps have early issues. Note Taker HD has never really been an exception (of course). Version 6.0 changed many aspects of the app. Even with extensive beta testing you can't encounter (or notice) all of the nuanced variations that may have worked before or should be in new features. When you suddenly have thousands and thousands of users upgrading, statistically you're bound to find more. Help from users, though, has made it possible for me to find those problems quickly and fix them. Many thanks to those users from me and on your behalf! Thanks to Apple for expediting the approval. Hopefully we won't have this too many times for this release...

As usual, a new release archives all App Store ratings and reviews, wiping the "slate" clean. If you like the product, please don't forget to let others know. If you don't, let me know why. Thanks!
DanB, Wed, 10 Aug 2011 16:05:27 GMT
There appears to be a bug with the "Search" filter. Right now it is best that you don't use that filter until I release an upgrade with a fix.

The symptom is that if you have used a Search filter there is a good chance that the app will then crash at various later points in the Managing Window. Once this happens it will be hard to use the app. If you have successfully used Search already, but have successfully set the search back to empty (such as by pressing the Reset Filters button), you probably won't encounter the crashes from that particular use.

If you encounter this bug, see "Recovering from the Search Filter bug". The bug is only related to the Search setting and should not affect your other data.
DanB, Tue, 09 Aug 2011 01:53:21 GMT
Note Taker HD version 6.0 has been approved by Apple and is now available in the App Store. It's a major upgrade. It includes: Folders, a new UI look and more powerful managing of documents and pages, four user-settable preset pens, single-file full Backup/Restore and multi-document Save/Load, a zoomed editing wrist guard, swiping and full-screen added to page preview, and many other bug fixes and improvements.

There's a new Overview video that shows it in action. The online copy of Help here has been updated.

Creating this version has taken a long time. It changes the UI throughout the app (though not the basic writing experience), changes the way data is stored, and adds lots of features. All of this had to be integrated which added to the time. It's a good basis on which to build as I continue to work on the app.

I hope you like how it turned out! (If you do, please let others know. Upgrading an app resets the App Store reviews and ratings.) Check back here periodically to find out about any bugs or other issues.
DanB, Mon, 08 Aug 2011 22:15:58 GMT
Version 6.0 was submitted to the Apple App Store last Friday. We now have to wait until it is approved, which usually takes 1-8 days. I've been working on making a new Overview video to go with it and upgrading my Help-to-HTML converter to handle the new button "look."

In the meantime, Mike Rzepka (the guy who created the 60+ cool shapes that went into version 5 and the "Note Taker HD guy" image you see on the support site, and who created the new icon you'll see with version 6.0) set up and is maintaining a Facebook page about Note Taker HD. The Facebook page is an "enthusiast" page, not "official" like this support site. (If you like it, thank Mike, not me.) I don't spend much time on Facebook and I felt it was best to have someone who likes that genre do the app's first presence there. Being Facebook, it will probably be more interactive than this web site. I'll try to be responsive to Mike if he needs any help.

Take a look at Mike's Note Taker HD Facebook page. Don't forget to click the "Like" button if you like it.
DanB, Tue, 02 Aug 2011 02:08:48 GMT
Development of the next release of Note Taker HD has moved along far enough to start beta testing. So far the testing has gone well, but there is still more testing to be done and more Help to be updated. I'll post again when I submit the release to the App Store for approval.

One of the additional features I was able to get into the next release is user-settable pen presets. There are four of them and they make it much easier to use multiple line colors and widths on a page.
DanB, Tue, 12 Jul 2011 14:48:58 GMT
As I wrote in the last blog post, I have been working continually to improve Note Taker HD. However, I have not sent out a new release yet. What's happening?

In early June, I went to California for a week to attend the annual Apple World Wide Developers Conference to learn the latest about the iPad and iOS. Like many attendees, I met with various people from Apple to get feedback about my new design and other aspects of my app. This was all very helpful, but given the changes coming to iOS and other feedback, I realized that I should make additional changes as part of this update of the app. These additional changes (some of which are only internal, but will help in the future) have made this development phase take even longer. I feel that it should be worth it in the long run.

The changes I'm making include a major reworking of the User Interface, especially in the List of Pages. (Editing will feel pretty much the same, even if the "look" is a bit different and there are a few additional features.) This was needed as part of adding Folders and improving Backup, and to make it easier to add additional capabilities in the future. Unfortunately, these changes are "all or nothing" in that I can't release it in partial updates.

I know enough from experience not to promise any dates until I have "final" code. I do see "light at the end of the tunnel" and have major new features pretty much complete. When I have a better idea (such as when the next release is in beta test) I'll make another blog post.

Thank you all for the support through this upgrade. I continue to try to respond to emails as I have in the past. I'm really pleased with how this new release is coming together and hope you will be, too.
DanB, Fri, 06 May 2011 19:37:50 GMT
I haven't updated the "Recent Mail" section here recently. While I continue to get, and respond to, email every day, most of it is pretty much similar to what you've seen so far (Folders? Android? How does Auto-Advance work?, etc.), or not appropriate for sharing. In many cases I send the person a link to one of the items already here or in the Help. At some point, I'll put up some more.

However, I have been listening very carefully to the requests for new functionality and have been hard at work improving my app. With the recent upgrading of Dropbox that allows Note Taker HD to create an output PDF and send that file to Dropbox using "Open In", there is less pressure for that form of output to Dropbox so I can spend more time doing a more full implementation of a variety of functions.

The most common request has been for some form of Folders for organizing groups of pages. I have been working on providing that. However, in my normal style of trying to do relatively "deep" implementations, I am coupling that with related changes to the List of Pages and how pages in general are stored that should be helpful all around. For example, I hope to remove the "special" nature of the first sheet, and some other unpopular restrictions.

I'm also adding a few "tweaks", such as allowing you to switch between pages and sheets in the List of Pages and in View mode by swiping across the page view.

There will hopefully be other commonly requested additions in the next version. Release is still a while off (not in the next few weeks) in order to give me time to get as much in as possible. As it gets closer, I'll provide some status updates here. As long time users have seen, I try to provide a lot of new functionality in major upgrades.

In the meantime, thank you very much for all the wonderful reviews and good feedback, and thanks for recommending my app to friends and colleagues.
DanB, Wed, 20 Apr 2011 23:18:46 GMT
I received another interesting sample of someone's notes. This one, from Wan Nadzim, is from a biochemistry class. It is even denser than the previous ones. You can see it in the Samples section of this page.

It would be nice to see a totally different type of use than class notes, though the ones I've gotten so far have been pretty cool and show off the app well.
DanB, Wed, 20 Apr 2011 23:16:30 GMT
I got an email from a user who pointed out that Dropbox recently updated their iPad app and now supports "Open In..." This means that you can now send your PDF output to Dropbox by using Note Taker HD's Open In output capability. I tried it and it worked for me. This is great news for many people. Thank you, Dropbox!

I'm still working on adding more direct Dropbox support in a future release (along with Folders and we'll see what other features), but this at least makes it easier without using an additional intermediate app, which some people have been doing until now.
DanB, Sun, 03 Apr 2011 18:04:13 GMT
I'm added another sample of output sent to me by a user. This is another one that involves learning Mathematics, but this one was done by a teacher and includes material actually created in class "on the whiteboard" using a projector connected to the iPad. You'll find it at the bottom of the support page as "Mark's Teaching Material".

Does anybody have any good examples worth sharing that show other uses besides use in class (or mathematics)?
DanB, Sun, 03 Apr 2011 02:18:55 GMT
Apple approved the new version 5.1 release a few hours ago and it should now be available in the App Store and as an upgrade for existing users.

This is the first release I did after buying an iPad 2 for testing. It lets you capture directly from the iPad 2 camera as an additional option in the list of image sources (and fixes a bug with portrait images captured that way in the previous release). It also has some additional App Settings for VGA output that are helpful for both the VGA adapter and the new Digital AV (HDMI) adapter. These settings let you turn off Note Taker HD's special echoing of just a user-selectable part of the screen and let you use the iPad 2's display mirroring to see the entire screen (as some of you requested). It also gives you some control over the external screen resolution used if more than one is available.

These features were needed to better support the iPad 2 and necessitated having a release sooner rather than later. However, knowing that most users don't have an iPad 2, I added some other "goodies" for everybody to this release. First, I had Mike create some additional shapes in response to a few requests from users. These are for doing flow charts and related diagrams. They all use an optional grid for positioning and sizing to make it easy to line things up. These shapes brought up an additional need for something that drawing apps normally need anyway but that hadn't made it into the app yet: The ability to move objects (and ink) to the front or back of the display order. I was able to also get this into the release.

There are also some other minor tweaks and bug fixes. I've also updated the help, both in the app and on the support site.

All this made it worth bumping the version number from a 5.0.x to 5.1. I hope you like it.
DanB, Wed, 30 Mar 2011 01:08:41 GMT
I just submitted a new release to Apple for approval. Once approved it will be available as a free upgrade to existing users. I won't update the Help and other information here until after that occurs.

In addition to the major features added in version 5.0/5.0.5, version 5.1 has a few new features and some bug fixes: New Move to Front and Move to Back buttons, over 20 new shapes including many commonly used for flow chart diagrams, extra support for the iPad 2 camera and the Digital AV HDMI adapter, and a fix to the rotated EXIF image bug that affected the iPad 2.
DanB, Fri, 25 Mar 2011 01:55:48 GMT
A user sent me an example of his Linear Algebra class notes. I thought it was a great example of use (better than the Gettysburg Address in my handwriting that I had been using) so I've added it to the support page. You'll find it at the bottom of the page as "Ben's Math Class Notes". Thanks, Ben!
DanB, Wed, 16 Mar 2011 14:23:34 GMT
As I craft this support site, I finally bit the bullet and did something I've been meaning to do for a long time. I wrote a converter (it's in Perl, for techies who care about such things) that takes the special formatted file that drives the Note Taker HD help system and turns it into a single HTML file. It was a little tricky, because it needed to do things like render the buttons correctly in HTML instead of the iOS-specific code in the app. It also lists all the image files that go along with it that are built into the app so I know what to copy to this web site. The results should be a pretty faithful representation, except for some minor layout differences with IE before IE 8. You'll find the latest help posted on www.notetakerhd.com/help.
DanB, Tue, 15 Mar 2011 02:05:06 GMT
Rather than mix my comments and emails, which is what I originally thought I'd do, I decided to break them apart into two streams. This way my comments won't get lost in a long stream of emails, and I can more freely add emails without trying to make them fit in style-wise with blog writing. If you email me and don't want it listed please mention it. I'm not using names for now, unless you ask for it in the email.
DanB, Mon, 14 Mar 2011 20:14:24 GMT
I let my Apple business sales person at the local Apple Store know right away that I wanted an iPad 2 even before Steve Jobs got off the stage March 2nd. I was going to be out of town the day they went on sale, so I did all the paperwork in advance and had it waiting for me this morning when I went over.

To have something different (and to check the "look" of things as my app's UI evolves) I got a white one.

As soon as I got it home I plugged it in and got it started. I installed Note Taker HD, and tried different things. It seemed pretty good. Faster at some things, too.

Then I tried the camera. I took a picture of myself and inserted it. Oh, no! It was distorted. I took a picture with the back camera and things looked good. Hmm. What's the bug? No reports, yet. (It's nice to find bugs before a lot of others run into it and are bothered enough, or kind enough, to report it.)

It turns out that portrait orientation photos have special "EXIF" information about how they are rotated, and my code was not using that appropriately. Landscape (horizontal) photos, like those I took with the camera on the back, and images that are edited (most that I get from the web for testing) don't have rotation information that causes the bug, so this really didn't show up as much until now.

Well, I knew the "no new issues, yet, in 5.0.5" entry on the bug list wouldn't last long. Sigh. That's why you always have to test and test, and why we developers have the "tax" of needing to get new devices right away. While this bug affects images taken with regular cameras (when you turn them sidewards if they store that info) it was the iPad 2 that first made it show up.

When I make an update that includes better support for the iPad 2 camera (with a "Photo from camera" button or something), and that addresses other issues I'm sure to find with the new capabilities Apple has given us, I'll address this one, too.
DanB, Thu, 10 Mar 2011 21:42:10 GMT
In addition to this Note Taker HD-specific blog, for over 11 years I've been updating a personal blog, Dan Bricklin's Log, on the www.bricklin.com web site.

I've posted an essay on that blog with some thoughts about this latest release.

To read it, go to: Note Taker HD version 5 -- a real productivity app on the iPad.
DanB, Thu, 10 Mar 2011 21:38:10 GMT
I've finally done an overhaul of the support page for Note Taker HD. The old one, which has been around since the app first came out, was just one long scrolling list of information for prospective purchasers, samples, videos, bugs, FAQs, and more. It was very hard to find what you needed, especially for existing users.

The new design is aimed much more at existing users. It has a place for news, bugs, frequently asked questions, and a new blog. The lists are made easier to scan visually by highlighting the title and then including just an excerpt of the details in a smaller font with a link to the full text.

This blog is provided to let me share more of the conversations I've been having (or wanting to have) with many users by email that don't easily fit into those other categories.
Updated: Wed, 27 May 2020 22:36:56 GMT
Note Taker HD is a product of Software Garden, Inc., for the Apple iPad.