Jarnal Home Page - Java Notetaker and PDF Annotator

by David K. Levine, Gunnar Teege, and Gerhard Hagerer
updated 12/13/2014
Trouble Shooting
Release Notes
Original Documentation

Jarnal is an open-source application for notetaking, sketching, keeping a journal, making a presentation, annotating a document - including pdf - or collaborating using a stylus, mouse or keyboard. It is similar to Microsoft Windows Journal and to the earlier Mimeo whiteboarding and Palm notepad applications. There is also a commercial knockoff of Jarnal called PDF Annotator - for $50 you can enjoy a subset of the capabilities that Jarnal provides for free.

Basic installation: You should have java installed on your computer. Download
jarnal-install.zip unzip it into a directory of your choosing and run either jarnal.cmd (windows) or jarnal.sh (mac, linux).

What is new: Added the command line switch -ico. Uses text labels for buttons as a workaround for broken java installation on chromebooks. Information about locking down the collaboration tool. A tutorial from Daniel Kopsas. A method of capturing Sony Ebook reader annotations into Jarnal. Great new icons from Jon Harsem, Davidson Gerard, Bernardo, and Mick Enright. Use your imagination: if you have good ideas how to use them we'll put them into the release. Or use them to create your own distributions.

For the Macintosh
Clinton Smith is working on a proper application that can be dragged to your application folder, and will enable you to open jarnal by double-clicking on pdf files and so forth. The test version is now available. Let me know of an problems. Also available
Sven Augustin's .dmg file. This is "mac-like" although you can't drop documents into the dock and the internet update feature won't work.

Cool Stuff: A place on the web where you can generate all sorts of nice pdf graph paper
(via Joe Tonge). WinPenPack a complete set of free tools for tablet pc's - including of course jarnal.

Credits: Mark Stephens and jpedal.org for their excellent support for rendering PDF; Bruno Lowage, Paulo Soares and iText for their excellent support producing PDF. Thanks to Gerard Davidson for some nice icons.

Requirements: Java 2 1.4.2 or later. Jarnal runs both as an application and as an applet.

Demos: There is a simple on-line demo
and and a more advanced (and fun) demo demonstrating networked usage.

You may be interested in one user's experience using Jarnal for teaching. Here are some pictures of Jarnal in use at a Dutch school
school1 school 2school 3
And here are some sketches made using Jarnal by someone who is a
much better artist than I.
Tablets rule Eat
Jarnal screenshot
Why is this program better than Microsoft Windows Journal or One-Note? Because it is written in Java files can be edited and viewed on any platform, and the editor/viewer is freely redistributable - not to speak of customizable. MS Journal files can be edited only on a Tablet PC and viewed only with Windows XP or 2000. One-Note also uses proprietary file formats that can be viewed only on a few platforms, and edited only by purchasing the latest version of Microsoft Office. In Jarnal the files are in a standard non-proprietary format, human readable, and usable by other applications. By default, no information identifying the author is stored in the file. Jarnal also offers document annotation capabilities, collaboration and networking connectivity not available with the MS programs. [If you are interested in this software and run Linux, you should also take a look at Gournal and Xournal . Also there is another Java note-taking program NoteLab that may be of interest.] Why is this program better than PDF Annotator? Because it does for free everything PDF Annotator does and much more: cross-platform support; the ability to enter text from the keyboard; combine pdf documents and rearrange pages; the ability to annotate faxes and other non-pdf documents - to name a few. NEW: Now one of "100 Awesome Open Source Tools for Writers, Journalists, and Bloggers" .

Other Useful Information:

  • Some notes on converting DHW files produced by ACECAD's DigiMemo digital notepads to Jarnal format.
  • A module for annotating PDF file attachments in the Wikindx bibliography management system using Jarnal, and some notes on it.