Jarnal - Getting Started

by David K. Levine
Jarnal is a breakthrough in computer software, comprising thousand of lines of code, and developed at enormous expense of labor and frustration. It enables you to provide your $2500 Tablet PC with the same functionality achieved by a pad of paper and a pencil costing at least several dollars.
After you successfully install and load Jarnal (don't even bother to ask how) you put your stylus to the screen, or depress your left mouse button and write. Watch the bottom "Status Panel" of the Jarnal display - it gives critical information, such as what color your pen is.

Writing tools: There are four basic kinds of writing tools - the pen, the transparent and translucent highlighters, and the bottom highlighter. Writing takes place at the front of the screen. That is, whatever you write covers whatever was already written. With highlighters, this probably isn't what you had in mind. So you can use transparent or translucent highlighters that allow what is underneath to show through. There is also a "bottom highlighter" that writes at the bottom of the screen, underneath whatever was already written. Since the bottom highlighter does cover the background, there is also a toggle to make that transparent or translucent as well. Tools can have ten different colors and four widths (Fine, Medium, Heavy and Fat). You select your tool using the Tools | Pen menu - the highlighter style menu lets you set which type of highlighter you want to use. There are also some buttons for changing writing instruments quickly. After all this intense effort choosing the perfect writing instrument, you might like to save it. You do this by choosing Tools | Choose Pen | Set Default. If your current writing instrument is a pen, this will set the default pen; if your current writing instrument is a highlighter, this will set the default highlighter. These default instruments can by Tools | Choose Pen | Get Default , or more likely by pressing the pretty multicolored button for the default pen and default highlighter. The whiteout is a white fat pen. The razor and select tools enable you to move things around; the ruler draws straight lines; the eraser erases individual strokes. User configurable options are kept in the .jaj file, and are restored when the file is opened.

Text mode enables you to create new text regions and change their width by clicking (and dragging). In text mode if you click with the mouse outside of an existing text box it create a new left upper corner of a text box. When you click inside an existing text box, the box (and text inside it) is selected. A box can be moved by dragging the plus sign marking the upper left corner. When a box is selected, the upper right corner is also visible, and the width of the box can be adjusted by dragging on that. The height of the box is always set to fit the text in the box and cannot be adjusted by the user. You may select various text features; if you choose set default text from the format menu, this chosen text characteristics will be applied to any new text regions you create. Context menus allow rapid choice of tools and other options. You can cut, copy and paste things. The part that is not obvious is how this works with pages. To select a page make sure you are not in text mode and use the select tools to select nothing. If the page is selected the word "Page" in the status bar will turn blue.

Paper: You write on paper. On the Format menu are a splendiferous variety of options for what type of paper you would like: what color, how many lines, index cards, or whatever. You can also have backgrounds, which are graphic images that appear underneath everything else.

Bookmarks: Bookmarks are akin to most recently used files. There is no limit on how many bookmarks can be remembered, and they can be deleted. Servers used for collaboration are also bookmarked. Bookmarks are deprecated and have been replaced with more standard most recently used files.

User Info: Bookmarks, server bookmarks and network save options (except promptForNetSaveName and URLEncode) are considered user information. You may choose whether or not this information should be save in the .jaj file. The default for any new file is not to save user information.

Transparency: Bottom highlighters can have three levels of transparency: opaque, translucent or transparent. This is set on a per page basis; if you are annotating background image files, you will probably want to make your highlighters transparent so you can see the background through them. Or just use the transparent and translucent highlighter, which draw at the top of the screen. This can be done under Tools | Choose Pen.

Color Trapping: The color trap dialog enables you turn turn on and off specific colors on the current page; be sure to hit Redraw Page to see the changes. This is useful if you are collaborating and assign different collaborators different pens; you can then easily see what different people did, without seeing them all. To assist in this, you can import a file mapping colors to names that will then be visible in the color trap dialog. Thanks to Peter J. G. Long for suggesting this.

Image Insertion: From the Tools menu choose Insert Image, pick an image, then click to place it on the page. You can resize it in text mode by clicking and dragging. Also clicking on an image in text mode puts in on the clipboard where you can paste copies of it it using Tools | Paste Image.

Undo and Repeat: The buttons on top resembling rewind and fast forward are a quick way to use the undo and repeat buttons.

Hot Keys and Reusing the Same Button: ctrl-a repeats the last menu item. So if you are on razor, when it switches back to pen, you hit ctrl-a and you have the razor back. This is listed in the hotkey list under help. You can get a list of hotkeys from the help menu.