Friday, January 2, 2004
Posted by Tim Allen in "SOFTWARE" @ 11:00 AM
PhatPad from PhatWare Corporation is on the face of it a simple note taking tool along the lines of the built-in Notes application. However, on closer examination it has enough additional features and usability enhancements to make it a far more useful application. I looked at version 1.1.
Note Files and Formats
PhatPad notes are stored in files using its own proprietary file format. Each note can consist of up to 1,000 virtual 'pages' of handwriting, and the number of notes you can have is only limited by your storage memory. If you're launching PhatPad for the first time, or after manually shutting it down (there's no Exit option), then you're presented with a new note automatically. Otherwise you get the file browser.
Figure 1: The file browser; PhatPad notes can be stored anywhere.
PhatPad allows you to create notes with a variety of resolutions ranging from the actual screen size up to 1024 by 1024, and comes with enough zoom options to make the most of them. There's no wordwrap though as you zoom in and out.
Figure 2: The different zoom levels.
The key to PhatPad is its so-called digital ink technology, which makes handwriting on the screen very smooth. There's no jerkiness and no delay between moving the stylus and something appearing on screen, which is a marked improvement over Pocket PC's built-in Notes app. It does almost feel like writing on paper as you can scribble things down very quickly indeed.
Figure 3: Your handwriting with PhatPad will only be as good - or bad - as your writing with paper.
You can also choose to write in a variety of colours and line thicknesses to simulate your favourite pen.
Figure 4: Ink settings.
You can switch to 'Erase' mode and every line you touch with the stylus is magically deleted. This works in a fairly intelligent fashion, to the extent that you can delete most words with a single swipe.
Figure 5: Rubbing out a word in erase mode.
There's also a 'Select' mode, with the usual Cut, Copy and Paste options, but you can only copy and paste from one page to another; there's no way to re-position the 'cursor' elsewhere on the same page. Similarly you can't drag and drop the selection. Other editing features include Undo and Redo and the ability to Clear or Delete the current page.
Each PhatPad note can also optionally include an additional single text note, which consists of text either typed using the soft input panel (SIP) or recognised from your handwriting - more on this later.
Figure 6: The text note; the divider can be moved up or down.
You can choose whether to show or hide the text note.