PDF Annotation: Inking

I read a lot statistics PDFs. As I do, I like to write with a stylus on the page. For example, I will write alternative forms of an equation in the margins or write out steps of proofs that aren’t clear. I also like to circle parts of equations that are most relevant (the highlight tool often does a poor job of this). I would really like if Zotero’s new PDF reader could support the ink annotation tool for these purposes, especially as part the iPad app.
  • edited March 10, 2021
    That's read _and_ write inking, right?
    edit: and while I'm not using a stylus, I'm seeing this more and more among academics who are heavy tablet users, so if at all possible, this makes a lot of sense to me.
  • Yeah reading and writing with a stylus. I don’t care about handwriting recognition, but being able to mark up with a stylus would be immensely useful for me.
  • edited March 11, 2021
    Yes, I would agree with this.

    For inking, my primary concern here would be iOS, but I see this feature as relevant on all platforms. On iOS, people will probably just keep using Papership unless the new app supports ink. On iOS, when you tell one app to open a doc in second app, the connection back to the first app is lost and the document is simply copied over to the new app. So, for iOS, the built-in PDF markup tools are critical (inking is among those tools). See this thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/GradSchool/comments/dcdp45/pdf_annotating_app_for_ipadapple_pencil/.

    On my Samsung Android tablet with stylus, my workflow has been to use Zootero and edit in my preferred PDF markup app (Xodo, which supports dark mode and inking, but doesn't have the incredibly helpful color selector that you have included to the new Zotero PDF markup tools). Somehow, on Android, Zootero knows the file was edited in Xodo and then reuploads my edited version when I reenter Zootero. It's too bad that iOS doesn't support the same workflow. If iOS does allow this, I haven't been able to figure out how to make that work.

    So for my workflow, the built in markup tools are welcome on the PC but are even more essential on iOS. On iOS I see them as critical to the success of the new app. The key here is ability use the Apple Pencil for inking ability (with very little chrome taking up screen real estate). On PC, I use a Surface Pro, and I could definitely see myself using the built-in PDF tools if they were a bit more touch/stylus friendly. These tools are fantastic for mouse usage (which is most of what I do), so I'll probably be using this new interface quite a bit. But for touch, the new Zotero interface is still fairly janky in scrolling and pinch-to-zoom responsiveness, so I'll probably keep using Drawboard for tablet mode on my Surface for now until the touch responsiveness is smoother. (Plus, Drawboard also has a dark mode--both for the app and for the PDF itself, for which it reverses the colors.)

    All of this is apart from the fact that I'm excited to see this and am looking forward to seeing where it goes!
  • I also would love to see this. I read most of my PDFs nowadays in my iPad with the Pencil, and also like to do annotations on the margins, etc

    On Windows would be great as well, since when I annotate PDFs on Windows I sometimes use the pen of my digitizer-enabled laptop (other times I use the mouse, especially for quick, on-the-spot highlighting, and I’m already very excited for the new PDF editor even if just for this purpose :D)
  • @internationaled Totally agree. Papership is irreplaceable unless zotero for ios supports ink.
  • I agree. Inking is one of the great features of paper ship,
  • +1 on inking (read and write)

    I currently use ZotFile with PDF Viewer on iOS. Would be happy to pay for PDF viewer integration into Zotero iOS if that is a path forward for others too.

  • Ditto all. This would be a great feature and I too would support this as a paid feature.
  • @bwiernik: Dito. Inking is also very important for me.
  • Chiming in to help the devs triage this request: Inking while being able to read PDFs on a vertical screen is the sole reason I even got an iPad for grad school. I normally use it to circle important equations freehand (I agree with OP that highlight is a poor tool for this), make notes in the margin and fill in proofs that are left as an exercise to the reader.

    I've been itching to streamline my workflow with a native Zotero app + integrated PDF reader instead of Zotfile + PDF Expert, but for me inking support while reading and reviewing papers is non-negotiable in the final version of the iPadOS app.
  • edited March 30, 2021
    So, to add my opinion to this very vocal thread...
    On inking (as in writing on the paper freehand) I will not elaborate, everybody needs it!
    I would just like to add that sometimes a highlight is just a highlight, meaning that it just helps to point to important info on a paper, make reading easier (at least to some of us) and finally help one revise. In this context, no, we don’t need to crowd our notes with hundreds of annotations because we do not mean to extract and preserve them, we just want a visual on the paper to guide us to some salient points. Other apps have recognized that and have separate functionalities for highlighting and annotating.
    Oh and please please please if you intergrate highlighters, make them go BEHIND text! Really, no one wants blurred text...
  • +1 Would be great to have an inking!
  • +1 as well!

    Using the pdf reader as a proxy for paper means having all the focus and control that accompany handwriting. The distraction of correcting the recognition software undermines the point of using the tablet, for me at least. I would certainly support as a paid feature.
  • +1

    Many little thoughts/comments/ideas just aren't worth the effort of typing out on a tablet. My most common annotations are things like "wow!" or "ugh" or "no" or "yes!" - definitely not things I'm going to commit to the typed annotations. But they're extremely important visual cues, and help with engaging with/understanding the text.
  • +1 here as well

    I would be happy to pay for it, 100%!
  • +1 as well.
    It is essential when we use Surface, iPad, or other tablets.
  • +1 to all above.

    I do most of acedemic pdf reading on my computer with a (Wacom) pen tablet, allowing me to do litle ink scribbles in the margins, underlining words, etc. I'm currently using Microsoft Edge as my PDF reader because it's fast, tabbed, and supports inking fairly nicely, but I would love switching to Zotero's built in reader if it supporting this!
  • I would gladly pay for the feature. Currently using Zotero + OneDrive + PDF Expert, would love to just use Zotero if it had Apple Pencil support!
  • +1 to everything above. This is the only feature that matters to me, and I would happily pay for it.
  • +1 but not only for Apple junkies
  • +1 for all of this.
  • + 1.

    I am really torn between annotations by hand, which allow for a much more active engagement with details in figures and equations, and using the new built-in reader, for its great text highlighting and note-taking capabilities.

    I would mainly use it with the Apple Pencil because Zotero's Windows version is not quite touch-friendly and the iOS app is fabulous.
  • edited May 22, 2021
    This is the only thing holding me back from the beta app, which I love otherwise. I can’t read without wanting to write. And writing as well as or instead of highlighting makes for better reading.
  • +1 !! I guess a good starting point would be to make the Zotero library accessible from Files, so that one could use the iOS native pdf reader and annotate it with the pencil. This is actually possible in the desktop version, where one can locate the pdf and annotate (or replace) it.
  • +1
    It would be very convenient for users to mark and write. Sometimes handwriting recognize is not so convenient.
    Hope this feature added!!
  • +1
    This would be the last, missing feature for a continuously smooth workflow!
  • +1 to every post above!
  • +1
    All the above mentioned features would be extremely useful for everyone using a tablet. Thank you for your great work!
  • @dstillman Please add Apple Pencil freeform inking support to the iPadOS app!

    In particular, I hope that Zotero can store the inking annotations separately from the PDF file itself, making syncing faster. (See ReadCube Papers for an example of this.)

    Currently, I'm using ZotFile (separate from the Zotero iPadOS app) which stores the PDF inking annotations directly in the PDFs, which is bad for two reasons:
    1) The inking annotations are stored in the PDF, while other typed-text annotations are stored in the Zotero database. This separation makes it tricky to track which annotations are stored where.
    2) When inking annotations are stored in the PDF, the PDF tends to balloon in file size. This is particularly terrible when the PDF itself is already large to begin with (e.g., a scanned document), because then syncing changes to the PDF takes forever.
  • +1

    Supporting inking annotations would help a lot. I have a habit of writing down ideas when reading. That is why I choose to use notebook apps to read papers. If a reference management app can integrate notebook functions, it would be of great convenience.
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