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Plumbago

an app for Windows

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The simplicity of a physical notepad and pencil is hard to beat with its ease of use, predictable interface and creative abilities.

Plumbago is an exploration into how Surface can expand upon that simple and intuitive interface of the original. New capabilities include “inifinte paper” and handwriting beautification, which are both capabilities unique to the digital domain.

Video

Meet the team

Microsoft Research Central Engineering Team
"We can create a more productive, simple, and satisfying notetaking experience."
Gavin Jancke

Garage Team

Gavin Jancke, Lynn Powers, Darren Gehring, Rick Gutierrez, Ann Paradiso, Larry Zitnick, Chuck Needham, Irina Spiridonova, Wei-ge Chen, Jim St. George, Tony Carbary

Microsoft Research Central Engineering Team

Redmond, WA

Backstory

More than two years ago, the team set out with a passion to make the tablet note-taking experience as creative, beautiful, and personal as it is with physical pen or pencil and paper. The team also wanted to make the shortcomings of physical note taking disappear. By using sophisticated algorithms, Plumbago makes your handwriting more beautiful. It also provides you with infinite paper, so that your inspiration need know no boundaries. Plumbago, the Latin word for graphite, fills a niche between artist’s focused apps and productivity notes apps.

“Can we improve a person’s handwriting when using the surface? Can we improve notebook navigation? Handwriting beautification requires efficient stroke matching across the thousands of strokes written by a user. If matching strokes can be found, the strokes can be ‘averaged’ to produce more consistent and easier to read handwriting. For notebook navigation we explored ‘infinite paper’, which allows a user to treat a notebook as a discrete set of pages or as one large continuous piece of paper. The UX choices and efficient implementation are critical to making a seamless experience.”

Interested in learning about the magic behind handwriting beautification? Larry Zitnick shared his research at SIGGRAPH in 2013. Read the paper to learn how this fascinating technology works.

UPDATE

Your favorite note-taking app just got better. The latest version of Plumbago now supports cloud syncing, which enables you to sync your notebooks across devices and store them in the cloud with Microsoft OneDrive. With the new Calligraphy Pen tool, you can practice the art of calligraphy or enhance your drawings. In addition, you can create a notebook in portrait orientation, and you can save your entire notebook as a PDF file for easy sharing, archiving, or importing into other applications. Plumbago now remembers your stroke style between notebook sessions, which makes for quicker and more noticeable handwriting smoothing effects. And we fixed the writing latency issue, as well as several other minor issues. While we couldn’t fit everything in this release, we did prioritize the fantastic feedback we received and updated Plumbago with the most requested features and fixes. Get the latest version and let us know what you think. Thank you for helping us improve Plumbago.