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Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote, officially Microsoft Office OneNote, is a software package for free-form information gathering, and multi-user collaboration. OneNote is most commonly used on laptops or desktop PCs, but it is especially well suited for use on pen-enabled Tablet PCs, in environments where pen, audio or video notes are more appropriate than an intensive use of keyboards.

The interface metaphor underlying OneNote is that of an electronic version of the familiar tabbed three-ring binder which can be used directly for making notes, but also to gather "pages" printed or sent from other applications. Pages can be moved inside the binder, annotated at will by use of electronic ink, word-processing or drawing tools, and can contain embedded multimedia recordings and web links. As a container and repository of information gleaned from a variety of sources, a OneNote notebook is well suited for organizing information for a course or a research project. OneNote's file format (.one) was proprietary. However, in newer versions (certainly 2003 & 2007) it is XML based and Microsoft have published the schema. This and the published API has resulted in a small number of extensions being written.

One of OneNote's salient innovations is the integration of search features and indexing into a freeform graphics and audio repository. Images (eg. screen captures, embedded document scans or even photographs) can be searched for embedded text content. Electronic ink annotations can also be searched as text. Audio recordings can also be searched phonetically by giving a text key, and can be replayed concurrently with the notes taken during the recording.

Its multi-user capability allows offline editing and later synchronization and merging at the paragraph level. This makes it a useful tool for workgroups that collaborate on research whose members are not always online. Better still, OneNote is designed as a collaborative tool and allows more than one person to work on the same page at the same time - making it a shared whiteboard tool as well.

OneNote was originally marketed by Microsoft as a companion to Tablet PCs and it has excellent support for pen interfaces as noted above. However, many people have recognized its use as a general note-taking platform and it is widely used in education by both students and teachers.
Posted on May 31st, 2014
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