Anoto Live PDF – A Step Forward or A Step Backward from PenDocuments Pro

Anoto is the Swedish firm that has enabled digital pens with its patented dot pattern technology. Anoto is releasing Live PDF as a replacement for PenDocuments Pro.  At first glance, this appears to be a major step backward.  When you dig a bit deeper, however, the benefits of Live PDF become clear.

By way of background, Anoto had originally licensed PenDocuments Pro from Talario… the developer of Xpaper and an Anoto Silver Partner.  They acquired the Xpaper technology from Talario in December 2011.

Xpaper users appreciated its user interface.  It not only managed the printing process but also provided the ability to categorize documents and to add keywords for rapid retrieval.  On its own, it was the perfect single user or departmental application for creating and managing smartpen based documents.

The ability to export the document’s metadata and the individual pen strokes, combined with built in workflows also made Xpaper a viable tool 3rd party development.  ChasmTech, for example, was able to use Xpaper as a foundation tool and then create customized applications and workflows for our SmartInk and SmartForms suite of products.

Using Xpaper in enterprise deployments was, however, problematic.  It required careful management and a thorough understanding of what was happening behind the scenes with libraries and temporary files.

Live PDF takes Anoto into the rapidly expanding cloud environment.  Users still require the print driver to manage the Anoto dot pattern.  The user interface for the documents is, however, completely new as shown below:


There is no document previewer – you simply get a list of documents.  You can, however, establish a distribution list and email documents, with handwriting.  You can also place a copy in a local or network folder. Synchronization occurs automatically as users make modifications or add comments to the documents.

Behind the scenes, the library has been removed and all the metadata and ink strokes are stored directly in the PDF.  This feature is a huge benefit as the document is completely self-contained.

Information is stored as open XML in the XMP area of the PDF file.  This approach allows developers to take Live PDF and extend the functionality based solely on the PDF file itself.

In summary, Live PDF appears to be a step backward for existing Xpaper users.  The new design, however, provides a framework for smart pen developers to create a wide variety of applications all integrated with the PDF standard.


About Lance Maidlow

A professional engineer and solution architect with direct experience in a wide range of industries including GIS, water, sewer, power, transportation and oil and gas. Currently focusing on the optimization of design software and field data collection for utilities, local governments and their supporting organizations.
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2 Responses to Anoto Live PDF – A Step Forward or A Step Backward from PenDocuments Pro

  1. Don Lord says:

    Well written. I love that the metadata and ink strokes are stored and fully contained directly in the PDF. This fundamental design strategy is BIG. What a great vehicle. It reminds me of the power of storing geometry in the Oracle database. Seems like the sky is the limit. Well done!

  2. C Wilson says:

    Yeah, and it’s dead now too. Real nice Anoto.

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