Notable: PDF annotation for Chromebooks By Dana Landry and Kayla Carroll: Interview with CEO

Here at Lynnfield High School, many students use a Chromebook for all their classes. This can be a challenge in some classes such as math. It is very difficult to type out equations and notes for math at a speed suitable for the classroom. Luckily there are now chrome extensions allowing one to write on PDFs. One of these extensions is called Noteable PDF editor. The school has been given a free premium account for the year so it is free in the chrome store. The extension has many good features such as the following:

notable icon

Drawing– The paintbrush in this extension is not ideal. There lag when drawing and when the writing finally loads, it looks jerky and uneven. It is easier to write if the zoom is on max but if the zoom is on default,  it is nearly impossible to write anything legible. A simple dot also cannot be made in the program so bullet points, periods, decimals and multiplication signs are difficult to make. However it works i=very well so long as one is zoomed in and writes relatively slowly. This is hardly an inconvenience and it makes learning in classes such as math much easier on a chromebook

The paintbrush in the extension is not ideal, but does the job it needs to. Although it lags when multiple people are working on a shared document, when only one person is working, the paint brush works sufficiently. It is difficult to write neatly, so the extension may not work the best for those with messy handwriting. However, there is a zoom feature which makes writing a bit more easy. This is hardly an inconvenience and makes learning in classes such as math and science much easier on a Chromebook.

Erase– Using a mouse pad erasing was extremely easy and caused no problem. I would suggest drawing with the touch screen and erasing with the mouse because the cursor must be directly on the drawing to open the erase option. It is must easier if the zoom was increased. The eraser erases line by line rather than little bits at a time. This can be good if  you want to erase one letter but it becomes very time consuming if one wishes to erase a larger drawing. There is also no undo button so if something is accidentally erased there is no way to get it back.

Text Box– This works incredibly well with few problems. Group work is easy because you can watch your partners editing their text boxes live. A teacher can also see which students typed each text box and one student cannot edit another’s text box. The button to change the text size is hard to find and is not connected to the box making is less streamline. Unfortunately, we believe this function does nothing more than replace a copy machine.

Underline/highlighter- These tools work well on google docs and on some PDFs but not on most. The underline function doesn’t even work on text created using the text box feature. Once a section of text is highlighted it is impossible to select any word in that section without selecting it all. This makes it difficult if one wanted to accentuate one word, or change any portion of the text. Luckily this feature will probably not be used as much as the drawing feature.

Note– The note feature was not the best feature notable has, in our opinion. The notes would not load for a long time. Sometimes the page must be refreshed in order to see the notes. In addition each time a note is made notable sends a notification out via the chat feature and email. This can become annoying if one wanted to use more than one note. Viewing the notes are only a problem if they are the same color as the background PDF, in which case it is nearly impossible to find again. There is also no eraser which can cause an issue when editing. The feature itself is very helpful for communication with teachers. Teachers will be able to comment on a project in a very easily accessible way.

Collaboration – Collaboration was a very useful feature. It allowed students to do group work. The only problems with this feature were the many notifications sent via email and chat section. This could become very annoying. Also if a large amount of writing was made by one partner using the drawing feature, the window would stop responding for a partner. The partner could easily open a new window and use that if this did occur. Notable also automatically initials all edits to the PDFs and does not allow one to edit another person’s wiring. This is very helpful to prevent plagiarism, and to keep all work correct.

Many other PDF annotation chrome extensions were evaluated and notable was one of the best ones we saw. It had fantastic features and ran the smoothest of the extensions were looked at. We even had the chance to interview the CEO and Co-Founder of Notable PDF, Hengie Wang. We can not thank him enough for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with us and discuss the extension.

Here is the interview that we conducted via google hangout on air.

By Kayla Carroll and Dana Landry

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