June, 2006

  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    New note flag features for OneNote 2007


    Last release we had a feature called note flags, this feature was very popular and was something that most users used and loved (once they discovered them). They are just little tags you can put on a page to mark something as important, just as if you would star an note from class or mark something as important on real paper. On real people many people would do different things, some people would put stars next to their important notes, other people would highlight, etc. The team converted this into a digital way of doing things, by putting little icons on the page on the left hand margin (or the right hand margin for right to left languages).


    The default set that we shipped with include 5 items: todo, star, question and a couple highlighted items. We saw that people mainly used note flags in one of two ways (with some overlap of the population (I love how Venn diagrams can explain so much)):

    • People who used OneNote to keep track of tasks and todo items. For lots of people they used note flags just to keep track of what is going on and what they needed to do. They would choose the default note flag (which was a todo button) and mark up their pages. Typically these people would roll up (search) their note flags and then create todo pages from there ("Create summary page").
    • Another group of people didn't want to just use OneNote for task management, they wanted to keep track of 'things'. They would use the note flags as descriptors. I always thought about it as the "important exam question", "interesting idea", etc...there are many types of visual clues we leave on paper notes to help us know what is interesting vs what we need to do. You would underline something or put it in a box, etc...those are the notes that you would flag/tag as such. Hang in there I will get to it.


    I fell into the world of #1, I used lists on paper, then Notepad and then OneNote (and now increasingly Outlook). Also many of our customers wanted more with Outlook and tasks sync. The team has done some great work with this release and working better with Outlook, heck even I am using it now. Okay so that is the history behind note flags. Let's talk about what we did this time around!


    #0 We added Outlook task sync

    This is the first and foremost more important feature for this, you can now mark items as an Outlook task and you will have an item appear in Outlook that links back to OneNote. Mark complete in one app and it will be complete in the other. This feature will totally nail things for people who use note flags for the first scenario.


    #1 We added more default note flags:

    The first set of note flags were too limited and there were many more possibilities out there! Just look at that list there are many different types from the todo like items (Todo, Discuss with <Person A>, etc) and also other describers you would put on a note (website to visit, phone number, person, etc). I feel that this list better shows what you might want to do with note flags, we want to plant a seed in your mind so that you can customize your note flags for your own needs!


    #2 We added more customization support!

    First of all we increased the limit from 25 to 100, not everyone needed this but now we allow you to have 4 times as many note flags as before.

    Another requests from users was the ability to remove a note flag, which we did as well (see the buttons on the bottom of the task pane).


    #3 More icon types

    In this release we have updated not only the existing note flags but we also added new icon types, see the new note flag gallery:

    The new icons give you more flexibility of what you can add. No we don't support your own note flag icons yet (the ability to upload an image file and make it a note flag), however that is something worth looking into for the next release.


    #4 Better sharing of note flags with others

    Of course we want more people to be sharing notes in shared notebooks (I know it has made my work life more productive), but we also want to help people share note flags more easily especially in shared environments. In OneNote 2007 whenever you see a note flag that you don't have you can right-click on the note flag and add it to your note flags:

    We feel that this will really help teams work together and share note flags.


    Note flags are great feature that I feel when people start using them it will really make their OneNote note taking more effective. Also make sure you use the keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+1, 2, 3, etc). Finally I would like to thank the team for their hard work on this especially Maria and Myung who helped make this a possibility.


  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    External OneNote Powertoy Contest winners


    The contest was split into two parts: internal and external contestants.

    In this post I would like to announce the external winners:

    1. IIONA by Dmitri Alekseyenko
      This tool allows you to copy from any application directly into OneNote.
    2. Word2OneNote by Brad Covelle
      This powertoy will install a button in Word 2003 that allows you to send information directly into OneNote.
    3. Daily Journal by Andy Gray
      Andy already went ahead and posted this online you can find it here: OneNote Daily Journal PowerToy.
    4. OneSnap by Andrew Wheeler
      This powertoy would add a toolbar button in Internet Explorer that allowed you to send information to OneNote. Andrew posted about this here: OneSnap preview.
    5. DropShadow by David Huang
      Finally this app allows you to create some cool thumbnail views of images and send them over to OneNote.

    All of the contestant winners received Visual Studio 2005 and a Tablet PC, and they should have gotten these LONG ago.

    If you are on this list and have updates that you would like me to post please email me or post a comment!

  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    Internal OneNote Powertoy Contest winners


    In my last post I announced the external OneNote Powertoy Contest winners and in this post I would like to announce the internal winners that we had as well:

    1. Send RSS to OneNote by Omar Shahine
      This app will allow you to select RSS feeds and send them directly to OneNote. Omar already posted this for download here. He was great enough to get this working with OneNote 2007 and I hope to post something this week with this.
    2. OneNote Wiki by Maria Blees
      Allows you to create a Wiki more easily with OneNote.
    3. Send to OneNote by Piyush Shah
      This Powertoy adds a Send to OneNote into the right-click Send To menu in Windows Explorer.
    4. Drop me a note by Jinsong Yu
      This is a pretty cool powertoy that sits on your computer and allows you to drag anything to it and then it will send that info off to OneNote.
    5. OneNote Powertoy for Small Business Accounting
      A more businesslike powertoy that allows you to have a Send to OneNote feature from Small Business Accounting.

    Again same with the external winners, All of the winners received Visual Studio 2005 and a Tablet PC, and they should have gotten these LONG ago.

    I will be emailing the winners to get an update on their code.

  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    Outlook and OneNote Tasks sync


    It appears that Olya has a great post up on Melissa MacBeth's Tasks and Time Management in Outlook blog. It is entitled: OneNote and Outlook Task Syncing - OneNote notes as context for your tasks.


    Check it out and also if you have some time please read Melissa's blog she has some great posts on new features in Outlook 2007.

  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    Value of notes and how I use OneNote


    I was just sitting in a TechEd session for an overview of the Office 2007 client apps (well yesterday afternoon). I was super excited to see the presenter mention OneNote. He actually introduced OneNote by asking people if they used the app or not and surprisingly about 40% of the hands went up, people were using OneNote! I couldn't believe it, I always hear about people using OneNote, but it was great to see so many hands come up and also just walking through the asiles I would see what people were doing on their laptops and about 50% of the time I saw OneNote people typing and people writing with Tablets. It was great!


    That got me thinking about something that I have talk with my coworker, Olya, about. It was all about notes and what people value out of them. When you go up to someone and you ask them about their notes they will typically think about those little sticky notes that they leave around, or small lists of things to do. When you tell people that you can use a piece of software to do this people will not always see the value of that. They think that their current system works well. And for some people it does, think about it you write something on some paper you might find it later, or tie a string around your finger as a reminder. But how many times do you end up re-writing those thoughts? How many random things do you lose in a day because you don't capture it better?


    I can tell you that before I started using OneNote I would have lists and lists on random pieces of paper. Then when doing my laundry I would find these lists in my pants pockets. I would end up collecting them and then rewriting a new list of the items I hadn't completed. Let me tell you, I wish I had a better system in university. I did value those notes and I am sure that I should have used something like Outlook/OneNote to keep track of our tasks.


    So again when you talk with people about notes they might think that they are very important. However if you ask them about these todo lists and other items that they write down and then ask people how often they lose that information then you start to click with people. I know personally that was the biggest value of these notes: keeping track of the stuff in my life and also the random thoughts that I had. For example after a quick conservation when Olya and I talked about notes I made a quick note, in OneNote, to blog about it. Now for some people they should use Outlook because that is better suited for them. I typically use Outlook for a lot of these things, but in general I prefer to use OneNote.


    I believe now we are getting somewhere, people do find value for notes and for the 'things' in their life. OneNote is a great place to store those things and to find it later on. But you can actually make more of a point with people if you start asking them more about research projects. Now this might sound like something very big and complex but it really isn't. We do this all of the time: buying a house, going on vacation and travel planning, getting a new digital camera, etc. (Funny how they are almost always financial/consumer decisions...maybe some people do it when they are researching on Match.com or Craigslist, but I digress). When you are collecting information you are stuck printing out webpages and bookmarking websites. Then later you have to find them later on. It isn't as easy as having one place with all of your notes. When you start talking to people about this it really becomes more valuable. We all have this type of information we are trying to keep track of and OneNote is a perfect place for this.


    I think we need to be careful when we say OneNote is just for notes, it really is about storing all of the information in your life.


    So...now I would like to talk about how I use OneNote. I love side notes/unfiled notes to keep track of my random ideas. So whenever something comes up, either a thought or an action item or someone coming into my office to ask me about something I create a new side note (Win-N). I just hit Win-N and then I have a new window where I jot down ideas. I write down what was discussed or something I need to do. Typically if there are action items I will flag/tag the note (Ctrl-1, or Ctrl-2). This will give me a visual indicator of what was important on the page.


    Creating side notes in and of itself is a great thing, it is just like those lists that I used to create on paper. The real value becomes that I look through my lists later on. At certain times in the day I will look through my side notes and see what it is that I have to do. Typically I will cross things out (Ctrl+-) or I will delete the whole page if I don't need the note (Ctrl-Shift-A). Usually I will do this at the end of the day when thing die down and I have more time. I will go through my side notes and create a todo lists. Once I have these todo lists then I will have my work items for the rest of the night or the next morning.


    I also keep other items in OneNote: account numbers for my banks and my login IDs as well as reference numbers and order numbers. Now I also have other notebooks and sections that I keep in OneNote, I just use my side notes as my main entry point into OneNote and then I file them away from unfiled notes into other sections. I am sure at some point I will write about the other ways that I use OneNote.


    Now if I were to say to you: do you find your notes valuable how would you reply? Would you want to use some piece of software like OneNote? (and if you reading this it means that you probably already are using OneNote, so what grabbed you in the past?)

  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    Contextual spelling in the Office 2007


    I just read this: Contextual spelling in the 2007 Microsoft Office system

    I have been wondering what this was in Word 2007 and Outlook, and it has saved me a couple of times. I just wondered what the blue line was instead of the red or green line. Pretty much it will underline when you have contextual misspellings like “He bought a pear of shoes”…and since I am using Word 2007 to blog this I actually see the blue underline this is SOOO cool.

    Check it out yourself! If you find bugs please post them here and I will post them to the team

  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    Another OneNote Blogger & ToDo lists with OneNote


    I am happy to see that another of my coworkers is blogging: David Rasmussen has a blog. He has been on the team since the SP1 release and has been a great mentor to me.


    He recently wrote something about how he uses OneNote to keep track of his tasks: Managing Your Tasks With OneNote. I really like how he creates internet shortcuts and then tell windows to have a keyboard shortcut for it, you easily have a quicklaunch into OneNote, read about it here:

    Keyboard shortcuts for fast access to favorite OneNote pages.


    Welcome to the blogsphere David!

  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    OneNote 2007 Beta2 XML Schema Reference


    I have been working with the MSDN folks to get the OneNote XML schema reference posted online. You can find them here: 2007 Office System: XML Schema Reference (Beta 2) (same link, but just better for search engines/crawlers: OneNote 2007 Beta2 XML Schema Reference).

    Some notes about the OneNote reference:

    • It is just a little different from what you saw in Beta2, though they are compatible.
    • It is likely to change so make sure whatever apps you write are refreshed in the future.
    • What do you think Do you have suggestions or comments?    

    Please let me know what questions you have about this. Take care!

  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    TechEd 2006 & OneNote 2007 API


    I was out of town last week at TechEd 2006 where I spoke on behalf of OneNote and talked about the API. I would like to thank those who attended my session and for those who are just here on the side I wanted to post some of the slides and demos & code samples that I had during my presentation.


    First of all here are my slides: OneNote TechEd OFC342 - Introduction to OneNote API (PPT).


    Second of all you can see all of my sample files and project here: OneNote 2007 API Sample Code & Demos from TechEd. You just need to make sure that you have OneNote installed and these will work, but please look through the code and play with it.


    If you have questions please use the contact button to get in touch with me!

  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    OneNote Powertoy Contest Update


    Last year the OneNote marketing team started a contest to  see how developers and enthusiasts used the OneNote SimpleImport API and the OneNote command line switches to create powertoys that worked with OneNote 2003.


    The contest generated some great buzz and people were excited to see who would win and what powertoys they created.  I was working with the marketing team to test these out and help judge a winner.  Around December of 2005 we had selected the winners and we were working with them to get a final prografully developed, tested and posted on the OneNote 2003 Powertoys site on Office Online.


    Then things got messy:

    1. There were changes on the marketing team and I said that I would take over this contest.
    2. The team got really busy with OneNote 2007.
    3. We found that the DataImporter that Donovan Lange wrote didn't work with OneNote 2007!  That meant that all powertoys written for OneNote 2003 would not be compatible if they used the DataImporter.  Seeing that virtually all of the contestants were using the DataImporter I thought it was important we get the problems solved.
    4. Donovan was able to fix the DataImporter and posted an update on his blog at the end of March.
    5. I contacted some of the contest winners to get them to use the new importer.
    6. I only got a few responses.
    7. Here we are now.

    In hindsight there are a few things I would do differently with this contest.  I have realized that some of the powertoys will have to be rewritten for OneNote 2007 and it was a pie in the sky goal to have all of the powertoys working with OneNote 2003 & OneNote 2007.


    From here on out I would like to get in touch with the winners and publically announce the winners so that everyone can see what came of this contest.  They can contact me and we can get their most recent code posted on our website and I can link people to the powertoys.  We never forgot about this contest and we still are reaching out to the community.


    Thank you for your patience and understanding.

  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    OneNote 2007 Beta2 Survey


    Thank you for testing OneNote 2007, now we would like to hear from you!

    Please take the OneNote 2007 Beta2 Survey (if you have been beta testing ON2007).

    We value your feedback, no this isn't just a canned response, we really would love to hear directly from you all.  Thank you!


  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    A few cool blog posts for OneNote 2007!







  • Engineering OneNote Blog

    Congrats Chris!


    Chris just blogged about his second son, Skye, being born. I wish them well, too bad I missed them when they came into the office the other day when I was out in Boston. I hear the baby was adorable.

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