The Leading Edge (Browser!) in Digital Ink

Time for a shorter type of post I’m calling the Brief.

I’ve said it before that Microsoft is the leader in integrating digital ink into their operating system. The other night I found another example of that commitment. Windows 10 users have access to a very convenient way to use digital ink on their PCs – The new Edge browser.

Normally I take all my notes in OneNote, one of the best digital ink experiences around. It seems Microsoft took that knowledge and expanded it to the new freeform digital ink markup tool in Edge, and you know what? It is a very convenient way to take notes, and makes a perfect introduction to digital ink for those that haven’t experienced it! It’s called Edge Web Notes. Let me show you how to get started!

From any website within the Edge browser you can tap the Web Notes icon to start annotating the page. It’s not just a screenshot tool either. This lets you scroll through the entire page that was loaded on your screen. Think of it as freezing that page in time and letting you write in the margins like an old book or newspaper clipping!

The small pen on paper icon in the upper right hand corner opens up Edge browser’s Make a Web Note feature.

From here you can write notes, highlight, insert type written flags and even clip portions of the web page like a traditional web clipper.

The color and pen options are similar to OneNote Universal app which is to say not too bad! So how does it look marked up a bit? Glad you asked!

Shameless plug!

Ok so how does it work? This is where the Save and Share functions come into play. When you click the Save icon in the upper right you get one of three options currently.

 

 

  1. Save to OneNote Universal App as a new page
  2. Save into your Edge browser Favorites list
  3. Save to the Reading List Universal app

Each has some interesting uses. The save to OneNote is an obvious choice, this is where I keep most of my notes from research done on the web. Using Edge Web Notes does streamline the process. My only wish here is integration with OneNote 2013 or 2016 desktop editions. I’ve found the next two options more interesting though. Saving it to Favorites does several things, first if you have a Microsoft account you can sync the Favorites and Reading Lists across your devices. Mark up on your tablet at home, and read it on your desktop at work the next day! It also allows you to share the notes with others. Instead of emailing a page to your friends and family and having to type in what to look for, just circle it and send it off! Edge Web Notes are shared as a picture file via email.

You can also save the web pages as a PDF. Using an application like Drawboard PDF you can open the entire page and make further annotations, great if you need to capture what is on a page but need the entire scrollable website preserved as it is. When you save it as a Favorite and in the Reading List it also saves the entire page as it was when you began your Web Note.

Here you can see the entire page is preserved.

Once you have saved it you can come back to it at a later time. For those interested, it saves the Web Note in your Local > Users > UserName > AppData area of Windows. With some digging you can find it, and it does give you a file explorer URL when you bring it up as a Favorite. When you have saved a Web Note as a Favorite it becomes locked to further edits right now, so make them count before saving! If you open your Web Note from your Favorites list you will get the option to return to the original web page (if it is still in the same URL).

This isn’t quite the same picture. Note that the tool bar is missing, and now you can choose to Hide Notes or Go to the original page.

I did some testing for my lawyer friends out there. You can use this to save legal research with Lexis Advance or WestLaw Next. What I found was if I saved a Web Note from behind a pay/login wall it would go back to that page. I also logged out, and had to sign back in and it still remembered my research page, at least in Lexis Advance.

A brief digital ink demo with green highlighter in Lexis Advance. Clicking go to original page will take me back here, even if I logged off the service, you might have to re-enter your credentials.

So this is all fun, but what is it useful for?

  • Legal Research
  • Save news / reading interests for later
  • Share with colleagues in an easy and intuitive manner
  • Write notes on a webpage as a planning / brainstorming session or just as quick scratch paper without launching a more complicated app like OneNote
  • Preserve single web pages as they appear.

This last one is of particular interest to me. There are ways to preserve entire web sites, but sometimes in our profession we need to preserve something right now and the Edge Web Notes can do that at the click of a button. It’s limited to the single page you are on, but nothing stops you from making a Web Note of all needed pages on a site. Preserving communications on social media is something lawyers will be having to do more and more as we continue to use these platforms to communicate with one another.

Imagine how useful this Edge Web Note tool could be if Microsoft chooses to make Edge a platform and OS agnostic browser. You could be saving digital ink annotated web pages from your smartphone and save them for later reading, send them to a colleague for collaboration or store critical evidence of social media communications on your next case.

What uses can you envision for Edge Web Notes?

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