Microsoft OneNote is one of my favorite applications. At work, Outlook and OneNote are the two programs you will most often find running on my machine. I take all of my handwritten, typewritten and copy/pasted notes in OneNote.
It means I don't have paper notebooks laying around. I don't have multiple files to keep track of my conversations. I don't have a lot of scratch paper. It's all in OneNote. OneNote might even be my most often used printer.
At home I write my book reviews in OneNote, manage quotes, draft long blog posts, collect miscellaneous stuff from the web, and just generally dump stuff in there that I don't have another place for.
Tonight I saw an article about Canvas in the Seattle PI. I'm looking forward to putting it through its paces.
From the Seattle PI:
Discard the notion that working with documents, at least in Microsoft's OneNote software, requires looking at them, for the most part, page by page.If you are not familiar with OneNote, think of it as a virtual three ring binder.
A prototype unveiled Friday lets users see thumbnails of all the pages they have created within the organizing and note-taking program on one screen.
I can put as many pages in it as I want, and I can divide those into as many sections as I want. I can use handwriting in it if I'm on my Tablet PC, or I can just type in it. Unlike Word, I can type anywhere on the page at any time.
It has an audio recorder so I can record meeting notes while I take them. When I play back that audio it highlights where I was in my notes at that point in the discussion. Or I can just click on a confusing part of my notes and it plays just that portion.
Plus, I never have to save my file. OneNote is always automatically saving in the background.
I could go on about OneNote, but I'll spare you that. I don't work for MSFT, but I often do end up doing OneNote training presentations in my job. If you want to play with it (a don't already have a copy that came with some flavors of office) you can download a free trial from MSFT.
Canvas is an add on for OneNote that takes the metaphor a step further. Sure, it's great to have a three ring binder, but sometimes you want to crack open those rings and spread those sheets of loose leaf out over the floor so you can see and navigate everything at once.
Canvas lets you do that.
According to Microsoft:
Canvas for OneNote allows you to navigate and edit notebooks in a new way by providing a high-level canvas-view of all your content. The prototype lets you zoom and pan around; view and organize content in new ways; add new pages right where you want them; and even locate pages in a timeline view.
It's a new innovation from Microsoft Office Labs. Office Labs is basically experimenting with new approaches to Office applications. From their website:
As you view and try our ideas and prototypes on the site, treat them like "Concept Cars." They aren't actual products or features of Microsoft Office and may not work perfectly under all conditions. However, they are steps toward improving everyday productivity and we’d like you to be part of the innovation moving forward by taking a test drive or two, telling us what you think, and helping us shape the technology of the future.
I'll be playing more with Canvas over the next couple of weeks on my personal machine. You can see some sample videos on the MSFT Canvas page.