Drawing with a pen

How do you use pen input exactly? Does it recognise your writing and inputs characters instead? If so, isn’t there a generic input method that will work in all applications?

Just curious whether it can be done or not. If you have an example, screenshot or video, please post here.


It does recognize the writing as well but I do not think that this is the main issue.
When writing actual text, everyone is faster with a keyboard. What makes it the killer feature is:

  • Add drawings, quick annotations, etc
  • I use it as a replacement for my “analog notepad” directly on my desk. So it’s not so much about structured data capture but just organizing one’s day-to-day notebook. And with OneNote I have it always with me
  • On the Go (e.g. while talking to other people) you often just don’t have time (or want) to fumble around with an on-screen keyboard. A couple of quick keystrokes (like reminders, names, numbers) can be entered quickly as with a conventional notepad. Clearly the built-in Android and iOS apps have this feature but are incompatible with Joplin.

Technically the data is organized in boxes and one box contains either text or pen drawings etc. (The format and spec is open https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd924743(v=office.12).aspx)

I am not sure what the best implementation would be (I don’t know enough internals) but I think something like embedded images but just with the pen input instead would be the way to go.

A cross-platform implementation of the input part would already exist, e.g. http://xournal.sourceforge.net/


and e.g. on iOS:

(I have to remove this because new users can only put one picture into a post)

Outline (outline.ws) is a another implementation that supports all the big pluses of OneNote but unfortunately not OpenSource and only on iOS.


Here is the second picture:

1 Like

Thanks for the information, that’s good to know how it works.

I think the solution for this (and quite a few other issues) is to make resources editable. With that, it should be possible to have an image to draw on, and the underlying resource will be updated and synced whenever something changes.

There’s an issue open about this, so I’ll link this thread to it for reference. https://github.com/laurent22/joplin/issues/582


So as far as I can tell Joplin is the only note app I enjoy using, I don’t know why, but none of the other apps, PC or mobile, “feel” right.
I just started using the stylus with the Galaxy Note, and find that if I need to markup a CAD drawing, I just do it with the native Samsung app, then import the image into Joplin as usual. Is there some way of editing the image and then have Joplin refresh it to have my edits from within the app update, or do I need to delete the old image and re attach the edited image?
Strictly speaking within Android app.


I use an xp-pen artist 12 pro https://www.xp-pen.com/product/479.html graphics display tablet write handwritten notes in OneNote. It is very good for digital drawing and notes, perfect line at any speed pen strokes and everything going simple .

1 Like

Yea I would also love to see this feature in Joplin… Being a graphic designer by passion I’m using One by Wacom pen tablet. Currently I use Windows InkSpace for rough sketching and note taking purpose, If we can able to integrate pen support it would be awesome to write in the middle of notes and would be nice handy app for meetings

1 Like

Here are some notable projects and products you might want to look at

also, are there any limitations language-wise for writing plugins? I don’t know javascript but I’m familiar with other languages that might be a good fit for this (python,C++,rust)


+1 for this request.

As a privacy-oriented user that is looking to migrate from OneNote to a open source solution such as Joplin, this is the last piece of puzzle that is missing from migrating fully to Joplin.

I use the Galaxy Note9 running LineageOS, and I would absolutely love to be able to use my s-pen with Joplin.


It would be an awesome feature and will boost up the use of application

1 Like

This is the only thing preventing me from switching to Linux on my notebook with digitizer (HP Envy x360)! I’m currently using OneNote on Windows but this seems like the best alternative if it would have this feature.


I would like this as well, mostly to be able to annotate pdfs and images. I now use xournal++ and export into pdf, which I then import into joplin. It works, but it’s clunky.


Hey hey, just here to +1 on this, i was an avid apple notes fan until i rid of all of my apple devices. The Reason i liked apple notes so much was simplicity and Joplin is a perfect match (plus some extra awesome features) for that simplicity bar the hand-written notes part, at the moment i’m drawing in photoshop/krita/onenote/whiteboard and pasting a screen grab into my Joplin notebook as an image but it would be awesome to be able to just do it all natively.


I thought about this earlier this year and I think the inkscape platform has open source code that could be migrated, but I'm sure it's a major project for someone and it's well outside my skillsets.

I too +1 this!

Just wanted to +1 this as well, it is the only reason why I'm still using OneNote on my iPad, would love to get rid of it.


Is there any way how we can support this development?


One place to start for this might be the Wacom WILL Standard. With WILL, Wacom is looking to standardize how hand-writing is stored and rendered cross platform.

Wacom Provides an SDK for Web, IOS, and Android. The rendering and such seems to be Node.js powered.

Wacom has a couple github example projects to demonstrate the use of the SDKs. I was able to download the sdk-for-ink-web Github repo and run it (in WSL) on my windows machine. Note: The SDK comes seperate because it has some extra licensing agreements, But I believe its free to use and such.

The WILL supports both Vector and Raster inking. After some light documentation reading, Vector seems like a much better option.

  • Vector stores strokes with pressure/tilt/speed/pen type/etc | Better for note taking
  • Raster stores ink with width/texture/opacity | Better for Artistry

The sdk-for-ink-web implements the SDK with a simple HTML page.


  • Implement inking with a specific note type stored as inking file type, They bring up a different editor/view than the standard markdown editor.
  • Implement inking in the Markdown. This would require some major changes to the markdown editor. Maybe the inking could be supported in a "Hybrid" editor (like what was in testing in the past versions of Joplin) the rich text editor.
  • Implement inking in the Markdown raw editor with a ?[resource-hash.ink](:/resource-hash) type link. Then have an inking editor "widget" that appears below it in the text editor OR make it so that shift+click opening a full screen/half screen editor for that inking file. Using a ? instead of ! could interfere with existing markdown schemes, So that would have to be looked into for compatibility.
  • Exporting of the Inking files would have to be handled. This could be complicated. If Pandoc is used in the backend, then it either has to be rendered as JPG before passing to Pandoc, or Pandoc has to support rendering it (Which would be awesome for markdown in general).

Most of the actual coding behind all of this goes right over my head. But I figured sharing my discovery of Wacom WILL might be helpful.


In fact, this is just a problem with the md renderer. As long as the renderer supports processing the special file you mentioned, it should be able to render it correctly, then edit it in an external editor and automatically synchronize it (currently I use this method to edit flowcharts and mind maps)

Wacom WILL is interesting, although it has an awful name for searches (finding "will Wacom do this" instead…)

On point isn't clear from a quick scan: does it work for other tablet brands? Like XP-Pen or Huion. If not, the interest is strongly low.

[EDIT] There is an online demo: http://developer-demos.wacom.com/CreativityDemo
It works, but with my XP-Pen tablet, it doesn't recognize pressure. As if I was manipulating a simple mouse, actually.
I suppose that for the purpose of this thread, it can do the job.

Im unsure about the hardware compatibility, But that is a very good point to consider.
For the documentation that I read, Wacom seemed to be pushing for very broad support, but I guess anybody looking to promote their product would say just that. It would be worth people trying it with the various hardware they have.

Personally, I have a Wacom-based Lenovo Yoga and Compatible pen. It works well for me. I didnt have pressure support either, But Im 90% certain my laptop doesnt have pressure support anyway.