App Tour - Plumbago


Microsoft Garage is always cranking out apps that can highlight other services and technology that Microsoft has at its disposal.

The Garage is basically one big hackathon and an opportunity to postulate new concepts when it comes to apps from the Redmond company.

A recent example is the Fetch! website that uses machine learning and big data to identify dog breeds.

Today a new app gets added to the Garage's resume and it is called Plumbago.

The idea behind Plumbago, which is also the name of a flower and helps make sense of the logo, is to retire pen and paper and get everyone writing using digital tools like a tablet and stylus.

Wait - doesn't Microsoft already have OneNote for digital note taking and storage?

Yes they do but Plumbago seems to target the more casual note takers and doodlers with its advanced pen smoothing to make things easier to read and its simplified notebook management.

“We were thinking about how to make a great experience that really took advantage of the Surface and its pen, and could replace a physical notebook. There are tactile, perceptive and visual properties about a real notebook that are hard to displace. So our goal was to create a neat Windows app using technology that could potentially displace those physical and perceptive artifacts,” says Gavin Jancke, general manager of engineering in Microsoft Research also serving as the user interface software engineer for the app. “So here we are today with something that will hopefully resonate well with consumers,” who he encourages to help test the experience and give feedback to refine the technology.

After trying Plumbago out myself I have to tell you that the radial tool picker is spectacular - very reminiscent of the radial menu that used to be in OneNote but much more intuitive.

There is at least one shortfall though - no cloud sync of your notebooks between devices. Sharing of your content from Plumbago is possible to your local clipboard and programs like Word and OneNote however, not syncing notebooks is simply unacceptable in this day and age of cloud connectivity.

This is especially true if you want to get users moving away from physical paper and pen to a digital alternative - it should therefore be accessible across their entire device collection.

Download Plumbago from the Windows Store.

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