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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iOS Apps > A good app to collaboratively annotate pdfs and write on virtual whiteboards

A good app to collaboratively annotate pdfs and write on virtual whiteboards
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OreoCookie
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May 19, 2016, 03:39 AM
 
I'm planning on ordering my first iPad at the beginning of next month (9.7" iPad Pro with all the trimmings), and I would like to use it collaboratively with a colleague of mine who is on another continent. Are there any good collaborative apps with which we can fill virtual whiteboards and annotate pdf files?
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subego
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May 19, 2016, 02:34 PM
 
Slack is the flavor of the month, but I can't speak of it personally.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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May 19, 2016, 03:07 PM
 
Slack: https://www.macnn.com/articles/15/08...useful.129992/

Not sure its what you want. Are you thinking some equivalent like SubEthaEdit, just for iOS?
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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May 19, 2016, 09:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by Mike Wuerthele View Post
I don't think Slack is what I need. I don't need document sharing, chatting, etc.
Originally Posted by Mike Wuerthele View Post
Not sure its what you want. Are you thinking some equivalent like SubEthaEdit, just for iOS?
In a sense, yes: we are on two different continents, and write papers and books together. So we often talk about changes we'd like to make to drafts (almost exclusively in the form of pdf files). Think of something like PDF Expert that allows two people to simultaneously scribble into the file (e. g. with different colors). And we'd like to do the same with a blank canvas, a virtual blackboard if you wish.
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Mike Wuerthele
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May 19, 2016, 09:50 PM
 
Probably Syncpadapp.

https://syncpadapp.com

Free for three users.
     
subego
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May 20, 2016, 12:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I don't think Slack is what I need. I don't need document sharing, chatting, etc.
Slack does PDF markup, and from what I understand, you can easily add a whiteboard.

I get the idea it's trying to be the ├╝ber collaboration app. It will have features you're not looking for, but the features you want are such a basic part of collaborative work, they're included or are easily implementable.

The people I know who use it love the crap out of it.
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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May 20, 2016, 04:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Slack does PDF markup, and from what I understand, you can easily add a whiteboard.
I see, so that'd fit the bill. I've only heard of Slack (people who love it are very vocal about it), but never used it. I'm not opposed to trying it, but I thought of something more lightweight first. But if it works, it works, I'll check it out once my iPad is here (~2 more weeks until I can place the order).
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OreoCookie  (op)
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May 20, 2016, 04:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by Mike Wuerthele View Post
Probably Syncpadapp.

https://syncpadapp.com

Free for three users.
Have you tried it? I also came across it before, but all the reviews I could find were old, really old.
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andi*pandi
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May 20, 2016, 11:41 AM
 
I found slack to be a mess, and not very functional on my mac.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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May 20, 2016, 12:43 PM
 
We use Slack in the newsroom, and the PDF markup is terrible. I have used Syncpadapp for a brief time, and it worked for what we needed it to do.
     
subego
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May 20, 2016, 02:20 PM
 
Don't use Slack... it's garbage!
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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May 20, 2016, 09:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by Mike Wuerthele View Post
We use Slack in the newsroom, and the PDF markup is terrible. I have used Syncpadapp for a brief time, and it worked for what we needed it to do.
That's good to know. What also turned me off Slack for this particular purpose is that it seems to be centered around the web, and the apps are supposed to be just wrappers. For messaging, I'm sure that doesn't necessarily matter, but when you want fluid touch and pen (!) input, every millisecond counts.

Seems like all I need to do is wait. If SyncPad works well, I'll be sure to let you know.
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ghporter
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May 22, 2016, 10:17 AM
 
Why do you share/collaborate using PDFs? Do you use incompatible editors/word processors?

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OreoCookie  (op)
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May 22, 2016, 09:33 PM
 
We use LaTeX to write our stuff. In case you don't know what it is, it is a markup language, and formulas are an important part of our work. So we need to use the pdfs generated from LaTeX to (1) check the correctness of formulas and other things which need to be rendered and (2) we need to verify the final layout. Right now, we print drafts, annotate them by hand, scan them to pdfs and then send them around. My collaborator also does that on his iPad electronically. In a second step we would talk about the corrections via Skype, and it is here where I would like to be able to interact.
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abbaZaba
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May 23, 2016, 09:55 AM
 
I think Slack is great. It's centered around integrations so you'd need to integrate with a third party whiteboard service like Limnu or Sketchboard.
     
subego
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May 23, 2016, 09:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
We use LaTeX to write our stuff. In case you don't know what it is, it is a markup language, and formulas are an important part of our work. So we need to use the pdfs generated from LaTeX to (1) check the correctness of formulas and other things which need to be rendered and (2) we need to verify the final layout. Right now, we print drafts, annotate them by hand, scan them to pdfs and then send them around. My collaborator also does that on his iPad electronically. In a second step we would talk about the corrections via Skype, and it is here where I would like to be able to interact.
Fun Phact: TeX is basically bug free, unlike every other piece of complex software ever.
     
ghporter
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May 24, 2016, 07:43 PM
 
Oreo, I see your need. You're not really sharing PDFs for collaboration as much as making sure your documents render correctly via PDF. Obviously simply sharing the PDFs via some cloud or other wouldn't let you annotate anything the way you'd need to.

I agree with subego about TeX; it's mature and stable. But PDF is still a moving target with new features - and occasional bugs in rendering - showing up. Plus, what PDF generator you use makes a big difference. I don't know if there's an "ideal and perfect" PDF distiller for TeX, but that might be helpful to you both.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
OreoCookie  (op)
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May 25, 2016, 01:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Oreo, I see your need. You're not really sharing PDFs for collaboration as much as making sure your documents render correctly via PDF.
No, it's more than that: we heavily edit and discuss the content of our work. The reason we almost exclusively talk about the pdfs is that formulas are very hard to read if all you have is the source code.
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I agree with subego about TeX; it's mature and stable. But PDF is still a moving target with new features - and occasional bugs in rendering - showing up. Plus, what PDF generator you use makes a big difference.
That's a settled question for us: essentially there is only pdflatex and xelatex, and we have to use pdflatex because that is what the most popular online repository supports. Generating pdfs is really not the problem.
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ghporter
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May 25, 2016, 05:31 PM
 
Even clearer. I took a glance at the markup for just some basic calculus stuff, and I see your point with razor clarity! You need to see the rendering to see what you wrote an that lets you also discuss your writing. Got it.

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