Graphical notepad for use with a pen tablet
Java JavaScript Makefile Shell PHP
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.




When doing a derivation in math or just organizing my thoughts, I usually just use pen and paper since it seems to be the fastest way to persist my thoughts. Typing on a computer is great for great amounts of text, but making diagrams is not that easy I think.

Since most of the paper that I write is not read after a day or so, I tried to come up with a better way. Text on the computer can be easily deleted if you do not need it any more, but you cannot erase pen from paper too easily.

My idea is that your computer can easily serve as an almost infinite notebook. If you save pictures with the resolution of your screen, you can store millions of pages. And they do not weigh anything. Ideally, you do not need to bring paper to do your math homework, following a lecture or sketch something.

Since you cannot seriously draw with a mouse, you need to have something like a pen tablet or a touch screen to make this work well.

You might say that using a graphics tablet is nothing new. Sure, there is plenty of drawing software out there. But I just did not find one where you cannot click on anything that makes your page disappear and can create a reasonable number of images (i.e. pages) with little effort.


After jscribble worked pretty well, I discovered Xournal, which offers a lot more features than this program. On a small screen however, the problem is that Xournal is paper and not screen page oriented. Also, you cannot hide the toolbar which might become a problem if somebody clicks onto it accidentally.

It runs on GNU/Linux very well. There is a Windows Installer, but I have not tried that.

So my software goes full screen on small screens and into a window on large screens. You can set the standard resolution in a configuration file. You can only control it with your keyboard. That way, you can draw freely with your pen without worrying about accidentally clicking something.


If you have filled the whole screen, just press the arrow keys (or space bar or enter) to advance in your virtual sheet. If you are at the end of it, at new page is instantly created. That way, you will never run out of (virtual) paper.

You can organize your notesheets in notebooks that can individually hold as many pages as you like. On startup you can choose the notebook that you want to work in:


The notebooks are saved in a hidden directory such that one does not have to worry about the files on disk. You can still get to the individual images, though, as described in the manual.

If you just need paper for scribbling, you can just enter the scribble mode. You can go back and forth in this, but when you close it, it disposes all the sheets.

Project Pages at:


You will probably want the regular .jar which will run if you have Java installed on your computer. Just launch the jscribble-X.jar with a double click or with java -jar jscribble-X.jar in the command line.


If you use Debian or Arch Linux, you can use the package.


This program is featured in Debian Sid and Wheezy as well as Arch Linux so far.

Building from source

Just the program

You can obtain a tarball with the latest source code from the jscribble website.

The following software is needed to compile this program:

Build system.
Java Development Kit
Java compiler, version 1.6 works.
xgettext, msgfmt
Parses source code for translation calls and converts translation file into the Java property format.
Used for various file creations, lists all the config entries in the manual page for instance.
Converts reStructuredText into html and manual page.
various Linux tools
find, rm, touch, bash

To build the main program, simply invoke make:

$ make

Then you can just launch the program with a java -jar jscribble.jar. In case you use Linux and want to install it for all users, run this:

# make install

Now it can be launched with a simple jscribble.

Developer documentation

In case you want to build all the developer documentation, you might want to install these as well:

A HTML documentation generator for Java. This should be included with the Java Development Kit (JDK).

To build the documentation, call:

$ build dev-doc

Unit tests

jscribble has a couple test cases which can be run with junit.

Unit test runner for Java.

To run the tests, call:

$ make test


If you like, you can send patches from the latest source checkout. Please include which version you based on, so that I can merge. If you care for the git repository, please let me know.