Summer OneNote 2007 news round-up

It’s getting hard to keep blogging about OneNote in detail now that I am no longer on the team, but I thought I would do a little round-up of some interesting developments in the last couple of months.

Onenote usage is really taking off as I talked about last post. The numbers are good of course, but I also love the anecdotes. Recently I have had the opportunity to talk in front of several large audiences internal to Microsoft and asked them if they used it significantly. Holy Smokes! More than 3/4 of the room each time. You might think that’s nothing special because they’re Microsoft people, but they’re too busy to use products that aren’t valuable to them just like everyone else. A great rush each time. It’s the shape of things to come.

David Tse released his Web Exporter PowerToy. This tool allows OneNote to publish an HTML+JScript view of a notebook to a web server (including SharePoint). There are several nice things about this tool:

  • it allows casual browsers to read the notebook contents – they don’t have to have OneNote

  • it automatically republishes the notebook on a schedule so it stays up to date as you (and others) update the editable OneNote version

  • it helps out a lot of OneNote fans who were concerned about being the first few people in their organization who use OneNote

  • it is released via the Microsoft Shared source program on Codeplex so you can see how it was made and use the code yourself.

  • David made it in his spare time at work – it’s cool to work at Microsoft!

There are several new MS bloggers about OneNote:

  • David Tse (Program Manager on the OneNote team, mentioned above)

  • John Guin (Tester on the OneNote team)

  • Michael Oldenberg (User Assistance and documentation specialist – big OneNote fan)

Dan Escapa (another PM on the OneNote team – you really should subscribe to his feed) continues to fire out a prodigious amount of material about OneNote including these gems:

Jeff Raikes, President of the Microsoft Business Division, huge OneNote user, and also my new manager got profiled here on how he uses OneNote. You might think this is some gimmick but it’s not. I’m impressed with his usage since *on his own* he has adopted just about every scenario we envisaged for the product such as taking notes (in ink!), keeping track of tasks connected with Outlook, connecting meetings in his calendar with OneNote notes, annotating files like PowerPoint slides, even sharing notebooks with his assistant. Unfortunately they couldn’t show his actual data for privacy reasons in the demo because his real usage is way more detailed and impressive than the demo. The demo captures the essence though which is the point. He’s probably the best most complete, effective user of the product I know. All that and he happens to run the division. I can’t say he got there because of OneNote but he is showing me a thing or two about how to be organized and on top of things!

A couple of Microsoft colleagues went to a local grade school awhile back to see how they are revitalizing the classroom with computers. This school has put a lot of thought into their program. They use OneNote for every student with a shared notebook for each class. The teacher puts assignments in the notebook and the kids work on them individually or in groups, with OneNote syncing the data and a keeping it organized. They use OneNote’s features for capturing web pages, keeping documents together, and drawing. What they told me was really impressive – even more than the ideas we had for OneNote in education. It made me jealous for no longer being on the team!

A big shout-out to the guys at Rob Bushway, Warner Crocker and others are big OneNote fans and keep everyone up to date on the latest news about hardware, OneNote and anything mobile – especially Tablet PCs.

I follow the comments that are posted here and any mail sent to me through the blog. I love hearing from you all – it’s my daily pick-up! If you have support questions however, I highly recommend posting to the user group since the experts there can usually help better and faster than I can.

Cheers, and have a great rest of summer!


Comments (15)

  1. Rob Bushway says:

    Thanks, Chris!

    OneNote 2007 continues to be a wonderful – it is good to see it continue to solidify in the marketplace.

    Your API support in 2007 was one of the best things you could have done to grow it, btw.


  2. Thanks for the shout out Chris. It is easy to be a big fan, Chris. OneNote 2007 is a killer app. Now let’s get some marketing push behind it and tell the world!

  3. Thanks for other msdn url blog!:) Very nice:)

  4. chadbr says:

    Would it be possible to build a format painter via the API? Or possibly a "paste as plain text" button?

    I LOVE OneNote, but I am continually aggravated by trying to copy content into a document and having ON bring the formatting from the other document into my notes…

    Glad to see ON taking off – the more the better.

  5. Chadbr: For the paste scenario, are you aware of the little button that pops up after you paste? Click it to choose to paste as text or to match the format of the text you are pasting into. You can set those as default for paste using that same pop-up.

    Format painter powertoy via the extensibility UI *might* be possible. I would ask Dan Escapa.

  6. Tom Birkland says:

    Just an atta-boy for Endnote in both forms, but especially the 2007 version. 2003 was good, but I am just now scratching the surface on 2007, which came with the new tablet I got last month. It’s really changing my web habits–instead of bookmarking pages, I use the Print to Endnote feature and save them there, where I can find stuff with the full text search and still have the relevant link. And thanks for making it work and play better with Firefox! Copying over the link is a really important feature. I will be playing with it more in coming months, but I agree–this is a major success for MSFT and should be more aggressively marketed, perhaps in the academic market, where I am. Thanks!

  7. I’m running Onenote 2003 on my 3.2 gHz dual-processor machine, and I noticed yesterday that it is consuming one entire processor when it’s just sitting there. I noticed this when using Process Explorer, where I was trying to examine something else and noticed that OneNote was eating up half my machine’s brain. Since I first saw this yesterday, I’ve been peeking in at it — and it’s the same every time. 50% (which is one entire processor) when I’m not using. I shudder to think whgat happens when I’m actually using it!

    Any ideas what might make this thing go wild? How can I find out what’s going on? I don’t have any plugins installed….

  8. Mike says:

    Hi, we arew having a problem with the Vista users not being able to open onenote 2007 notebooks shared in a sharepoint 2007 doc. lib. Works for most, just not some Vista users? I’ve queried and found this answer but the workaround isn’t working? Any other workaround, or any other way to add the onenote mime type to ie? shouldn’t MS be on this one.



    Notebook opens as read-only from a Windows SharePoint Services document library in OneNote 2003

    View products that this article applies to.

    Article ID : 830872

    Last Review : June 5, 2007

    Revision : 5.0


    When you click a hyperlink to open a Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 notebook or a Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 notebook that is located in a Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services document library, Microsoft OneNote opens the file as a read-only copy of the notebook.

    Back to the top


    This problem occurs because Microsoft Internet Explorer does not have a defined MIME type for Microsoft OneNote files that have the following file name extensions:• .one

    • .onetoc

    • .onetoc2

    • .onetmp

    • .onepkg  

    Therefore, Internet Explorer downloads a copy of the file to the Temporary Internet Files folder for Microsoft OneNote to open.

    Back to the top


    To work around this problem, you must create a hyperlink to the document library where the file resides and then open the file. To open the file, follow these steps: 1. Click the hyperlink to open the document library.

    2. Click the arrow next to the notebook’s name.

    3. Click Edit in Microsoft Office OneNote.

    This procedure opens the notebook in OneNote in a shared mode. Any changes that are made to the file are saved back to the file in the document library.

    Back to the top

    Still Open’s in Read only?


    OneNote rules.


  9. Ryan Ackley says:

    Sounds cool but why don’t you publish the specs for the OneNote file format so this can be done without going through the OneNote client? It would be great if this could be part of a server workflow on sharepoint.

  10. Valery says:


    I have just tried a trial version of OneNote 2007.  Keyboard navigation keys do not work. When i try to position a cursor to a certain position in page titles it also doesn’t seem to work well. I cant see cursor at all.

    Is it because of trial version? Where could one find limitations of trial version to get an idea what goes wrong?



  11. Tom, thanks for the attaboy – I take it that you mean "OneNote" when you say EndNote 🙂

    Dennis: of course it is hard to know what this is, but the likely cause is indexing. if you have a lot of notes or scanned documents, the indexer will be indexing in the background in a way that shouldn’t be interfering with your usage of the computer. That is, when your machine is idle, the CPU would be at 100% but as you used it the OneNote process would then give back that time.  Indexing a lot of notes (if you recently upgraded for example), only occurs when you have OneNote running, so if you tend to open OneNote then close it, try leaving it running overnight.

    Some other causes are OCR of inserted images/screen clips. That would also only be noticeable if you did a bulk import or upgrade so that many of these had to be done. Another cause would be if you have enable audio indexing of recordings. That is very CPU intensive, taking often a factor of 2 or 3 longer than the recording itself at full CPU to build the index

    For all the above causes, the solution is to just leave OneNote running, preferably overnight. If it doesn’t clear in a couple of days, then there is something else going on.

    Mike: definitely this is a question for the support newsgroup:

    Ryan Ackley:  We’ve certainly considered that. There are two main issues. One is simply that the format is incredibly complex and optimized for OneNote data structures. If you saw it you would not see what you might think. You might assume it looks something like HTML or Word XML where the text is all in order and you can imagine the layout based on markup or something. In fact because of OneNote’s architecture and the need to support incremental edit/save, the content would appear as random ordered fragments of text edits/difs that need to be processed and strung together using the OneNote layout engine to make sense of them. It would be incredibly difficult to accurately convert a binary OneNote file to a web age without using OneNote.

    The other issue is that the binary file format is evolving as OneNote evolves, and once it is "documented" and people start doing what you say, we lose a lot of flexibility in what we can do as we’d have to handle files created or modified (perhaps in error) by others, and people would expect continuity in the format internals version to version. Right now, since only OneNote has to deal with the intricacies of what is going on in its cache and binary format having developers work on those files through the OneNote API insulates them and us from changes in the format.

    That said, there is a lot of desire on the team to offer an XML format for exactly the reasons you describe, and because of the success of the OpenXML formats that Word, Excel, PowerPoint and so on have done. So that might come in the future. Because we still need to support features like incremental save that are hard to do performantly in XML, we’d still use the binary formats but produce the XML formats a few seconds later in a "lazy" clean-up operation and you could work off of those. Probably too much information…

    Valery: The trial version is exactly like the real version, except that when the trial is up it goes into reduced functionality mode (basically no edits). Nothing should change in keyboard navigation. Perhaps ask your question in the newsgroup:

  12. Gemma says:

    I have recently discovered OneNote and I do not know how I ever lived without it.  I orgamise everything with lists, notes etc and previously used spreadsheets to do this but I am now fully converted to OneNote!  Needs more marketing however!

  13. K10 says:

    Hi. Great product. The ability to annotate is what gets me really excited. It’d be awesome if I could annotate using my palm PDA as a tablet .


    Cool tool.

  14. christian says:

    I have a serious problem.  I am onenote NOOB but have ran into a problem that is truly annoying.  The option of insert files as printouts, inserts excell; powerpoints, and pdf’s.  However, with the PDF sometimes it brings them in as the correct orientations and other times it brings them in as improper oreintation meaning landscape when they should be portrait and or vice versa.  

    Please help

  15. It’s getting hard to keep blogging about OneNote in detail now that I am no longer on the team, but I thought I would do a little round-up of some interesting developments in the last couple of months. Onenote usage is really taking off as I talked abou