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Developer(s) Denis Auroux, Andreas Butti et al.
Initial release

January 2, 2006; 10 years ago (2006-01-02)

Stable release 0.4.8 / June 30, 2014; 2 years ago (2014-06-30)[2]
Written in C
Operating system Linux, Unix-like, Windows
Type Note-taking application
License GPL v2
Website xournal.sourceforge.net

Xournal is a notetaking application written for Linux and other GTK+ platforms. It bears some similarity to Windows Journal, Jarnal and Gournal. It is designed to be used with either a stylus or a mouse. It is also capable of adding annotations to PDF documents.[3]


  • A "Pen" with optional sensitivity to pressure data from the tablet driver, operating at five different preset thickness levels
  • "Eraser" which can either delete everything in its radius of operation (potentially breaking strokes up), act as a white pen ("whiteout") mode or delete the whole length of any continuous stroke in the affected area
  • "Highlighter", which acts as a semitransparent pen allowing the user to highlight areas of text or image
  • Text tool, allowing insertion of basic blocks of character-based text
  • Shape recognizer, which can be enabled alongside the pen to automatically detect circles, lines and polygons when they are drawn and replace them with a clean version

Additionally, strokes and blocks of text can be selected, moved and copied using a rectangular selection tool.

PDF annotation[edit]

Xournal supports annotation of PDF files. Xournal uses the Poppler library to render PDF documents. The documents then become immutable background images. Annotation can then proceed using any of Xournal's standard tools: Pen, eraser, text, and highlighter.

Annotated PDF documents can be saved in either of two ways. They can be saved in the native Xournal file format and then associated with the original PDF file. Alternatively, the document can be exported to PDF format. Once an annotated document has exported to PDF, the annotations can no longer be edited using the standard Xournal tools (though new annotations can be added).[4]

Comparison to and interoperability with other applications[edit]

Xournal was designed to be a better-performing program than Jarnal. However, unlike the Java-based alternative, Xournal has no collaboration facilities and is not binary portable to other platforms. Being a native program, it runs considerably faster and also has support for the high subpixel resolution provided by the XInput system of X11 and by most graphics tablet and tablet PC displays. It can also be used on platforms without Java support, such as the Maemo 4 (OS2008) platform running on the Nokia N800 and Nokia N810 Internet Tablets[5] and the Maemo 5 platform running on the Nokia N900 smartphone.[6]

Xournal saves in an XML-based format[7] (similar to SVG), which is then compressed with gzip. The Xournal todo list currently lists support for the Jarnal file format under its objectives[citation needed]. Being an existing open format based on compressed SVGs, this move would allow users to easily export their notes into external editors such as GIMP, Inkscape and Adobe Photoshop.

Unlike Windows Journal, Xournal lacks the capability to automatically perform OCR on handwritten text, thus precluding the existence of features such as searching a handwritten document for text.

Xournal development is active as of Feb 2016, with bugfixes and new features. New features are uploaded to a specific repository, where a development version of Xournal "next" is made available for testing; they are merged in the stable branch when they have reached a sufficient level of maturity.[8] Some Xournal forks have also been created. Xournal++ [9] for example, is a ground-up rewrite of Xournal in a different language (C++ instead of C). Hoodle is a rewrite of Xournal in Haskell.[10]


  1. ^ "Xournal user manual". Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  2. ^ "Xournal website". Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  3. ^ "Xournal – A Great Note-Taking Application For Linux". MakeUseOf. Retrieved 2014-11-19. 
  4. ^ "Xournal user manual". Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  5. ^ "Xournal for OS2008". 
  6. ^ "Xournal for Maemo 5". 
  7. ^ "Xournal file format". Retrieved 2011-06-03. 
  8. ^ "dmgerman". , see the README.org file.
  9. ^ "Xournal++". 
  10. ^ "hoodle". 

External links[edit]