If you need a free alternative to commercial software such as Microsoft Windows Journal, One-Note, PDF Annotator and others...try Jarnal.
What is Jarnal: It is a free, open-source software that has many interesting features. There is no need to spend money on a similar commercial application. Just for that, Jarnal is awesome. It is suitable for people who need a software that has such features in it. I am talking about note taking, sketching, journal and presentations ability, document annotating (even for PDF files) collaborating using a stylus, mouse or keyboard.
Introduction: I would not be able to write a Jarnal Review that would cover all his features. I would probably end in writing a manual for this application. Consider this article a quick review and let me show you just a couple of features. The first step is to get the latest version.
Download Jarnal from his homepage (please note that it can run on any OS that supports Java). The program is open-source and cross-platform but you need to have Java installed.
In Windows, download the zip file that contains Jarnal somewhere on your computer. Before you do that, you may want to create a "New Folder" and rename it so you can remember later. Extract, the contents of the zip file named "jarnal-install.zip" inside that folder. I use WinRaR but you can use any other extractor that supports extraction of zip files such as 7Zip.
Although the author says that you can start the program using "jarnal" or "jarnal.cmd" files , you may want to use "jarnal.jar" in Windows. I use Windows 7 so it works great for me.
As I said, I opened "jarnal.jar" file and the program main window appeared. It looks clean and easy to use. In this example I resized the window a little bit (for a smaller screenshot).
Just a few examples and screenshots
Draw something and annotate
If you have a stylus (digitizer pen) instead of a mouse it would be great. From program interface you can choose between multiple pen's, use a ruler, eraser, insert stamp date, write a block of text and much more. Although it does have basic graphic abilities such as Paint, that's not the purpose of this application. I was just playing with the program so here's the result:
Open background and add changes
You can use the option named "Open Background". This allows you to open an image and change it in many ways. You can also open other files such as PDF where you could add more space, annotate etc.
When you're ready the program can export the modified file to PDF. I have added an image as a background, wrote something and used the "Export to PDF" feature.
Obviously, exported PDF files can be opened in any PDF file viewer. Here is the proof, I just opened the previously exported PDF in my PDF viewer - Sumatra PDF. It looks just like any other PDF document.
Format text options
It doesn't matter if you want to make a presentation or keep a journal. You can customize your text easily. Write something, select a word or a block of text and then perform a right-click with your mouse. Choose one or more options and that's it.
Conclusion: Use your imagination and this software can help you even more. There are many features that were not presented such as: annotation abilities, collaboration and networking. Yes, Jarnal allows multiple authors to work at the same file in real time. More help can be found in Jarnal Documentation or at the new Wiki Section.