Xournal++ 1.2.0 Released with Improved PDF Annotating Tools

A new version of Xournal++ is available to download — and those of you needing to annotate PDFs will find it a particularly appealing update.

Xournal++ is an open-source note taking tool for annotating PDFs, drawing digital sketches, and taking handwritten notes. It’s cross-platform, built in C++, and utilizes GTK3 for its GUI. If the name is familiar it’s cos it’s a rewritten, enhanced fork of Xournal.

I’ll be focusing on what’s new in Xournal++ in this post but its existing feature set covers the core basics already: pen types, shapes, arrows, line and line styles, colors, text input boxes, different page backgrounds; UI config, layout options; file import and export, etc.

Xournal++ 1.2.0: New Features

The latest release, Xournal++ 1.2.0, has been 2 years in the making. Accordingly, the change-log accompanying this update is substantial. I can’t namecheck everything altered in the update but I can highlight the most notable additions and enhancements.

A pair of new PDF text selection tools — “Select Linear PDF Text” and “Select PDF Text In Rectangle” — are included. These makes it possible to select text in the ‘background’ of a PDF (i.e. regular text in a PDF, not text that’s been added using tools in this app).

Xournal++ improves PDF text selection tools

Text can be selected using linear selection (i.e. in lines) or using area selection. Buttons provided with these tools make it easy copy select text to the clipboard; highlight it; apply a strikethrough; or apply a stroke underneath, i.e. underline.

Additionally, new set-square and compass tools allow you to measure elements within a document, as well as provide a guide for drawing, e.g., straight lines using set-square, and circles, arcs, and radials with the compass.

Xournal++ handwritten notes app screenshot
Set square and compass tools have been added

Xournal++ 1.2.0’s LaTeX editor has been reimplemented using gtksourceview library. This brings a bevvy of features to bear, including multiline input, syntax highlighting (configurable), undo/redo, word wrap, and a resizable code editor.

There’s also new export plugin. When this is enabled it allows the active document to be exported/saved as a PDF, SVG, or PNG using the shift + alt + p, shift + alt + s, and shift + alt + n keyboard shortcuts respectively.

Other changes:

  • Support for custom color palettes (using the .gpl format)
  • Color picker now uses currently selected color by default
  • Import/paste/save to any image format supported by GDK Pixbuf
  • Stroke tool improvements, including ‘double ended arrow’ style
  • Setting to adjust visibility of a stylus-activated eraser
  • Eraser tool rewritten – now faster and more reliable
  • “Export as PDF” toolbar item added
  • New plugins APIs

There are also a lot — and I mean a lot — of bug fixes, stability buffs, and code optimizations. Performance is said to be improved thanks to a refactored rendering system eliminating unnecessary redraws (plus, for those on macOS, an uplift in GTK version).

Xournal++ 1.2.0 is free, open source software. Downloads of the latest release for Windows, macOS, and Linux are available the project’s GitHub page.

Linux users can choose from Snap, Flatpak (via Flathub), Deb, AppImage, or binary/source releases.

Note: there is a bug in the Linux builds of 1.2.0 which means toolbars do not appear by default — which are pretty important! Go to View > Toolbars and select Xournal++ to make them appear. This issue will be fixed in the Xournal++ 1.2.1 release.