Sidepad Quickstart

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Dept. of Computer Science
Portland State University

This page provides an overview of some of the features of the Sidepad application. Consult the user guide for a detailed description.

Sidepad lets you create labeled notes, and then link and group the notes in ways that help you organize your thoughts. You can use Sidepad as a drawing tool and as a research tool, and you can maintain notes and reference other documents. You can reference a text selection in a PDF, Microsoft PowerPoint, or Microsoft Word document, a range of cells in an MS Excel workbook, or a section of an audio or video clip.

Figure 1 shows a Sidepad document. The blue boxes are called items and the grey boxes are called groups. The arrows are called links. Sidepad items may reference sections of documents created with the tools listed above. These references are called marks. Below we describe how to create and use each of these constructions.

 Figure 1: A Sidepad document

Sidepad offers many operations for items, groups, and links, which we describe below. In these descriptions, we frequently refer to context menus. You open a document's context menu when you right-click in an empty space in a document. You open an object's context menu when you right-click on that object.

Selecting - You select an object when you left-click it once. To select additional objects, hold the CTRL key down as you click. You can also select objects by drawing a bounding box around those objects with the left mouse button.

Creating an Item - Open the document's context menu and select 'Markless Item' in the 'New' sub-menu. This action creates a new item with the default name 'New Item' and an empty comment. This item is mark-less because it does not reference any document or sub-document.

Item Properties - You change most of the properties of an item, group, or link by using the item’s property page. Some properties you might wish to change are the title and comment information for the item. Use the 'Properties' item in the item's context menu to open this.

Deleting an Item - Select the item you wish to delete and hit the Delete key on your keyboard.

Changing Display Order - Objects are displayed in “layers”. The most recently created object is placed in the top-most layer. You can move objects from front to back or back to front (one layer at a time) using the Order sub-menu of an object's context menu.

Undoing and Redoing Operations - You can undo or redo many Sidepad operations. To undo an operation, hit CTRL+Z. To redo an operation, hit CTRL+Y. For example, you can undo deleting an item.

Creating a Group - A group contains zero or more items. A group may contain another group. When you move a group, its contents move with it. Open the document's context menu and select 'Group' in the 'New' sub-menu. To group selected items, select them and click the 'Group' toolbar icon.

Deleting a Group - Deleting a group is similar to deleting items (hit the Delete key on your keyboard). However, deleting a group will delete all its contents. If you like to retain the group's contents, but just remove the group, use the 'Remove Group' operation found in the group's context menu.

Moving a Group's Contents - You can move the elements contained in a group freely, including moving them outside the group's boundary. A group's item placed outside the group's boundary is still a part of the group.

Working with Links - You can create links between items, between groups, or between a group and an item. Select one of these elements and move the cursor to the center of the item or group (over the square selection point at the center). The mouse pointer changes to a vertical arrow. Hold the left mouse button down and drag the mouse until the pointer is over the other group or item you wish to link with. Release the mouse button. A new link with the name 'New Link' is created.

Saving to Files and Opening from Files - To save a document to a file hit CTRL+S. When you save a document for the first time, you are offered a dialog to choose a file name and location. Future save operations on that document overwrite that file. To save a file as another file, use the 'Save As' item in the File menu. To open a document from a file, use the 'Open' item in the File menu.

Printing a Document - You can print a document or preview the print. Use the 'Print' item in the File menu to print a document, and the 'Print Preview' item to get a preview of the print.

Referencing Sub-documents - Sidepad items may reference portions of documents. These references are called marks. When you activate a mark, you will be taken to the area of the source document that was marked. To create a mark, you select text in an open document, e.g. an open Microsoft Word document. Menus are available in all markable applications, as shown in Figure 2.


 Figure 2: Marking a region in an HTML page using MS Internet Explorer

 Creating New Items with Marks - After you have selected text in a base application and marked it, switch to Sidepad, and select paste from the Clipboard (hit CTRL+V). This action creates a new item with the default name 'New Item'. The text you marked in the source document is automatically used as the descriptive text of the new item. Although you do not see any visual indication, the mark you created is also associated with the item.

Navigating to a Marked Document - Double-click on an item to navigate to the marked document associated with it. The source document will be opened in its native application, and the marked text will be highlighted.

Transformations - The Transform menu gives you access to some transformations For example, the transformation "Make HTML Table of Contents" transforms a Sidepad document to HTML. You may find this useful if you wish to create a web page using the research you captured with Sidepad.

Page modified: 14 Jun 2006 10:29 AM