I Might Pay for JotNot

There are very few times when I read something and think to myself, I must blog this immediately and tell as many people as possible.

This is one of those few times.

JotNot is a web service that converts pictures into documents. Send a picture to them by email or upload one to their website and get back a Word or pdf version. Not a big deal, there are other services that do this.

This service is good for transferring information on a whiteboard into something you can distribute, and believe it or not, this happens quite frequently and is a constant frustration for telecommuters who aren’t “in the room”.

It’s also good for scanning, if you don’t have a scanner.

JotNot's blue box, captured from iTunes app pageEnhanced image, captured from iTunes app page

Now, h/t TechCrunch, they have an iPhone app (iTunes link).

The app sounds very simple. Take a picture (or import one). Use the blue box presented by the app to indicate the area you want captured. Then wait as the app does its processing magic, correcting for lighting, color, and even perspective. Very cool.

Unfortunately, this app costs $3.99, and I have yet to pay for an iPhone app. I’m still not over the initial sticker shock, my prerogative as an OG iPhone guy who paid full boat back in July 2007. However, this app tempts me to get over my desire for full amortization.

If you read here, you know I prefer iPhone apps that perform units of work, and usually, I can see value in these apps, even if I don’t have a specific use case or pain point in mind. JotNot hits two, very real pain points for me, and I’m pretty sure one or both apply to you as well.

Pain Point 1
The JotNot web service doesn’t meet my needs for whiteboard pictures. Why? Because typically, there’s sensitive information on that whiteboard, and it shouldn’t reside on outside servers.

Yeah, it may not seem like a huge deal, but I like my job 🙂

The JotNot iPhone app does all its processing on the device. So, no worries about leaking the top secret designs for the next version of Connect.

I could have used this app the last time Paul, Rich, Anthony and I sat in a conference room in Pleasanton, brainstorming Connect’s direction. We ended up with about five picture’s worth of whiteboard content, which I then had to email for posterity. Corrections for my bad photography would have been nice.

There have also been several times when people have told me “I have it all on my whiteboard”, which didn’t really help me, since I’m not even in the same state as your whiteboard. It would have been nice to get a picture of that whiteboard.

Pain Point 2
We recently switched to scanning expense receipts. This is a bit problematic for home-based people unless there happens to be a scanner or an all-in-one in the house. In some rare cases, the all-in-one may be old enough not have any Mac or Linux drivers, making its scanning functions useless (and yes, I tried with a VM, no luck).

This makes scanning receipts a challenge. I could use the JotNot web service, since receipts aren’t confidential, or the iPhone app, my choice. The one drawback of the iPhone app is that (I assume) the processed image format is jpg, just like all the iPhone camera images are.

We need to submit receipts in pdf form. So, there would be an additional step required to transfer (or mail) it for conversion to pdf.

Even so, as a guy who used to travel five days a week and struggled to keep current with expenses, I see huge value in this app. Consultants and sales people who live on the road can’t always predict when they will be able to scan receipts.

JotNot would definitely help nomadic workers who live on the road and in hotels.

So, color me impressed. Find the comments to add your two cents. Add enough, and I’ll use it buy this app.




  1. Random thought on pain point 2: take a photo (instead of “scanning”) and print as a pdf file (I have PrimoPDF). Yep, Jotnot might work, but I'm not buying the iPhone anytime soon

  2. On Pain Point 2, you can make a PDF easily of any document in OS X, including JPEGs.
    1. Open the document (for JPEGs use Preview, GraphicConverter, iPhoto, or other app).
    2. File > Print.
    3. In the Print dialog choose PDF > Save as PDF.
    4. In the Save dialog, enter a file name and click Save.

  3. Good tip. I may start a tips group for this specific issue in Connect b/c the instructions provided were skewed toward people who a) work in an Oracle office that has a monolith all-in-one or b) have a scanner at home.

  4. Hi! This is Nick Sillik from JotNot. Thanks for the great post about JotNot. I'm glad that you like the idea of JotNot, and I certainly hope you do end up paying for it!

    On your Pain Point 2: We will be adding PDF creation to the iPhone app very soon. If you buy it now, you'll get that feature as an update as soon as we give it to Apple and Apple approves it. We hope to add that, and many more, feature in the future, and we'd love to hear more of your ideas on what would make this app more useful for you. We even put a survey on our blog at http://blog.jotnot.net/ where users can tell us what they'd like to see in future versions.

    Thanks Again,
    Nick Sillik

  5. OT: I'm shocked that an iPhiliac such as yourself hasn't bought a single app, Jake! I have too often fallen for the “now only 99 cents” campaigns. And don't even get me started on Trism (used to be a Tetris-addict ages ago).

  6. Hi Nick. Thanks for commenting. Even though I don't like to pay for apps, I blog about any that seem to be useful/interesting regardless of the cost, including I Am Rich, mainly because we have a guy named Rich on the team.

    Good to hear about pdf creation. I'm going to promote JotNot internally too as a way to handle the new receipt submission guidelines.

    And I might break down and buy it myself.

  7. I know, hard to believe. There are a couple that I'm wavering about, though. My usage of the many free ones I have tells me the utility I garner from an app is pretty low.

    But again, apps for units of work and not all units are of equal priority. Scanning receipts to get reimbursed is a high priority. So usage could be lower and still make it worth the cost.

    Developers should review Pinch Media's stats before pricing. I think a lot of first-timers get caught up in the cost of their labor, but the market is very fickle for paid apps.

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