Template Overlay Tool

About one year ago, Livescribe ended their Developer Program. I released my Custom Paper Deployment Tool and requested Livescribe to reconsider their decision. A year later, with no change in status from Livescribe, I’m releasing a new tool to take PDF templates and combine them with PDF versions of Livescribe Dotpaper.

Please note that the Template Overlay Tool is not supported by Livescribe in any way, shape or form. As the Developer Program has ended, this tool is not associated with it at all. There is no warranty (either explicit or implicit) on the tool. I do not take any responsibility if anything adverse were to happen to your smartpen because of my tool. By going to the bottom of the page and clicking-through to the installer page, you agree to the terms and conditions listed above.  This tool is available freely to all users by following the download link at the bottom of the page (though a donation is highly appreciated to offset the hosting costs as well as the licensing costs for the PDF library that I’m using).

This is version of the Template Overlay Tool which allows you to select one of four different Livescribe notepads, supply a PDF template, and tell it the number of copies of that template that you would like created. Once you press the go button, it will prompt you for a filename and location for the resulting file which can then be printed and used with your Livescribe Smartpen. The generate archive tab allows users to take their template PDF and the exported PDF from Livescribe Desktop (after writing on it with the smartpen) and overlaying these together to create a new PDF with the original template and the handwritten content.

The first time you use Template Overlay Tool, you will need to Deploy the AFD files used by it. This requires my Custom Paper Deployment Tool to also be installed. Within Template Overlay Tool, click the “Tools” option and then click “Deploy AFD Files.” This will open a zip file with the 4 .afd files in it. You will need to extract those to a known folder (like the Desktop) and then open Custom Paper Deployment Tool and deploy them from there using the “File” –> “Open” dialog.

Template Overlay Tool ships with four new PDF notepads making it completely isolated from the 32 notepads I have already released with Custom Paper Deployment Tool. I used all of the last few dot paper license files that I had remaining for these notepads (and this is why they have different number of pages). Please remember to archive the notebook in Livescribe Desktop before using that same notepad again with a new template.

If you are ready to begin, you can go to the Template Overlay Tool Install Page.

Any questions or comments can be posted below and I will respond shortly. Please be aware that I have not digitally signed these install files so they will give a “Security Warning” because of an “Unknown Publisher.” There is however no security concern with the download and the install.

I have not been able to test with every different type of PDF imaginable (naturally) so it is quite likely that there will be PDF files that it won’t work with. If so, leave me a comment below, or contact me and I’ll try to assist.

UPDATE – 07/31/2012 @ 12:00 PM EDT: Version was pushed out last Saturday to correct a bug with the creation of the archival PDFs. Due to a malformed command sent to the PDF library, if a template with a non-transparent background was used (like most templates), the handwritten additions would not be visible. This has since been resolved and is no longer an issue. Thanks to Istvan for pointing out the problem!

About Template Overlay Tool

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90 thoughts on “Template Overlay Tool

  1. Istvan

    Dear Rohan,
    First of all many, many thanks for this. I am sure that this tool – when I have figured out exactly how it works – is the great tool that we need. But your description for a naive reader like myself is sometimes to compact and needs more explanation:

    1) It should explain the application cases that it solves. I see in the missing Livescribe program two areas where help is needed (and one will never get it from Livescribe… as we know them).
    i) To create customs forms templates (which means it is normally a 1 page long document, but repeats itself many times – e.g. on 25 pages the same customs form
    ii) To allow annotation of "n" page long pdf document. E.g. One hasa coursebook on pdf, goes to the lecture, records the lectures, makes the annotation of the original pdf document.
    My first question: Does your tool provide solution to i) or ii) or both, or also something else?
    Concrete small examples on the use would tremendously help.

    Now to the installation:
    I was able to install the Template Overlay Tool without difficulty.
    I was able to generate and install on the pen the Blank Notepad 1-4 template, as instructed.
    I was able to Generate Printout for a smaller PDF file (3 pages) on the combined dotpaper and test my pen. It worked, I have uploaded the result to the Livescribe desktop. Of course there you only saw what I have written and recorded with my pen, but not the PDF that I annotated.
    What I was not able to do so far that was the Generate Archive. I guess that one generates a PDF file were both the orhginal PDF is on and also the Livescribe pen annotations. Correct? The reason why the Generate Archive did not work, was because my PDF document was 3 page long, but the pen annotation only 1 page (I tested only the 1st page). It said that both paper must have the same page numbers. Which it did not.

    So this is my current phase of testing.

    Kind regards,

  2. Istvan

    first you do not have to publish these comments, as I reporting back directly to you on my experiences…
    I got a bit further.
    1) The application is more for developing new type of papers, rather than voice / writing annotation of a more page long PDF document.
    2) I was able to create any new form and print out on paper to be used for the pen.
    3) I was able to record and upload to the lifescibe desktop
    4) However, I was not able with your tool to combine the new form template with the voice / writing annotation that both the annotation works (I can play back the voice), and plus the new form is also visible. It is either or. Either I see the form and the written text (but can not play the audio), or I can not see the new form, but can see the writing and play the audio.

    P.S. I was also able to create PDF files from your new .ADF Files with the help of your tool. So that issue is now solved for me.

    Kind regards,

  3. Istvan

    I am wondering if Blank Notepad 1-4 pages could also not be released by you as PDF files? It would have additional advantage for some "classical" usages if you want to have really blank paper. In your current no lined paper you still have some additional info on the top, like "Name", "Date", "Information". There are cases where you do not want even that.

  4. Mark

    Hi Rohan, thanks for working on this… would it be possible to make a short how-to page or youtube vid to demonstrate what you can do with the deloyment and overlay tools. I'm a noob, and struggle to see when and how to use which tool, or if these two tools can even be used for what I have in mind.

  5. Istvan

    Hi Rohan,
    again not for publishing this.
    As said I had some problems with the tool. For example I could not produce this pdf output which is an important final result.
    I did this with the pdftk.exe program found on <a href="http://www.pdftk.com” target=”_blank”>www.pdftk.com.
    With that program you can quite well combine background files with pdf files, or stamp pfd files with background files. This is what you need here. Unfortunately it has a terrible command line interface. Here is my test result that I was not able to produce with your tool: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7o3l3qvutbnue1y/Blank_N
    If you observe closely there is another problem for which I have no explanation, the livescribe pen did not record some half-letters and some lines. I have not done any scaling when printing out the dot-paper with the grid.

  6. Istvan

    After further testing the writing quality became better. I have changed the color of the grid from black to cyan, and switched on in the printer the "toner saving" mode. It is still not 100%, but significantly better. Actually the paper is now rather close what I wanted to have.
    Kind regards,

  7. Donna

    Hi Rohan,
    Just wondering how this is different (except for the blank pages which I would love to have) from using the watermarking method to merge your pdf file and with the Livescribe export to pdf you can merge the pdf file with your Livescribe notes. So trying to figure out what this would do that the watermarking doesn't – maybe save a few steps? Just curious.

  8. Mark

    Well I got the pen a year ago or so, and sadly I did not look into the SDK, paper creation, etc. How would one go about designing/impleneting custom styles and such? I'm interested in the techonology. Glad to see someone taking initiative, Livescribe sure screwed up when they decided to remove support for the SDK as well as disabling the forum.

  9. Dustin

    Rohan, you magnificent man! I've been following your work since I learned about the Livescribe pens last year, and am so COMPLETELY thrilled that you were finally able to release a tool like this. I've wanted a smartpen for so long, but haven't been able to justify it because of the inability to create custom paper. However, I think I will now buy one, thanks to you. As a student with pretty severe ADHD, you've just made my life so much simpler. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

    As a side note, I'm primarily a Linux user at home, so I was wondering if you have plans to port your apps to Linux? This would just be the best thing ever. If not, I'd be more than happy to assist with that. I work as a .net developer and have a good amount of experience with the framework. In any case, you've made me extremely happy today. Thanks again, and I'll be sure to make a nice donation when I'm able!

  10. Istvan

    Well, I will try it….
    As a possible fall back would it also help a bit, if Livescribe just released .adf files for some good quality empty papers.
    Say, e.g.
    32 page papers
    64 page papers
    128 page papers
    256 page papers
    Say 4 of each of them…. and binary numbers are always symphatic…
    Of course it could be something else.
    In that case at least everybody for his own (so for "private use" and not for "worldwide exchange") could create with your tools whatever form he wants.
    In such a case there would be no license server…. as a fall back.

    Kind regards,

  11. Istvan


    I made some tests with the latest version of the tool and have found no errors. Thank you very much.

    As said this tool solves for me two open issues. Of course not perfectly, that is without a minimal help of Livescribe is not possible, but with some planning one can live with it.

    1) Generating new templates / forms. I think this is nicely solved. Of course what has the limitation that one has to use in an economic way the 4 templates. If you run out of them, you have to archive and start reusing them. The Blank Notepad Template is – as you have received it from Livescribe – too dark. I can not imagine what Livescribe did with it… Anyway, if you select the "toner saving" mode on your printer (many printer have that mode) then I think the results are good. In merging the original overlay template with the Livescribe output, be sure that the Livescribe output is the main document that is stamped by the template (otherwise you will not hear anything).

    2) The other application – voice and writing annotation of an existing PDF document works also well. Here you have to economize also with the 4 tablets. You have the maximum limitation of 150 pages (for Blank Notepad 1), which is most of the time enough. One has to be careful at the generation, the length of the to be annotated PDF document has to match exactly the length of the Blank Notepad (either 150 page, or 50, or 25) – otherwise the program gives an error.
    Here the trick with the "toner saver" mode does not work well, because then the source PDF gets also printed in a fainted manner.
    After voice notation, when you combine the source PDF file and the Livescribe output file, again the length has to be right. This is ok if you "used" all the pages (just a short opening of each page e.g. with a small "x" somewhere is enough) to ensure that the length of both to be merged PDFs are the same.

    Thanks again,

  12. Raffael

    Thank you so much for your great work! Would it be possible to also offer A4 versions of the notebook? I'm living in Europe and the Letter format is not so common 😉
    Kind regards,

  13. andrea bravo

    Thanks for much for this great software however I having an issue with the final output overlay. The notes from the dot paper are great but when it overlays the first page original pdf template repeats for all my 12 pages even though it says that both documents have 12 pages. Please help!

  14. Fausto

    Thank's a lot for this app.
    I'm writting you from Canary Islands and here there is not support for the pen. Also I called then and they don't sell to Canary Islands … it's unbelievable.
    I would like to install the app and use it with my office's printer but we have a firewall wich doesn't allow me to do it.
    Is there any way to download the installation packages of Template Overlay Tool and Custom Paper Deployment Tool as an EXE file or ZIP file to be able to install them at work? It would be a very interesting solution for me.
    Hope some news and, one more time, congratulations for your really big effort.

  15. Giorgio

    Hi Rohan,

    If I install the Custom Deployment Tool on Windows 8 (RTM) it crashes after a few seconds.. Do you know the problem? Thanks for all your work!

  16. Steve

    Hi Rohan,
    First let me thank you for your great tools.
    However, when I try to select any existing PDF and overlay it with dots in your template overlay tool I get the Error – "StartIndex cannot be less than zero. Parameter name: startIndex."
    I am using Windows 7 64 bit. Any ideas?

  17. Ebsith

    Hi Rohan,

    I have tried printing out some of the notebooks available in your Custom Deployment Tool, but when I try using them with my pen, the LCD reads: “please update your software to use this dot paper” I have the most recent firmware – does the most recent firmware not play well with the notebooks from the development tool era?


  18. Bryan Johnstone

    Hi Rohan,
    I am looking at purchasing a livescribe pen for my wife to assist with her business. She uses alot of individual templates, if I understand correctly, you can merge the individual template PDF files with the livescribe via your deployment tool, print it out and use as a livescribe notepad

  19. Angie

    Hi Rohan,

    Thanks for this tool! Unfortunately, I'm encountering a problem with generating an archive using your tool. I selected my original "template pdf", which in my case is a 32 page ppt. presentation. I then selected my archived livescribe notebook of the notes that I took during that presentation (I used the "generate printout" tool to create a livescribe notebook with the printout of the presentation on the pages). I inputted this pdf as the "Select Output (LD) pdf". However, the end results are my notes on top of the presentation, but the background image of all 32 pages is the first slide of the ppt! I'm just wondering what happened and if I'm doing something incorrectly. Thanks for your help!

  20. Howard

    Hi Rohan,
    I am a new echo user and am trying to use your Template Overlay and Custom Paper Deployment Tools. I selected a notebook, opened the PDF to embed and was able to save an embedded PDF but they won't print. The video on the Custom Deployment Page was very helpful and I did follow all of those instructions first. What am I doing wrong?

  21. MSHAH

    Hi Rohan,

    I have these university notes in PDF form given by the lecturer. I've tried your template overlay tool over the notes and the pen works fine with it after i send the afd to it. But when i connect the pen to livescribe desktop it doesn't show the actual pdf notes, it only shows my writing. Am I doing something wrong or is this not the purpose of your software? I know how to change an afd file but it seems a bit tedious to make a new afd file for every single page. Converting pdf to png and eps then compressing to an afd then sending it to the pen. Is there an easier way?

  22. Maciek

    It is possible to deploy only dots? Did it would be possible to start recording from “original” page and continue work with only dot’s paper? This way custom paper could be printed from black and white printer.

  23. Curtis


    Your solutions have helped justify my Livescribe purchase and helped mitigate costs because of my avid use of the product. Many thanks to you and your efforts! I will definitely make a donation toward the project. I would like to ask if there are any plans or available options for flip pads similar to the type that was originally made for the pulse smartpens. As a field tech, this would be an very valuable tool. Its not always convenient or reasonable to carry a "journal" notebook on a work site. Again, many thanks to you and your colleagues!

  24. Bart J

    Would love to give this a try and I have downloaded all the software. But I am not sure how to get started. Do you have any step by step instructions on how to use the overlay tool

  25. Dante411

    Everytime I plug in my Sky and try to launch Custom Paper Deployment tool the program crashes. I have tried launching then connecting the pen and connecting pen to pc and then launching. both result in a crash. Any ideas? Im on a windows 7 machine.


  26. Istvan

    Hi Rohan,
    Many thanks for this information.
    I am not sure that for my uses of the pen I would need a Sky pen at all. Nevertheless, knowing how weak the paper support of Livescribe is, I am definitely not getting a Sky pen until this issue is solved. I guess this will take very long, because if you have to wait first for something that Livescribe does, we know what it means in practice….

  27. Rohan Kapoor

    Hi Arnon,

    Yes that would be one of the exact cases that this tool would be useful for! As for a single page, it will only use the number of pages it needs to use – so as long as you archive the notebook in Livescribe Desktop before printing a different form, you will be fine.

  28. Giorgio

    Hi Rohan, does the template overlay tool use the new PDF rendering you have done in Custom Paper Deployment Tool?

    Grazie mille from Italy for your work!

  29. sameer

    i'm having some trouble with this application.

    when i try to embed an existing PDF file, it gives me an error with the message "startindex cannot be less than zero. parameter name: startIndex."

  30. Karsten

    Rohan, absolutely amazing stuff. It works brilliantly. One question, though: The pdf file generated by the Template Overlay Tool. Do you know if there isa way to run that file, using an iPad?


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