Why hasn’t Xournal been ported to Android?

There’s this one Linux app that I love called Xournal. It is the best tool for taking notes on a PDF that I’ve found anywhere. With this app you can type note on the PDF, highlight the existing content, and cut &  paste. You can also draw on the PDF in 11 colors and 6 thicknesses.

I want someone to port Xournal to Android (if it hasn’t been already). This app on an Android tablet would be the Killer App, and I am not exaggerating. Tablets were invented for what this app can do. This app by itself will make carrying the tablet around worthwhile.

Do you want to know how great this app really is? Tell me if you’ve heard of the Entourage Edge and its great note taking ability. Guess what? Entourage are using Xournal on the Edge becuase it is simply the best there is.

P.S. If someone can point me at an Android app that already has these abilities, please do. I want to use it.

P.P.S There’s also a Windows version, and you can find it on the Xournal project page.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. JaseP8 December, 2010

    I agree 100%. I use Xournal on my convertible touchscreen netbook (a Gigabyte M912m). For writing on PDFs I send to clients or taking notes, there is no better app out there. There are similar versions called Jarnal and Gournal, if I remember correctly… Jarnal is written in Java, and some versions even have working character recognition. It wouldn’t be too hard for someone to port it to Android’s Davlik.

    1. Nate the great8 December, 2010

      Would you like to take up the project? I’d get behind a kickstarter campaign to provide some financing.

      1. RonaldD17 December, 2010

        I second this – count me in for the campaign!
        I’ve been looking for an Android note-taking app and have not been able to find anything even remotely close to Xournal. Porting Xournal to Android would be great!

  2. smick20 December, 2010

    I’m confused. If Xournal is on the Entourage edge, doesn’t it mean it’s already android ready. The edge website says it’s android based. So this port is already been partially done then.

  3. Nitin Reddy Katkam15 November, 2012

    Xournal is a GTK application, isn’t it? Porting a C/C++ GTK application would take quite a bit of effort to port to the Android because Android development is all-Java. It’s hard enough porting a Java-Swing based application to the Android… porting a C/C++ app is essentially a re-write.

  4. Mathieu Cloutier10 April, 2013

    IMO, the best app for handwriting in Android is LectureNotes. Infortunately, tablets in general lacks precision to be able to write in a natural way. Altought much effort as been made to enhance this capacity, I doubt it will be solve until better harware comes around. I wouldn’t want a proprietary pen that comes with the tablet, although a generic-tethered (via Bluetooth) like a Wacom stylus, with a very fine tip, may be the future, unless digitalizer technology is improved rending the use of a tethered pen obsolete. On PC, the most polished apps are Windows Journal , with altough is beautiful and works like a charm, almost prevent you of using it to export/annotate to PDF, which is basically stupid. Xournal can do that, but suffer from stability issues on its window port. Really, there is no need to port it to Android, since you could use LectureNotes, and via Dropbox/ Google Drive, use your notes on PC/tablet painlesssly. At this point, I’ d rather contribute to a Kickstarter campaign for Xournal (since tablet hardware is not up to speed yet) to make sure we cant (finally!) start producing something instead of just using them casually.

  5. Niffinegger16 October, 2013

    I found nothing equal to Xournal. what prevents me from buying a tablet, after a palm life-drive, N800 and N810 (all in use) is the lack of apps really useful. What good is a Ferrari if their wheels are square?

  6. Ed Sternin4 January, 2014

    Xournal on a Cintiq Companion Hybrid would be an excellent match to the hardware.

  7. Ragnar17 September, 2014

    Stylus Labs Writer might be worth a look. http://www.styluslabs.com/

    It runs on Android, Linux, Windows and Mac. Unfortunately it lacks PDF annotation, and support for typed text, but works nicely for taking handwritten notes.

  8. Edward Sternin23 April, 2018

    Well, 4 years on, the hardware is here. I mean, of course, the e-ink devices that are coming fast an furious, from Sony, Onyx, reMarkable, Gvido, etc. Many of them are Android-based, and certainly have the hardware (pen and touch) capabilities. Their custom writing/markup software is fine.

    LectureNotes on Android is, indeed, an excellent app.

    The problem is that none of these are os-agnostic, and the only program that is in the running on both Linux and Wind*$e is xournal, and none of the custom apps, or LectureNotes can write/read .xoj files.

    I would like to renew the call for xournal on Android. I will happily pay for an application like that.

    I would also pay for an add-on to LectureNotes that allows it to read/write .xoj files, as the combination of xournal on my desktop and LectureNotes on the tablet would then be able to interoperate transparently.

    Finally, if the LectureNotes proprietary format can be added to xournal with full read/write access, it would also be an acceptable solution. This would mean converting a lot of .xoj files I have accumulated over the years, so it would not be my preferred solution, but would do in a pinch.

  9. Edward Sternin27 October, 2018

    Good news!

    The new (2018.10) Chrome support Linux apps, and xournal is working on Chromebooks!

    Tested on HP Chromebook X2: Settings -> Linux (Beta) -> enable; then “sudo apt-get install xournal” and all is well.

    The file system integration is a bit undercooked at the moment, requiring a copy over between the two filesystems (native Chrome and Linux virtual machine file space) under Chrome Files, but apparently this is to improve under the next release of the Chrome OS.

    There are a couple of inadequacies: (1) the HP chromebook pen does not have any buttons, so erasing/other function without getting out the pen mode is not currently possible; (2) the size of the menu bar and icons is way too small on a high-res screen of this Chromebok (I do not yet know if this is a controlled setting under the Chrome Linux support), so one has to be careful with pen presses; and (3) the drop-down menus show up in the middle of the screen, not right under where the menu button is. But these aside, it’s a fully functional xournal under Chrome!

  10. Daniel14 February, 2019

    I’d pay for a xournal port to android. Then I’d buy the onyx boox max and just write there, it’d be fantastic.

  11. TheOneWithTheBraid30 August, 2020

    There now is a Xournal++ port to Android on https://github.com/xournalpp/xournalpp_mobile as stated in https://github.com/xournalpp/xournalpp#mobile–web-app

    Please update the blog entry.

    1. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2020


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