Digital Notebook


I am going to become a captain of a highschool vrc team this year. In order to maximize our time and efficiency, our team has decided to try out a digital notebook. However, we are unsure which program would be best for our digital notebook.

We’ve thought about google docs, but I’m not sure if there’s something better. Plus we would like to have automatic time stamps rather than something manual so that it seems more reliable in judges eyes.

Does anyone have any recommendations?

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our teams uses google slides, we changed the slide size to be vertical and made our own template 10/10 would definitely do it again.


Our team uses google docs. It’s a great way to organize stuff since you can have a lot of this on there. There are markers that can be automatically generated so we use that too.


I recommend google slides. It is easy to use and most people know how to use them.

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Thanks! I think my team will try out slides and have google docs be our back up.

Google the best, because you create your team, and work together.
Presentation, if you want to cut/paste, and build the paper doc format. It’s text processing is not ideal. It was designed for bullet presentations, not brain dumps.
Docs is a decent word processor with tagging for each person entering, and concurrent (online) updates. You can do screen capture (for CAD images) and camera (for capturing white board work, like projectile trajectory or brainstorming).

There was a forum, where VEX was considering where they want to go with digital notebooks. In the mean time, I have a template (to copy per team) for both VR5 and IQ. If I get an e-mail to [email protected], I’ll happily share ( .odt format, for import). With the “digital enablement” from the pandemic, I encourage digital and in DOC format…
PS, CAD is also quite viable (for free), but learning cycle is pretty steep. But you end up with a great life skill, and some free things, like Bill-of-Materials. I recommend OnShape, if you have decent internet, but there are lots of choices out there…

Vex has a premade template available at This Site, it was recently updated for the 2023-2024 season. It has a lot of useful premade slides you can work with, including multiple full field diagrams and button/port mapping to help with coding.

The teams I work with use the field diagrams to map out and plan both match strategies and skills routes for both driver and auton skills. They use the button and port mapping to help keep track of what mechanisms are connected to what ports, and what buttons are still open or which are in use. They also found during the last season that these helped to impress judges by showing their planning, strategies, and overall organization.

Many years ago, we used the phrase “what ever floats your boat”, meaning there is rarely a single solution to a problem… From what I’ve seen, the template gets printed, and annotated, and then compiled into a paper book.
In industry, paper is now seldom used. Using Doc format (instead of Presentation) enables printing the paper final copy till the last date. It puts the final document in typed format and can track who contributed what. It even enables input through dictation, which really can’t easily be done in Presentation (it likes bullet points).
So, I think the digital model is better, but then, that’s what floats my boat… Paul

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I do realize that I am a little late to this disccusion, but I wanted to give anyone who goes through this another option to try out. My team and I use Notion which is free to download and is madde for organizing information, although its more centered around business management, it is very customizable

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I’m glad the debate over format of Digital Notebooks continues. Personally, I don’t think the format of a PowerPoint (by any vendor) maps well with any real engineering I’ve seen. Most of my work in software, so most documents in Word. But VEX is aligned to Google, so (free) Google Docs brings a LOT to the table, even beyond Word.
So, I continue to promote the “ODT” format to import to Docs. Looks like VEX Engineering Notebook, acts like Word doc for easy text input, adds in image capture to enrich the content. Good luck with ANY tool that helps motivate teams to do the (necessary) rigorous "documentation task… Paul

Fair enough. Google does seem to be the choice of Vex, while not officially, they clearly have a preference. I did realize that google slides resembles a physical engineering notebook the most but without the tedious writing which is the bane of most teams.

So, My team is doing PowerPoint for our notebook. I would suggest that you use it. It has been a great success for our team.

Best of luck!

If you prefer typing to scripts and Zerox machines, Docs or Word quickly becomes the bais. I offer as something simple to try and adopt if you like it.
This zip had a “instruction” and “base doc” (one per team). Just post back if you tried and liked. Others may be influenced to digital from your response.
VRC-2023-24 Digital Over Under Notebook-Instructions (in DOC format) - Google (2.7 MB)

I’m still pitching EDEN. It’s software that is designed to be a digital notebook. Every other solution is just jamming a round peg in a square hole. You can make it fit, but it’s not what it’s designed to do.

For example, if the judges need to see your brainstorming pages, they can just click on brainstorming. The rubric is built into EDEN from the start.

If you are using a Google product, just keep your entries in chronological order. Please…

Saneydd, please post a link for EDEN. I haven’t heard of it, so do know cost, warrantee, platforms supported, data protection (between teams), audio/camera input, automated ToC and author attribution of contributions from the team…
So, this sounds negative, but are some of the qualities I (personally) evaluated Docs against alternative. It is obvious both are targeted for team members that are “well connected”, and not still working with paper and pencil.
in our area, Pandemic pushed us to complete coverage of technology all the way down to 1st grade, so the students now growing up with this. Notice there aren’t many penmanship tests left in the schools?? :smiling_face:

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My team uses Google Docs, last season we tried Google Slides but we didn’t really like how it worked (our entire team was more accustomed to the tools provided by Word, which is the equivalent of Google Docs).

Another positive point that our team sees compared to other tools is that content can be imported from Drive, our main storage source, to which the entire team has access.

In general, I think that any tool that is stored in the cloud and that does not require the installation of any application, that works in the browser, is a good option.

Guillem, I’m an old Word user, and happily moved to Docs… I always was working in “track changes”, so you could see the before and after. Then, I realized the Docs has “Editing” and “Suggesting”. IF you have a document manager, they are the only one Editing. Everyone else is “Suggesting”. This permits Work-like updating, and puts an attribution to who made the entry. Great to show Judges that ALL have had a hand in the Engineering Notebook.
Docs also does a better security job than Word. Each document maintains it’s own access list, so ONLY the Team members can get to the Notebook.
The version that I posted in a zip file above also had an automated Table of Contents, so information can be inserted in the middle, and right mouse click the ToC and it updates. The sample also has a dot-decimal section header; commonly used in industry.