The Cornerplay: It's time to reinvent the digital pen

By Jeffrey Yuwono ยท 10 replies
Dec 4, 2014
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  1. [parsehtml]<p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" /></a></p> <p>One of the best things about the&nbsp;Surface Pro 3 is its pen. <a href="">It&#39;s changed the way I take notes, brainstorm and review PDFs</a>.&nbsp;As useful as the pen&nbsp;is, however, I can&#39;t help but&nbsp;think&nbsp;its implementation in Windows is a half-measure.</p> <p>Currently, the&nbsp;pen&#39;s behavior is different depending on where you use it. In the operating system parts of&nbsp;Windows and in programs like Word, the pen is a mouse replacement. Then in certain apps like OneNote, it acts like a pen that you can draw with. You can mark up on PDF files, but not with JPG or DOC files.</p> <p>This specificity&nbsp;is fine for knowledgeable users, but for casual users it&#39;s confusing to remember what the pen can be used for or where. If there&#39;s no clear sense how a tool will be used, chances are it won&#39;t be.</p> <p><a href="">Read the complete article.</a></p>[/parsehtml]
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2015
  2. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,285   +901

    The thing is not only Windows (Microsoft) needs to adapt their software but EVERYONE who has software productivity tools for Windows.

    My most obious tip, is using windows snipping tool, there you take a screenshot and can be used to highlight, make notes, or whatever really, it's mouse use can be easily adapted to a pen.

    To reinvent the usage of the pen, software makers worldwide will have to change, unless you use specialized tools or software to do what you want to do.
    Uncle Al likes this.
  3. Olisa Maduka

    Olisa Maduka TS Rookie

    Not necessarily, if Microsoft does it right then software devs won't have to do much work except use the 'new windows API'; for example, microsoft could make their root UI element object (or just a select few elements like image views, text boxes, editors etc) a 'Canvas' implementing the complete set of the pen API features (drawing, hand writing recognition, etc) .

    This way, as long the app is targeting this API, they would have pen functionality automatically added to a bunch of UI controls most users would expect to interact with using a pen as described in this article.

    This how it is for mouse and keyboard use, devs don't have to specifically worry about adding keyboard input functionality when adding a textbox for example, the API takes care of that.
    Jeffrey Yuwono and Julio Franco like this.
  4. Olisa Maduka

    Olisa Maduka TS Rookie

    It would be so cool if I could in future fill out forms in apps or browsers by scribbling with my pen on a tablet/phone saving me the hassle of using an onscreen keyboard. Of course the hand-writing recognition has to be top notch for this to be really effective.
    Jeffrey Yuwono and Uncle Al like this.
  5. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,325   +1,972

    In the old days Microsoft insisted on being the one to set the standards for devices and actually, they did a pretty good job. They ended so much incompatibility between system devices and software, but as we have seen in the out years, they have become more than a little lax particularly with their standard reply that it's a user problem, an undocumented feature and other excuses. Had they been on top of this, those standards could have easily been established early in the OS and continued from version to version, obviously making it a lot easier and attractive for 2nd and 3rd party developers to adopt. I particularly like the idea of making on line forms editable with the pen, on line, mainly because so many states put out their forms as adobe pdf files, but won't go to the effort to make them editable. Having an automatic application in conjunction with adobe would be a major improvement!

    ..... plus it would give me another great excuse to buy another gadget for my computer! LOL
  6. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,473   +126

    My Frankenstein (OEM won't fix it so I had rebuild the tablet to make it function again) Windows 8.1 Tablet. It uses a Stylus Soft Touch Pen (no batteries needed). Too much hype into using a pen, really use it when you need too. Voice command is the key but after the days when voice was implement still beta.

    Why are we still using keyboard and mouse. Touch devices still have issues. Smart AI Tablet with Transparent panel/case is still years away to be purchased. Talking to your tablet to process your needs is the way to go but until that day comes it's the pen and touch method for now along with the keyboard and mouse.
  7. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,285   +901

    As long as you want "DO I have mail" or that sort of command, we are still far far away to replace the loved keyboard and mouse. Even typing on screen with predictive swype-style keyboards is slower.
  8. Ironically, the suggestions in the article is like how the original Styluses worked in Windows XP Tablet Edition with Office XP.

    Sadly, this was one of the features that Sinofsky ripped out of Office XP and also got Balmer's permission to slowly rip out of the OS as well. (One of the examples of writing directly in Office was one of the main features Gates touted with Office, and you would even use your own handwriting like text in the word processor as the content was recognized by Word.)

    The Windows Pen API set is super rich, as it is layered in the touch and keyboard input model that can detect a lot of information from the pen in addition to where on the screen it is touching. Just as Windows could also read 'implied' pressure based on how much of your finger was hitting the screen. The ZuneHD framework supported this, the WP7 framework did not because of limitations in Silverlight.

    So, I agree with the author that the Pen needs to be fixed and work more consistently. Or more accurately the non-Sinofsky team needs to fix all the crap he ruined about Office and Windows.

    Oh, the quote that where Jobs said that if you have to use a Pen you have failed. That needs better context. I'm sure even Steve Jobs realized that the people at Pixar using digital pens to DRAW and SKETCH didn't think using the pen meant that Photoshop or Painter had a failed interface, as they replicated the real world interfaces better than most software ever could have.
  9. Could not agree more... Being one of the people, admittedly not so many, who ditched the laptop for a Convertible Tablet as soon as the devices were launched I missed some of the original features. I also disagree with the article when the author says that the pen should not replace a mouse and the user should use touch: why should I drop the pen and use my finger?

    The fact that a pen works as such and as a mouse offer the best experience and it is not confusing at all; if I am in the start screen.... I am not writing, I am interacting with the Tablet and opening or scrolling; as soon as, again using the pen as a mouse or as a finger, I open Outlook, Word or OneNote I can use the pen for my writing.
  10. I wish there was some sort of feedback to simulate writing on paper or a rough surface. I've tried writing on my Surface Pro 3 and while it works (hand-to-text recognition is terrible), it's not 'comfortable' to write naturally. The lack of 'roughness', like on paper, and the feedback you get from paper, makes writing feel weird. It may just need to be something I get used to.
  11. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,473   +126

    Depends how the OSD responds to your touch on the display keyboard. Trued a wired or wireless keyboard and mouse works wonders. Tech needs to play catch-up. Or build hardware OSD keyboard instead of using software OSD keyboard.

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