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Old Apr 6, 2003, 12:24 AM   #1
nagromme
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Lightbulb Curious about tablets? Explore Ink WITHOUT a Wacom pen

Mac OS X Ink (not, apparently, called "Inkwell") has been areound for a while--IF you have a Wacom USB tablet/driver.

Now, with rumors flying of what may or may not be a 7.5x5" Mac OS X tablet... I was curious about what Ink was like and what features it has.

FYI... I found an easy way (below) to activate Ink, Ink Help and Ink Prefs without actually having a tablet. (Use at your own risk--but it's easy and doesn't seem to change anything permanently.) You CANNOT actually write and test the recognition, but you CAN explore the controls if you are curious, using just your mouse. I'd say it could be further streamlined and enhanced, but Ink is already more full-featured than I knew. Current features already in OS X include:

* Switching between point-and-click, text-writing, and doodle-drawing modes (insertable into ANY app) via a floating "InkBar" palette, collapsible to one small icon. It can also switch modes automatically, into and out of writing mode. (And you can optionally switch modes using your choice of the pen's side buttons.)

* Option to write on a resizable lined "InkPad"--but NOT required. You can write anywhere but the Dock and menus.

* Keyboard shortcuts with modifier keys, all from the pen alone--so it really DOES replace the keyboard. You can lock and combine modifiers, too--and the modifiers even affect point-and-click mode, for things like option-clicking. (And you can put modifer keys on the Wacom pen's side buttons too. Hold the side-button and draw a Q, and you get command-Q. Hope any Apple Tablet has a side-button!)

* Gesture-recognition, for things like Select All, Delete Character, Clear, Escape (cancels dialogs), Return (confirms dialogs), Tab, Join Words (remove space), Space Bar (even multiple spaces and spaces BEFORE you enter letters), and Cut/Copy/Paste. All without the command-key.

* If you run out of screen and wrap to the next line, it does NOT assume a useless Return. thankfully.

* Library of custom words you can add to to help the Mac recognize your own common words like names. Tap a wrongly-recognized word to get a pop-up of alternate choices.

* Lots of preferences to adapt to your writing style (spacing, timing, how to auto-switch between writing and point-and-click modes, etc.)

* Optional marker sounds as you write (do a Find-Everywhere for files starting with Ink and you'll find the .aifs, playable in QuickTime).

* Capitals and lowercase, and Western Euro characters, but not cursive. I don't know if it learns your style as it goes like Newton did--maybe not, since Help doesn't suggest that it improves over time. Anyone with a Wacom pen have any impressions?

To check these options out, do a Find-Everywhere for "InkServer" and launch that app. That opens the InkBar, which you can play with (double-click a modifier to lock, toggle InkPad with the pad icon).

And from there, you can launch Ink Preferences (even though it is not normally in the Preferneces list for non-tablet-owners) and play with that. (To quit the InkBar, turn handwring On and back Off from Ink Preferences. Quit Preferences and the Ink Prefs icon will vanish--back to normal!)

And lastly--and most informatively--you can explore Ink Help by choosing that from the InkBar. (You CANNOT get to Ink Prefs from within Help, only from InkBar.)

(BTW, I have an ADB Wacom ArtZ-II and Griffin iMate--but ADB tablets are NOT supported in OS X, even with the latest Wacom and Griffin drivers. Any hacks/tips for me? The pen works as a mouse at least, even with NO drivers.)

Anyway, Apple HAS put a lot into this technology (including working a lot with Wacom, I seem to recall), and it DOES make you wonder why...

Last edited by nagromme; Apr 6, 2003 at 12:47 AM.
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