25 Jan 2009
The Stylus/Handwriting Input Panel (SHIP) is a system for Cursive and Printed writing entry for computers using an X11 User Interface.
The first version works well for me now. My Linux system allows me to enter text by recognising my handwriting on my Fujitsu slate computer.
Other than conceptually, I always intended that this implementation would be discarded in favour of a more usable approach. I have been interrupted by personal issues due to an employer going out of business and me having to move, but I am beginning work on this system again and intend to have something of a ‘Version 1.5’ available in the next month or so.
The current system immediately recognises handwriting and converts it to text – discarding the actual strokes written. The recognised text is pasted to the desired application window. I call this ‘Immediate Recognition’. It is of limited use, but is fully functional now.
More useful is what I call ‘Latent Recognition’. This allows the original handwriting strokes to be saved as a primary data format, which could be recognised at any later time by the computer, for instance, in searching through notes. This requires the recognition be always available to the system as a service.
The ‘Version 1.5’ release I mention above will provide this using the current implementation, and will allow people to begin developing general Tablet facilities. With recognition available as a system service, any input field could be modified to allow handwriting input, and any document could save the original handwriting for later processing. There’s work to be done implementing that, but it will be broadly possible.
This ‘Version 1.5’ will still rely on the current MS InkServer approach I am providing in the released software – it works but is inconvenient.
I also have (conceptually) a ‘Version 2’ in mind, which will still use the MS libraries, but will be much more convenient and make the service much less obtrusive. I do not have the software skills to write it (I don't know MS Windows COM), but I have a plan, and there is a good likelihood of releasing it later this year. I will need help, and I will write more about that soon.
The current software has worked well for me for nearly a year, and I see that many people have downloaded the packages. I have not heard any complaint (or other feedback) in that time, so I presume that it’s working for you as well as it is working for me. I can’t fix what I don’t know is broken, so if you are having problems, please leave me a message in the project forums.