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Pens and Pen Options

Depending on your usage scenario, you may choose to provide different styles and options for ink tools. Applications such as Windows Journal and Microsoft Office OneNote expose these options by providing toolbars from which users can choose various styles of pens and highlighters.

The following illustrations show how ink tools are presented in Windows Journal and Microsoft Office OneNote 2007. Both applications provide similar options, including pens, highlighters, and erasers.

 

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Users appreciate the availability of several preset pen styles that model real-world counterparts, so many ink-enabled applications provide a basic set of pens and highlighters. You can also offer options to customize tip size and color for a selected pen or highlighter. Consider your usage scenarios and what types of options your users might expect, and plan accordingly. Options give users a sense of control over their handwriting activities. However, in some scenarios, such as a simple inking field that capture signatures, extra options can unnecessarily clutter the interface and reduce efficiency.

Presenting ink tools and options

You may choose to present the set of ink tools on the main application frame so that the tools are always visible. Another option is to display the ink tools on a toolbar or palette that is optionally displayed if the application is operated on a Tablet PC. In an application like Windows Journal, the writing implements are central to the main purpose of the application, so the writing tools are always visible.

Keep in mind the following considerations:

  • If your writing tools aren't always displayed, be sure to make them visible to the user the first time your application is launched on a Tablet PC. If the application's ink tools are hidden by default, users may fail to locate the tools-they may miss out on the ink functionality.
  • Place writing tools in a separate area of the toolbar to emphasize which tools apply to pen input.
  • Allow controls for setting options like line width and color to apply broadly to both ink strokes and other formatting elements. For example, you might provide a single color picker that would set color for a selected block of text as well as for selected strokes or for the currently active writing implement. Or, a tool used to set line width on shape objects might also set the drawing width for the current pen.
  • Provide a tool that allows users to insert space within inked areas. One of the advantages of digital ink is that it can be edited so easily on Tablet PCs. Users are often pleased to discover that they can move a block of writing down the page to allow space for more handwriting.

Drawing attributes for digital ink

The Tablet PC programming interfaces provide a variety of drawing attributes that you can use to implement various user options for digital ink. For example, the DrawingAttributes class, used in combination with ink collecting objects such as InkOverlay, lets you set drawing options such as the color and opacity of the stroke, the shape and size of the pen tip, and whether to use anti-aliasing and pressure sensitivity.

The following tables list the pens and highlighters provided in Windows Journal, along with the DrawingAttributes properties for each. You might find it useful to experiment with the pens and highlighters in Windows Journal, and examine their drawing attributes as listed here.

All the pens and highlighters in Windows Journal use the following settings:

All the pens have the RasterOperation property set to CopyPen. The pens use the following drawing attributes:

Pen NameColorPenTipWidthHeight

Fine Chisel

Black

Rectangle

8

15

Fine Point

Indigo

Ball

15

15

Very Fine Point

Indigo

Ball

10

10

Medium Point

Red

Ball

30

30

Marker (2mm)

Black

Ball

90

90

 

All the highlighters in Windows Journal have the RasterOperation property set to MaskPen. The highlighters use the following drawing attributes:

Marker NameColorPenTipWidthHeight

Medium

Yellow

Rectangle

80

275

Medium

Lime

Rectangle

80

275

Medium

Aqua

Rectangle

80

275

Thick

Fuchsia

Rectangle

140

413

Extra Thick

Orange

Rectangle

160

492

 

Note  To create transparent ink for a highlighter pen, you can also set the Transparency property to a non-zero value (such as 175) and use the CopyPen raster operation. With this method, each stroke progressively darkens the highlight color, much like a real highlighting pen. See Sam George's article Tablet PC Pen and Ink for a comparison of the two approaches.

Related Topics

Microsoft.Ink.Drawing Attributes
DrawingAttributes Class (C++)

 

 

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Build date: 2/8/2011

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