Analyzing Your Text Input Scenario

While deciding how to implement text input in your application, the most basic question is whether handwriting needs to be converted to text. The term text refers to Unicode text and handwriting refers to ink which may be converted to text. This section describes considerations for the text input requirements for your application.

The following illustration shows a form in which some handwriting is converted to text and some handwriting is left as ink.




Recognition options

Your application can treat text recognition as an up-front process or as a background activity. You have several options when deciding how to implement recognition in your application. The process of converting handwriting to text is not error proof. Your users may need to deal with recognition errors. Correcting recognition errors tends to break the user's task flow, so be sure that the distraction is warranted. For example, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What's the primary format for the handwritten text? Note-taking applications such as Windows Journal store the original handwriting, so users can return to view and edit their handwritten notes. Other applications treat the handwriting as interim data to be discarded in favor of the recognized text. You can choose to store the original handwriting in addition to the converted text, such as for auditing purposes.
  • Is accurate recognition necessary? Users may want to quickly enter notes or sketches, which typically do not require accurate recognition. Optionally, your application can perform recognition in the background, and store the results for later searching or reference without showing them to the user. Many other user tasks, however, may require accurate recognition, such as logging on or matching a database record to a specific ID.
  • Do corrections need to be made immediately? Users are likely to require immediate confirmation and correction of handwritten text that must be accurate in order to be useful, such as e-mail addresses or names. In other input scenarios, users may prefer to have their original handwriting retained by your application. In such cases, the default recognition results can be stored in the background for possible later uses, such as searching or referencing.
  • What type of correction interface is needed? You can enable users to make quick corrections to ink, for example, by allowing them to use the scratch-out gesture to remove the incorrectly recognized ink and then rewrite it.You can enable users to make quick corrections to ink, for example, by using the scratch-out gesture. You can also provide a user interface in which user can choose from a list of alternate phrases that are returned by the handwriting recognizer.
  • Are there quicker ways for the user to accurately enter text? For example, you might provide a list of choices drawn from stored entries. Or, you could provide an AutoComplete control that displays previous entries matching the first few letters that the user writes.

Is Tablet PC Input Panel the correct interface?

If your application requires the immediate recognition of handwriting and user interface support for correcting recognition results and choosing alternates, we recommend that you use Tablet PC Input Panel with the standard Windows text controls. Input Panel is a familiar presence on Tablet PCs, and your users are likely to be accustomed to using it.

What type of content is the user entering?

What type of content will your users write? By classifying handwritten input, you can significantly improve the accuracy of text recognition. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does handwritten input mostly consist of common vocabulary words? Or do you expect users to frequently enter words that don't appear in the dictionary, such as names of places or people, slang, industry-specific terms, or e-mail addresses?
  • Can you classify content according to data types? Examples include e-mail address, date, URL, and phone number.
  • Does your content include special formats, like part numbers?

For more information about classifying the data types or word lists that are associated with input fields, see Improving Recognition Results.

Do entries tend to be repetitious?

In Windows Vista, Input Panel provides integrated behavior with AutoComplete fields. From Input Panel, users can pick from a list after writing just the first few letters of a string. AutoComplete is especially useful in cases where users enter lengthy or complex strings, such as frequently used URLs in a web browser. Be sure to enable AutoComplete on any text editing controls that you include on your forms. For more information, see Using AutoComplete with Input Panel.



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Build date: 2/8/2011

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