Working with the Pen Tip
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Working with the Pen Tip

Working with the Pen Tip

Overview of working with the pen tip for the Tablet PC.

Another challenge unique to pen-based computing is how the user's center of attention—the cursor—can be difficult to see. When the pen tip is on the digitizer surface, the pen itself and the users hand block what is immediately under the pen tip. One way to combat this is to provide feedback when users hover over controls that they can tap or interact with in other ways. A positive side effect of implementing this behavior is the function of your application is more apparent to mouse users also.

For example, a highlight appears around the inside edge of a standard button in Microsoft® Windows® XP when the cursor is over the button.

Using Hover Feedback to Show Hot Spots

When users employ a mouse, the hover feedback is extra feedback. It is relatively easy for them to see that the pointer tip intersects the buttons rounded rectangle. However, when users employ a pen, they can find it difficult to see the exact pointer location, so extra feedback is important. The following graphic shows the area that users can find hard to see on screen when they use a pen.



The Users Pen and Fingers Obscuring the Cursor

Your application can also provide better visual feedback for the pen tip if it uses cursor designs that are symmetrical. This is better because both left-handed and right-handed users can see the cursor. In addition, cursors with clear hot spots for right-handed and left-handed users helps them to be more precise when pointing to objects.


Examples of Cursors

The following types of cursors work well when users employ a pen:

  • Cursors with a clear hot spot. The pointed arrow accurately conveys where the pen engages the target.


  • Symmetrical cursors. Open, symmetrical cursors work well for left- and right-handed users because they do not obscure the writing surface and are less hidden by the pen and hand.


  • Cursors with a clearly defined pen nib. The cursor emulates the surface of the tool rather than deploying an image of the tool itself.


The following types of cursors may not work as well when users employ a pen:

  • Cursors without an obvious tip or pointer. These may be difficult for users to point.


  • Cursors with multiple images. The pen or the hand may hide these cursors.


  • Cursors with annotations that follow the pen hot spot. These may be distracting and do not have a clear hot spot.


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