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To TIP or not to TIP, on tablet-enabling my application

Discussion in 'Tablet PC' started by Steve Niles, Sep 25, 2006.

  1. Steve Niles

    Steve Niles Guest

    I'm in the process of tablet-enabling my application. It's a general drawing
    program. I am debating whether to use TIP for all my input text controls, or
    use InkEdit controls, or something more custom. TIP seems to offer a whole
    lot of capabilities, and it's attractive to offer an interface control that's
    consistent with other applications (that also use (or default to) TIP), but I
    do hear some people complaining about it. I would be interested in hearing
    people's opinions.

    Thanks in advance.

    Steve Niles
    Steve Niles, Sep 25, 2006
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  2. You should always give the user as many options for inputting as
    possible. So your input fields would be best if they allowed handwriting
    or text. Then make them TIP enabled so the user can just type or use the
    TIP as they choose.

    Whatever you do DON'T make it modal as I have seen some apps. Users don't
    want to have to choose some menu item to tell the program that they are
    going to enter handwriting or text. Just let them enter whichever they
    feel like at the time just like the headers in OneNote.
    Grant Robertson, Sep 26, 2006
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  3. I agree with Grant.

    But I will say this. Tablet PC users do not like the TIP. No matter how good
    the TIP is, and it's good, it makes an application feel like a legacy app.

    Take a look at what I did with my app. The fields are large but since it's
    just for tablet users, this is ok. If your app is for both tablet and
    non-tablet, you may want to make scalable controls. But my controls allow
    inking directly on them or you can just click in it and start typing and you
    get a text box.

    I strongly believe that automatic recognition is a bad user experience.
    Therefore, I despise the InkEdit control. Three things I feel strongly about
    that are reflected in my controls:

    1) Context awareness. Don't use a single control for all data types. Fine
    tune your controls with subclassing to optimize for a specific data type.
    For example, if a field takes a date, use a date/time input scope but also
    have a context menu or something to select a date with a picker.
    2) Explicit recognition step. Once they've entered text, it's not up to you
    to decide when they're done inking and want it converted to text. Let them
    click something, preferably in the control itself, to "commit" the ink and
    get text out of it.
    3) Ample writing area and rule lines to help guide the user in writing.

    Hope this helps.
    Josh Einstein, Sep 26, 2006
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