Write with a stylus

It will be possible to write
with a IPad stylus pen ?

For handwriting notes? Say when proof reading / editing?

That’s something I’m keen to look into, although where my investigations will sit on our development timeline…

Scrivener isn’t currently geared up for hand written notes as a layer atop text. I think I’ll need Keith in an exceptionally good mood to raise the possibility of enabling the feature across the product line. If Scrivener can handle it, and the iPen takes off then of course it’s much more likely we’ll look at integrating.

In my own work I use comments quite heavily, being able to scrawl (rather than type) notes on the iPad and have those same hand written comments linked to the text and visible on the desktop would suit me down to the ground, even if the scrawl-note (I’m making up terms here) is just an inline / nested image.

As to the iPen, it looks good. I was lucky enough to get in at the early-bird pledge stage so come January I should have an iPen in my mitts. The hardware’s been available from other sources (I can’t re-find the link but I saw it on a DE site for about €130 I think), so I wonder if Cregle have simply purchased the designs / rights. If so then the hardware might be mature enough to work as they say it will and not have too many delays in launching.

If and when I get the chance, I’ll have a look at the development work. I suspect (Okay I know for a fact) that adding Scrawl Compatibility into the iOS app will be the “easy” bit. Getting it to work in a way that’s good for everyone and good for the desktop will form the bulk of the work.

So in summary, it’s on the “Things I want to look at and discuss with the team” list, and not yet on the “Definitely going to be there in v1.0” list.

I second this idea. I would also love it if Scrivener for iPad supported this. What would be even more great if there was a way (a plug-in or extension from another program maybe?) to convert handwritten text into typewritten text. That could take care of the keyboard problem. I sometimes find it easier to handwrite a scene first and not having to type it up would save a lot of time and make iPad + Scrivener + Stylus + handwriting recognition into one awesome setup for writers!

I would LOVE this. Some days it just feel better to write a scene rather than type it. Not a must-have, but it would definitely be an awesome addition and make this more of a powerhouse app. Some smartphones allow you to type (Samsung Impression) and convert it to text. Something like that would be amazing!!! Keep up the good work!

Even though the iPad isn’t targeted as a device for handwriting, It’s certainly technically possible. The trouble (as I see it) with handwriting recognisers is it’s a niche within a niche. Many people are happy to type, and many of those that prefer to write are happy to keep their notes viewable as handwritten text.

I used to use oneNote on an OQO E2 and it was nice, but (maybe it was just my handwriting) but the Microsoft text recognition engine was never quite good enough - a bit like speech recognition. I preferred to keep my input as digital copy of the handwritten so I could see the edits and mind-map arrows etc.

But… even 95% successful text recognition would be useful for searching, so I think it’s worthwhile it going on the request list, and we’ll see how things pan out.

(I feel like I’m being Paul Merton on Room 101 bbc.in/sScIj0)

Hi Jenny, it’s me Dee again. I was happy to see this post of yours as well. It is presumptuous of me to “agree” with you, not being a programmer at all, but from my many years of layman experience, I think you are right: at the moment the quicker, easier and more realistic solution is to just have an image of one’s handwriting attached to the file being commented/annotated this way.

I have found some other issues, when trying handwriting (without recognition), that makes the experience less than ideal and I wonder what you think about these problems as far as future implementation in iScrivener is concerned:

Most apps that allow handwriting do not have a good enough algorithm to smooth the writing, so one ends up with unpleasant looking files (chicken scratch)... If the smoothing is great (as in Bamboo, Noteshelf, or Penultimate) the size of the app gets large and there may be memory and other problems if the app wants to do a number of other things as well. So it seems there has to be a compromise?

Most apps don't offer a zoom feature to enable the user to write large in the zoom window, but have the text reduced to small size on the "page", so that an electronic page could contain roughly as much text as a 8x11 sheet of paper would of text written on it by pencil or pen (or proportionately the same for a yellow sticky note type of image). Is this difficult technically speaking?

Most apps don't allow a fast enough autoforward feature in the writing area (zoom window), at least not fast enough for me. The result is that I have to slow down every 2 or 3 seconds, when I reach the right end of the writing area, and have to stop for a (split) second, or hit the forward button, which may not sound like a big deal but it actually is because it continually disrupts the flow of writing/thinking and introduces an artificial technical obstacle that should not be there. It's like dictation in the old days when you had to stop after each word for a second. Very unnatural. We just don't talk or think  -- or write -- like that. Is the slow speed a technical limitation, the iOS or the chip not being fast enough to move the handwriting up to the page? I would like to doubt it since no text recognition is involved here.

Handwriting recognition is still one of the holy grails. A year or so ago I was excited to see that there were handwriting recognition apps for iOS and was anxious to try them, hoping the technology has come a long way since the 1990s. Tried Phatware products (WritePad, PhatPad) and was very disappointed as far as real life usage is concerned. Yes, if, and that’s a big if, you write very neatly and clearly, the recognition can now be spectacular. But the whole point is to jot something down quickly, not to create a calligraphic masterpiece. And those quick notes are usually completely senselessly misinterpreted, at least for me.

But I wonder what you think about the reality/doability of the following possibilities:

1 Licensing. Licensing an existing technology and perhaps offering it as an option (perhaps as an in-app purchase?)? I am aware of one app (Underscore Notify) that licensed Phatware’s technology this way. Other companies (7Notes, My Script Memo) may be interested as well… (I have no idea if they have another recognition technology or not.) People who write very neatly or slowly or “print” may well be very happy to have this option in iScrivener.

These are handwriting recognition technologies. Another interesting possibility may be to license a “calligraphic” handwriting technology, such as Use Your Own Handwriting. Their technology creates “pretty” handwritten notes, pleasant to look at, and not chicken scratch, that is anything but conducive to work and inspiration. No recognized editable text here, just images, but at least one is not horrified by one’s own terrible handwriting… : -)

2 Dreaming of a service, something like Dragon for dictation, that will probably be offered sooner or later by a large company with the necessary resources to recognize accurately enough the handwritten text that is uploaded to them over the Internet and then immediately sent back to the user as editable electronic text, as Dragon does with voice recognition – or maybe this already exists? Evernote must be doing something like this already since they can search handwritten notes. If so, could users of iScrivener sign up and take advantage of such a system from within the app? Another dream would be to have this same system but improved by allowing delayed recognition for those times when one is not connected. Is any of this on the horizon, or am I hopelessly dreaming still?

Thanks, and sorry for being so long-winded.


Stylus / finger writing is not something I’m devoting time to at the moment. Getting the core feature set in place is naturally of a higher priority.

But here’s my thoughts anyway…

There are open source handwriting recognition solutions out there, I don’t know if there is a tech that can be licenced which performs better than those.

My gut feeling is that smoothing out notes isn’t an unsermountable problem. It feels that a math / curve based solution is the way to go.

I’m keen to see my iPen when it arrives, I’m interested to see how an a rice stylus works on an iPad. I’ve used active tablets before and have a Wacom intuos. For a pen like feeling there’s no denying that an active stylus gives a better feel.

Actually I think there’s a demand for an active stylus on an iPad, as long as apple only allow us devs to use it for writing and drawing and not act as a mouse replacement (no wimp environment!) I don’t think adding it to the platform will limit iOS.

I’ve now tried quite a few iPad apps that allow you to write with a finger/stylus. I thought it would be fun to ‘write electric’, but at the end of the day it would always have been much, much faster to type the same text and, for me, most times handwritten notes have to be rendered into type at some point.

I still use my Griffin stylus for drawing though, it’s got a nice feel to it.

The Cregle iPen looks pretty good…

I love this suggestion and this is actually why I came to the board as I was going to suggest it. There are thousands of writers out there who write the old fashioned way and then type it into the computer after. There is some research that states that typing stifles the creative process for many writers. I’ve recently discovered I’m one of them. Something happens between the brain and keyboard and thought to pencil is more natural. Don’t get me wrong, lots of successful writers use their keyboards without an issue. I purchased the iPad pro with the pencil for this very reason. I’m writing on screen and then transferring to Scrivener (I can’t give up Scrivener, I love it!). So it would be a wonderful option, one I would be willing to pay more for.

If you’re willing to use a third-party soft “keyboard” you can input to Scrivener via handwriting recognition on your iPad or iPhone now. My favorite is WritePad by PhatWare, but MyScript Stylus by MyScript also has this function. WritePad advertises itself as a notetaking app, but I only use it as a third party keyboard. The keys to getting decent recognition are taking the time to tell the app about your writing preferences, writing big, and leaving lots of space between words.