Markus Egger on TabletPC and floating TIP vs. expando text boxes

Markus has an editorial in Code Magazine with a lot of great points.

He addresses the “why do I want one“ question, starting off with “Tablet PCs have many uses, but it seems that only a few of them are obvious to developers. I think this may have to do with the fact that most developers have the luxury of sitting down at a desk when they work on their computer. At the very least we can set our notebooks on our lap. But this is not true for a wide range of professions!”

He then talks about some issues he sees as a developer. One caught my attention because I actually discussed it on Thursday with Arin Goldberg (Tablet PC SDK Architect) and some others on the team – an expandable input control. A big issue with a tablet data entry application is screen real estate. You want the input controls large enough for handwriting, yet that would make most forms never be able to fit on the screen. The new version of Lonestar (Tablet PC 2004) has a wonderful TIP that pops up where your data entry field is. Field by field. This is close to what Markus is asking for. But another idea – which is where I believe Markus and I were on the same track  – is to have the actual textbox itself expand when you get to it. Without even all of the bells and whistles of the TIP. Just the box which does the reco (oh, that’s how the cool kids say “recognition”).

The answer I got from Arin was that this has been accomplished in OneNote, which means it can be done. However it won’t be a control provided to us — it is up to us developers to create such a control.

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