Three types of Tablet PC Applications

I sometimes find it useful to go back to introductory info on a topic after I have been using the technology for a while. This works because my focus will have changed dramatically since the first read-through.

That is the case with Frank Gocinksi’s Getting Started with Tablet PC Development article on the tablet pc developer center (This is the first of the articles Tablet PC 101 Column). Besides doing some quick tricks with the SDK, Frank talks at the end about the 3 levels of TabletPC Integration that ISVs can build into their applications.

The first is ISV Supported Applications

These are apps that are not specifically designed to leverage Tablets, but have some features that make it easier to use the app on a tablet

  • Install without a keyboard.
  • Run in both portrait and landscape display mode.
  • Behave normally, and, with the help of Input Panel, collect handwriting and transform it to text
  • Next is Pen-Centric Applications

    These apps again are not designed soley for Tablets, but have features in them that allow the user to leverage ink. So the developer may have added some special ink functionality (though it is still accessible via keyboard and mouse) like drawing, throughout the application. Pen-Centric apps will also take advantage of the new context-tagging feature so that it will be easier for the end-user go leverage context-tagging. Hmm there’s no article on that yet…but basically you can define the type of data that a particular field expects and then take advantage of filtering in the recognizers or a more flexible Tablet PC Input Panel. This is a feature of Lonestar and of TabletPC SDK 1.7 which is in beta right now. There is a tool you can use to define the context and then it is stored in an xml file which makes for some serious flexibility in programming and sharing the definitions. Very slick implementation.

  • Have incorporated ink into all or parts of your application.
  • Use the Tablet PC API to deliver support for ink and use of the pen.
  • Third and most TabletPC intense is Pen-Perfect Applications

    These are the apps that have been designed to make it a LOT better to use with the Pen than mouse & keyboard. These apps take advantage of gestures, symbols, pen pressure. They may even do things that you just wouldn’t or couldn’t do with a keyboard. Additionally, they are written using the Tablet PC Design Guidelines and as Frank says, these are the apps that are going to sell Tablets.

    Here’s Frank’s hit list:

    • Are optimized to run on the Tablet PC.
    • Fully support ink interoperability.
    • Use gestures as part of their user interaction model.
    • Adhere to our collection of Tablet PC Design Guidelines.

    Definitely check out this article for a more indepth look at these types of applications and links to examples.

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