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  Ken Hinckley






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What are some of the limitations of the prototype?

Because InkSeine is a research prototype, we sought to create a sandbox for ourselves where we could have free reign to try out silly ideas and crazy things that wouldn't necessarily provide a clean fit into Microsoft's existing products.

So we've taken some shortcuts in the development or avoided adding some fairly obvious "standard features." Often the clean, spartan design is a blessing, but sometimes a desirable feature just isn't there when you need it.

Below we've listed some of the known deficits of the application. Nonetheless on the whole it functions sufficiently well to give a real glimpse of what the future of Tablet PC software might hold.

  • Bugs. We have done our best to beat all of the bugs out of InkSeine, but undoubtedly we have missed some. Our team does not have the dedicated testing personnel of a real product team. Please report any bugs or failed installations and give as much detail as you can (copy the dialog or error message, describe what you were doing with InkSeine at the time, and tell us what device and operating system you are running InkSeine on). InkSeine auto-saves to a recovery file every few minutes, however, if your machine goes down or if you are unlucky enough to encounter a serious bug.

  • No text support. InkSeine has no support for text at all. You cannot paste text into InkSeine, nor can you type text into InkSeine. This is probably the biggest hole in the application's current functionality. We are going to explore pen-centric mechanisms for handling text so that we can try introducing text without ruining the great pen and ink experience of InkSeine, but we don't have a timeline for when that might be ready.

  • No keyboard shortcuts. InkSeine does not support any keyboard shortcuts or harware navigation keys at this time. Even though InkSeine is a pen-centric application, we realize there are times when one is viewing notes with the keyboard at the ready, so we hope to add some shortcut keys in a future update.

  • No scrolling, zooming, or "Insert Space" command. Although InkSeine often does quite well without added widgets for scrolling and zooming, this can be limiting at times. InkSeine always scales the page to fit the current dimensions of your screen, so for example, a page that you generated in the portrait display orientation will be scaled down so that the full page can be viewed in the landscape display orientation. This keeps with InkSeine's metaphor of a "real notebook," and can often remove the need for a lot of needless scrolling and zooming operations when you are going through your notes. On the other hand, the lack of scrolling is particularly limiting for small-screen devices such as UMPCs. Do you really miss having the ability to scroll, or do you get by fine without it? Let us know when you send in your feedback about the application.

  • No equivalent of a "Print to OneNote" driver for InkSeine. This is a great feature of OneNote / Windows Journal that is missing from InkSeine. We plan to explore whether it is possible for InkSeine to piggyback on either the OneNote or Journal print drivers to make it easier to import entire documents into InkSeine, but we're not sure yet if that will be feasible. As a work around, you can select individual pages that have been printed to OneNote, copy them, and then paste them into InkSeine.

  • Undo within a page only. The Undo command only works for operations that you have performed on the current page. Once you flip pages, or Save the file, the undo stack is purged. Also, all operations on pages (New Page, Insert Page, Delete Page, dragging pages to rearrange them, etc.) cannot be undone.

  • Large file sizes. InkSeine files can get fairly large, particularly if you embed a lot of screen shots in your notes. We have a simple xml file format for rapid development. This also makes it trivial for our file type to be indexed by Windows. However, our encoding of ink strokes and bitmaps is very inefficient as a result, and supporting features like embedding files (rather than links to files) would be impractical due to ballooning file sizes. Also, this contributes to InkSeine consuming more memory than it really should.

  • Unimplemented Commands. There are some permanently grayed-out commands in InkSeine's menus, such as the Import command on the File menu, Custom Pen and Highlighter settings on the Highlighter menu, or the different sized erasers on the Eraser menu. These are placeholders for functionality that we plan to add, but haven't gotten time to implement yet.

  • Slow performance in some cases. Performance can get slow if you create huge notes (more than about 30 pages with a lot of content) or if there is a large number of strokes, bitmaps, and particularly highlighter strokes all on the same page. For "normal" notes that aren't ridiculously dense, the performance is usually quite good, however. Also, InkSeine does background recognition of all the strokes on a page (in order to make them available for the indexer for search). This can sometimes bog down InkSeine on older tablets or notes that are extremely dense. The way we do the background recognition is not particularly clever, but usually it works ok and does not noticably degrade performance. If this does present a problem for you, use the Options panel to decrease the frequency of background recogntion, or disable it altogether if you wish.

  • Limited OneNote integration. You can copy and paste ink and highlighter strokes between InkSeine and OneNote. If you select both ink strokes and bitmaps from InkSeine, OneNote will only import the ink strokes. InkSeine places a bitmap representation of the selection on the system clipboard, but to our knowledge OneNote does not have a Paste Special command so that you can choose to paste this bitmap. OneNote always takes the ink strokes representation from the clipboard if ink is there. You can paste into Microsoft Paint or other applications to get at the bitmap representation if necessary. We support this to make it easier for people to experiement with InkSeine, yet still know they can move their notes into OneNote if that is what they use as their central repository for everything. Integrating other features of InkSeine into OneNote is currently beyond the scope of our research project.

  • Sharing or Syncing InkSeine notes. There is no support for zipping up an InkSeine note, with all of the files that it may hyperlink to, for sharing or sync'ing with someone else or to another computer. OneNote has excellent sharing and synchronization features; unfortunately, these would be too time-consuming to reproduce for InkSeine. We may eventually support exporting InkSeine pages to HTML, as one mechanism to share your notes with others.

  • Accessibility/DPI settings. InkSeine currently does not respect system DPI settings for menu sizes, etc., so it has accessibility and readability limitations if you have customized your system's settings for that.

  • Limited interoperation with non-Microsoft products. InkSeine will return search results for any file type that gets indexed by Windows Vista Search or Windows Desktop Search on XP. Some non-Microsoft file types require you to install plug-ins for search in order for the files to be indexed properly.
        InkSeine also provides a number of advanced features for Microsoft products and file types, such as the ability to open and link to Outlook emails. These features may not work for other mail programs. Similarly, features such as automatically attaching a hyperlink to image captures currently only work for Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer. They will not work for PDF files or web pages viewed in Firefox, for example.

  • No custom search filters. You cannot change the file types accepted by InkSeine's existing file type filters for personal (desktop) searches of your local hard disk(s). We also do not support defining additional filters for other file types. Also, you cannot change the search engine used for InkSeine's web search feature. We may add some limited support for customizing searches in a future release.

  • See the FAQ for tips, tricks, & workarounds for some of the quirks of InkSeine.

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