I happened upon a blog post by the Office team yesterday which surprised me, because it talked about a feature in PowerPoint that I’ve wanted ever since I first got my Surface 2.
Here’s a link to documentation on how to use this feature in PowerPoint.
It seems like the obvious feature a tablet should have.
Here’s a video of me using it to draw a few random shapes:
But not just in PowerPoint – this should be in Word, in OneNote, in Paint, and pretty much any app that accepts ink.
And at last, OneNote
So here’s the blog post from Office noting that this feature will finally be available for OneNote in November.
On iPad, iPhone and Windows 10. Which I presume means it’ll only be on the Windows Store / Metro / Modern / Immersive version of OneNote.
That’s disappointing, because it should really be in every Office app. Hell, I’d update from Office 2013 tomorrow if this was a feature in Office 2016!
Let’s not stop there
Please, Microsoft, don’t stop at the Windows Store version of OneNote.
Shape recognition, along with handwriting recognition (which is apparently also hard), should be a natural part of my use of the Surface Pen. It should work the same across multiple apps.
That’s only going to happen if it’s present in multiple apps, and is a documented API which developers – of desktop apps as well as Store apps – can call into.
Well, desktop apps can definitely get that.
How can I put it into my own app?
I’ll admit that I haven’t had the time yet to build my own sample, but I’m hoping that this still works – there’s an API called “Ink Analysis”, which is exactly how you would achieve this in your app:
It allows you to analyse ink you’ve captured, and decide if it’s text or a drawing, and if it’s a drawing, what kind of drawing it might be.
[I’ve marked this with the tag “Alun’s Code” because I want to write a sample eventually that demonstrates this function.]