Responding to pen and stylus interactions (XAML)

Make an app that can create handwritten notes, drawings, and annotations, by adding support for a pen or stylus.

This documentation is relevant for developers building Windows Store apps for tablets and computers that have an attached digitizer that accepts pen input. The digitizer can be beneath the surface of the screen, or attached as a peripheral device.

Tip The info in this topic is specific to developing Windows Store app using C++, C#, or Visual Basic.

See Responding to pen and stylus interactions (HTML) for Windows Store apps using JavaScript.

Prerequisites: If you're new to developing Windows Store app using C++, C#, or Visual Basic, have a look through these topics to get familiar with the technologies discussed here.

Create your first Windows Store app using C# or Visual Basic

Create your first Windows Store app using C++

Roadmap for Windows Runtime apps using C# or Visual Basic

Roadmap for Windows Store apps using C++

Learn about events with Events and routed events overview

App features, start to finish: Explore this functionality in more depth as part of our App features, start to finish series

User interaction, start to finish (XAML)

User interaction customization, start to finish (XAML)

User experience guidelines:

The platform control libraries (HTML and XAML) provide the full Windows user interaction experience, including standard interactions, animated physics effects, and visual feedback. If you don't need customized interaction support, use these built-in controls.

If the platform controls are not sufficient, these user interaction guidelines can help you provide a compelling and immersive interaction experience that is consistent across input modes. These guidelines are primarily focused on touch input, but they are still relevant for touchpad, mouse, keyboard, and stylus input.

Samples: See this functionality in action in our Windows Store app samples.

Input sample

Input: Device capabilities sample

Input: Ink sample

Input: Simplified ink sample


A pen/stylus can serve as a precision pointing device. It can also be a drawing device associated with digital ink.

The Windows 8 ink platform, together with a pen/stylus device, provides a natural way to create handwritten notes, drawings, and annotations. The platform supports capturing ink data from digitizer input, generating ink data, rendering that data as ink strokes on the output device, managing the ink data, and performing handwriting recognition.

In addition to capturing the spatial movements of the pen as the user writes or draws, your app can also collect info such as pressure, shape, color, and opacity, to offer user experiences that closely resemble drawing on paper with a pen, pencil, or brush.

Note The ink platform in Windows 8 also supports input from other pointer devices, including touch digitizers and mouse devices.

The inherent precision of pen input is supported naturally by the UI of Windows 8, which is optimized for the imprecise nature of touch. Optimize your Windows Store app design for touch input and get basic pen support by default.

To support pen interactions in scenarios that emphasize direct manipulation, use the PointerEntered event to expose pen-specific UI. This pen-specific UI enables you to provide equivalent functionality for the users of your app independent of the device they are using. For example, when a pen is detected use a scrollbar to emulate panning or previous and next buttons to flip through pages of content.

In this section

Topic Description

Quickstart: Capturing ink data

This Quickstart walks you through capturing ink data from an input digitizer.


Responding to user interaction