Integrating Ink

Tablet PC users enjoy the capabilities of digital ink-a natural, expressive, and convenient way to create handwritten notes, drawings, and annotations. When recording and drawing strokes made from a tablet pen, Windows can capture both the spatial movements and the pressure exerted by the pen. When a Tablet PC application combines this information with drawing options such as pen shape, color, and opacity, users experience a writing experience that closely models their familiar expression of pen, pencil, or brush on paper.

Digital ink is important to mobile PC users in two situations:

  • When the tablet pen provides a more task-appropriate method of input than the mouse and keyboard. For example, many users find the tablet pen to be a superior tool for the creation of notes that incorporate mixed text and drawings.
  • When the tablet pen is the only convenient means of input. For example, the user might lack a convenient desktop surface on which to place a Tablet PC. In such an environment, the use of a keyboard or mouse to record information is not an option.

To get a better idea of the capabilities of digital ink, try it for yourself. Start with Windows Journal, a note-taking application included with Windows Vista. You can create rich ink documents with this application. There's also Journal Note Writer, which acts as a virtual printer-you can import documents from any application to Journal. You can then annotate those documents by using the various highlighters and pens that are available in Windows Journal.

Ink platforms

Developers can choose from several technology options when they create an ink-aware application. Choose the programming interface that best fits your feature requirements and the platform on which the rest of your application is built.

Platform Comments


Provides a mechanism for unmanaged C and C++ applications to incorporate ink. Includes low-level interfaces like IRealTimeStylus, which provides low-level access to ink flow through the digitizer, as well as controls such as InkOverlay and InkPicture, which provide basic end-to-end solutions. The ink analysis interfaces, which enable the parsing and analysis of ink writing and drawings, are also available through interoperability with the Microsoft .NET Framework.

.NET Framework

The Microsoft.Ink namespace provides a basic .NET Framework library of functions analogous to the COM API, including low-level RealTimeStylus, and high-level InkOverlay and InkPicture. The ink analysis API is also native to this platform.

Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)

Provides ink and editing as first class features of the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), including elements that can be used in Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) to collect, render, and edit ink. Real-time stylus input is also available. The richness of WPF makes it possible to do things that are not possible in any other environment, like real-time rendering of ink mapped to three-dimensional surfaces (for example, you might create an application that can annotate a 3-D digital model of a car). Ink analysis is also available.


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Build date: 2/8/2011