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A Tablet search tool

Here’s another one of those hard-hat projects I’ve been working on that you might want to try out. It’s a web page that contains a TIP in which you can launch a search. I call it SearchTIP. Here’s the link.

If you go to the above link it’ll take you to the following page:

SearchTipSmall.png

The page is really simple. It contains an inkable control (shown in yellow) in which you can handwrite a query and buttons that launch one of three search types.

To use the SearchTIP, simply handwrite what you want to search for in the yellow area and click on the appropriate button.

(Note: This page is meant for Tablet users and currently only supports .NET 1.1. You’ll also need Internet Explorer when visiting the page. And sorry, the control in the web page performs handwriting recognition so it’ll only run on the Tablet OS. Finally, you may need to add the url to the SearchTIP page to your trusted sites list in IE too.)

Why did I write this? It’s a long story, but in a nutshell it’s one of those projects that I had long convinced myself was not worth doing. The TIP (Tablet Input Panel) in Service Pack 2 is simply good enough for most of my ink-input needs.

However, recently I was helping Lan’s seven-year old niece get up to speed with her new slate Tablet. I wanted to explain to her how to search the web without a keyboard. There was one catch: She lives several thousand miles away in Taiwan and I was finding it a challenge to describe how to do things. Unfortunately my Mandarin is basically non-existant and her English is good enough to be frustrating. The issue wasn’t IE or the Internet itself. Like many seven-year olds she’s very adept at the Internet and browsers. She was having trouble though searching the Inkernet with her new Tablet. And I was finding it difficult to explain how to use the TIP within IE. Seeing the difficulty we were having I figured I needed to program up something to help her. I also decided it needed to be something she didn’t have to install. It needed to be browser based.

I settled on building a TIP that embeds in a web page.

SearchTIP is my first attempt at such a utility.

Let me know what you think or what you’d like to see.

As with other projects, this is a work in progress, but there is enough there that you might find it useful as is. I’ll describe in a future post what features are supported and which ones are pending.

Try tapping and sliding on the white recognized words, for instance, and you’ll see some immediate differences with the Tablet’s TIP. SearchTIP allows you to join words or “commit” to a particular recognition as you are handwriting new words. This is an approach I’m experimenting with to see if I can handwrite function names more easily.

SearchTipTapAndSlide.png

Anyway, this is just a beginning and here are some problems I know of:

1. Sometimes the ink stops being recognized. Erase or scratch out a word and it’ll start up again.
2. There’s no correction UI. Yeah, I need to work more :-).
3. The first time you visit the SearchTIP in a new IE window there’s a five second or so hit–even on a broadband connection. I’m guessing it’s the .NET framework getting set up.

  1. Loren – good stuff. I just blogged it. I’ve been wanting to do a lot more of this type stuff for awhile.

    If you don’t mind me asking, who is tabletpcblogs.com using for hosting? I’m in the market for a good host with 1.1 and 2.0 .NET hosting that is developer friendly. Suggestions? I will probably go with a dedicated server.

    If you don’t want to reply here then please email me back with the answer.

    Thanks 🙂

  2. Hi TDavid, Layne handles the issues with the servers. I’ll pass the question along to him. I’m sure he will be interested in passing along his thoughts and experiences.

  3. Tried the IE tab in Firefox. It sort of works. I come up with a script error and the just hit continue running scripts and it performs the search.

    Very nice begining. This should be a part of IE for Tablets.

  4. Sandy, Great to hear the IETab works in Firefox. And thanks for pointing out the error. This should be fixed now.

  5. Ok,must not be simple enough for me. It just takes me to a fresh Google search page after I type something in the window.

  6. Hi Joe, if you’re able to type in the edit field then the ink control didn’t launch. There currently aren’t any tests to ensure that you’re on a Tablet, using .NET 1.1, and IE. These are three requirements. If these three conditions are met and you’re still not seeing the control, then there’s another possibility that the security settings in your browser are blocking the control. If you set http://www.TabletPCBlogs.com as a trusted site, this should solve that issue.

    Let me know if this helps.

  7. I should have said that after I wrote something in the window instead of type. The tablet I use meets the other requirements.

  8. I have a TabletPC. I have 1.1 and 2.0 of the .NET framework installed.

    I can write into SearchTip, but nothing gets recognized. It looks like the recognizer doesn’t even get invoked.

    My tcserver.exe.config contains:

    requiredRuntime version=”v1.1.4322″ safemode=”true”

    bindingRedirect oldVersion=”1.7.2600.2180-1.7.2600.2657″

    newVersion=”1.7.2600.2657″

  9. Hi Paul,

    There is a bug where the recognition freezes. Maybe that’s what’s going on here. It can be restarted by drawing the scratch gesture.

    Actually, can you let me know if the scratch gesture works at all? You can email me at lorenheiny@hotmail.com.

    Thanks!
    Loren

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