This is a big feature when it comes to putting Ubuntu onto tablets. Currently, Netbook edition works great for that purpose and the pen digitiser is perfect, but the handwriting would be a real dealmaker (especially for my business - we could actually move to Linux) to compete with the Windows one.

CellWriter exists, but that only handles character and keyboard input (but I don't know about multitouch on the keyboard). It also needs to handle print and cursive, because character mode can be slow and uncomfortable (unless you're writing passwords). Lastly, CellWriter needs to have some default letter shapes rather than having to be trained from the start.

There is a software package called MyScript (by Vision Objects) that handles all four modes (keyboard, character, print, cursive) plus calculator and fullscreen, but it's only free as a trial. Still, it would be nice to see it in the For Purchase section and the trial in the free section of the Software Centre.

The only other ones are for Chinese/Japanese/Korean characters.

What would really make a difference for us is the integration of some formal API with the OS that can automatically activate when running on a tablet to pass ink data to whatever recognition system is installed, and have something available (however rudimentary) to use it.

  • 2
    I'm not sure of what is the question here. I think this probably should go on Ubuntu Brainstorm. Jan 19 '11 at 19:45
  • Well I know there is a big project going with multi-touch gestures, so I'm asking, is there something on the table regarding standardised handwriting?
    – Patrick
    Jan 19 '11 at 21:09
  • You're asking about handwriting detection while there is no real OCR tool available (at least not supported by Canonical; ie. not in main repository)...
    – papukaija
    Jan 22 '11 at 0:11
  • @papukaija - There are OCR tools, but they're not real time or system wide. Jan 22 '11 at 22:02
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    I would agree one of the most important developments in the computing world is the ability of the computer to interact with the human on the humans terms I would think that it would behoove Ubuntu to work on Handwriting rec, voice rec, as well as the type of interactions that the new Kenect from MS has introduced. if Linux is to make a dent in the future of computing it has to push forward in these and other areas!
    – user11302
    Feb 23 '11 at 9:44

Ubuntu keeps all it's plans in a system on launchpad called blueprints, each feature or plan is carefully laid out and given a time line. Searching this database I can find no release targeted specifications for handwriting. But I did find this user created specification back in Boston-UDS 2007:


Perhaps it's time for you and others to pick this up and beat the drum so Mark and the Platform team will take the lack of handwriting recognition as a problem that needs fixing in the next release.

Now Ubuntu is based on Gnome, and checking Ubuntu functionality at this level wouldn't be complete without looking for gnome solutions. For that I come across this project called CellWriter:


Gnome plans are not firm on the matter of hand reorganisation, so it's not likely we'll get leadership in putting the functionality into Gnome by default. My best advice would be to try CellWriter, if it does the job then push for it's inclusion by default by creating or modifying the blueprint and keeping at the issue through the release cycle.

  • This should be lobied as an accessability issue. Handwriting is an alternative input option, and for some can be the only input method. As I found when I used to sell computers a few years back. Jan 25 '11 at 3:52
  • @Kyle Please consider contacting Penelope Stowe of the Accessibility Team to discuss the issue further. Jan 25 '11 at 4:00
  • As I said, CellWriter - while good - doesn't support the full range of handwriting input (print and cursive) and needs to be trained before it can be used. It would be good to at least have default behaviour so it can train itself.
    – Patrick
    Jan 25 '11 at 12:56
  • @Patrick - That's a development job, as you can see, I can find no such plans to spend the time or money on building that functionality at this time. Jan 25 '11 at 14:55

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