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Pen for OS/2 Update

From Pen Computing #8 February 1996

With all the hype related to Windows 95, the update of another product has gone largely unnoticed. That's too bad. However, for users of pen-based PCs, the confusion surrounding Microsoft's plans for continued pen support makes it a good time to look at IBM's update of Pen for OS/2, version 1.03.

IBM's first release of Pen for OS/2 was a good product in its own right. By being an extension of OS/2, Pen for OS/2 gave pen users full control over all of OS/2's powerful features. Also, Pen for OS/2 included a broad feature set of its own: customizable gesture support, keyboard macro capability, personalized handwriting recognition, and the Pen Tool Bar, to name just a few. When IBM released OS/2 Warp, users of mobile computers were given a new tool for power computing. With Warp's decreased memory and disk space requirements, a system with eight megabytes of RAM and a 100 megabyte hard drive was a viable OS/2 platform. With the availability of Pen for OS/2 1.03, users of pen-based PCs may now use Warp to their advantage.

This new release of Pen for OS/2 has several new and exciting features:

Direct input into data fields
You can now write into data input fields of non-pen aware applications. For OS/2 applications, when you move the cursor over a free-form data entry field, the cursor changes into a pen icon, indicating that you may input alphanumeric data using the pen. When you finish entering the data, it is recognized and automatically entered into the field. Fields already containing data may be edited in the same manner.

When a Windows or DOS application is run in a window as opposed to being run full-screen, Pen for OS/2 works virtually the same way. The only difference is that the cursor does not change to a pen icon when you move it over a free-form data entry field.

Alpha-only and Numeric-only data entry fields
You can specify that entry fields accept only letters or numbers as input. This is important if, for example, a field is to be used to enter a number from one to 99. To improve data recognition accuracy, you could specify that the field restrict the input to numeric characters only. This would cause the field to disregard any characters entered in the field that are not recognized as numbers.

Other new features include SOM support for object-oriented programming, bitmap inking and overlaying, and a boxed, lined, or unlined handwriting pad. These new features add greatly to pen For OS/2's versatility for both developers and users.

Supported hardware
Hardware support is where Pen for OS/2 really shines. Because it supports so many mobile and desktop products, companies looking to implement pen computing in their workplace have a wide variety of platforms from which to choose. Pen for OS/2 is also consistent when used with the various platforms, so it works the same on a $99 desktop pen tablet or a pen computer costing several thousand dollars. This is important when a company wants to use both desktop and mobile pen-based systems.

Pen for OS/2 drivers are available from the manufacturer for Badger 486P2; Compaq Concerto; Fujitsu Stylistic 500; Panasonic V21P; TelePad SL and 3; Toshiba Dynapad 100, 200, and 200C; Acecad AceCATII; and the Warp Speed Light Pen. Pen for OS/2 drivers are included in Pen for OS/2 for the IBMThinkpads 710T, 730T, 730TE, 750P, 360P, and 360PE; the CalComp 3300 Series; and the Wacom ArtPad, ArtZ, and SDSeries.

Software Support
Currently, Pen for OS/2-compliant applications may be developed using C subroutines obtainable from IBM, and any OS/2-compatible C/C++ development platform, such as VisualAge C++ for OS/2. Also, pen support may be obtained in VX-REXX from Watcom and AM for OS/2 from Intelligent Environments, Inc. IBM also has a program called Pen Assist for developers interested in writing Pen for OS/2 applications.

System requirements
Pen for OS/2 requires an extra two megabytes of memory over your system's current requirements (i.e. OS/2 Warp's minimum memory requirement is four MB plus four MB for your other applications, functions, and features, plus two MB for Pen for OS/2 = 10MB). Two MB of extra disk space is also required.
Pen for OS/2 version 1.03 requires OS/2 Warp for Windows, Warp Fullpack, or Warp Connect.

Recognizers
Currently, the only handwriting recognition engine available is IBM's ThinkWrite engine. No plans have been announced to support third party recognition engines.

Availability
Pen for OS/2 (Part Number 25H7380) is now available from IBM Direct (800) 342-6672 for $89.00, plus shipping and handling.

Contact information:
IBM VisualAge C++ for OS/2
(800) 342-6672 Part Number 30H1664
IBM Pen Assist Program
(800) 627-8363
Intelligent Environments AM for OS/2
(800) 669-2797
Watcom VX-REXX
(519) 886-3700

- Scott Taylor


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