Text editors, email clients, and note-taking applications have become a daily touchpoint for most computer users; each relies heavily on the line-wrapped, or flowing, text paradigm for data entry and digital communication.
Over the past decade, advances in touchscreen and stylus inputs have brought with them a growing set of applications that allow users to annotate (or completely replace) their typed text with freeform drawings. Combining typed text and hand-drawn sketches is a natural progression – the two forms of input complement one another to provide a means of communication that can be fast, precise, and expressive.
Unfortunately, the reality of combining flowing digital text with sketches in a single interface is often tedious. The problem lies in the relative versus absolute positioning of the two paradigms.
To address this we created Sketchwrite, a minimalistic sketching and drawing application that lets users freely move between line-wrapped text entry and drawing (with a set of 6 basic drawing line types).
Alternatively, you can view an archived Sketchwrite note.
This paper provides a generalized approach for dynamically anchoring sketches within flowing digital text (i.e. line-wrapped typed characters), called buoys. By constraining certain parameters of the writing environment, users can freely move between typing notes and drawing sketches in situ without the need for explicit anchor points to maintain relative positioning.