DrawPad user's manual


This manual gives quick hands-on introduction to the DrawPad program. DrawPad is an experimental system designed to shed light on the question: "What would be the ideal animated napkin sketch?" It is not a commercial product at this stage.

I tried to reduce things to their bare minimum, to create an interface that would encourage people to jot down their ideas with the same ease with which they now draw on a Whiteboard or a restaurant napkin. There are very few commands in DrawPad. Mostly you just draw things with your pen. It is very easy to introduce time into these drawings, so that somebody who later looks at these drawings can see your creation "process".

Also, it is very easy to nest animated drawings one inside the other, so that you can quickly create a "tree" of nested animated drawings. Those are the only two organizing principles. The goal is to (eventually) get to the point where DrawPad feels like a physical medium like paper, rather than a computer program.

The goal is to find a universal underlying "physics" that you would want to find on any PDA, Tablet PC, or Web Page. With such a physics, society can start to build a shared literacy that allows people to use animated "process" when describing their ideas to people who are separated from them in place or time, rather than being forced to reduce those ideas to text emails.

How to use the program

The basic conceit of the program is that it has only a few major metaphors:

  1. You can draw things free-hand, and your process of drawing can "animate" over time.

  2. This animated drawing can be split up into successive "shots", so that people can separately see just the first part of what was drawn, then the next part, and so on.

  3. You can easily create sub-drawings that can be zoomed into, by drawing a lower-right to upper-left diagonal line (a link gesture) through some object you've drawn, and then clicking on the object. This creates a new link at that object.

    When you click on this link, then you are zoomed into a new sub-pad, and you can make a sub-drawing there. Use the "up" arrow at the bottom of the window to zoom back out again.

    You can make sub-drawings of sub-drawings, to any nested level. In this way, you can nest arbitrary amounts of detail into a drawing.

Here are a few other things you can do:

Once a drawing is made, people can navigate it by clicking on links to zoom into things, and by using the three large arrow buttons that appear along the bottom of the drawing. These arrows do the following: