Alternative input, like Dasher

Ulrik Rasmussen openmoko at
Wed Jan 17 22:18:05 CET 2007

Derek Pressnall wrote:
> One of my favorite alternative inputs is a system callec QuickWriting
> (I've also seen it called qwikscript, qwikscroll, etc).  The concept
> is that you have the alphabet aranged in groups along a circle, where
> the circle is divided into eight sections.  Each section contains 5
> characters.  To select a character, you drag the stylus from the
> center of the circle into the appropriate section, then either go back
> to the center, or enter an adjacent section(s) then go back to the
> center.  The section(s) you enter and leave determine the character
> selected.
> Once you get used to it (after about a week or so) you start to
> develope a "flow" for certain words and you can end up with a fairly
> quick input speed (faster than on-screen keyboard).  One
> implimentation is called QwikScript for Qtopia, but I haven't seen
> this done for GTK yet.  Check it out on

Hey, new to the list, I hope this gets sorted under the right thread ;).

I think this is a mighty cool idea! When using a stylus, a virtual QWERTY 
keyboard is not optimal at all, and gets annoying as soon as you need to 
write a lot of messages quickly.

Dasher seems cool, but is slow too. Also, it requires that the user has a lot 
of attention on the input system, because it doesn't follow a "fixed" 
convention (letters change size, sometimes you have to use your knowledge of 
the alphabet, because the letters aren't visible).

I tried a quickwrite demo here: and I 
think this seems like a better approach, though you have to learn a lot to do 
it, and some characters takes more effort to write than others. Do you know 
how many words/characters per minute it is possible to achieve?

I have been thinking about a system that sounds a lot like the one you are 
mentioning. The idea is that you have a "grid" of dots, which fill the whole 
screen. You then input characters by connecting these dots in a specific 

When two dots gets connected, the application will look at the direction in 
which you moved your stylus. If you for instance connect two dots on the same 
horizontal line by moving your stylus left, the application will recognize 
this as the equivalent of pressing the button "4" on a regular cell phone. As 
soon as your stylus is on the next dot, you can move it again. By connecting 
two other dots by moving the stylus up and right, you can then input the 
equivalent of the button "3". Combined with a normal T9-style dictionary, I 
think you'd be able to achieve some pretty good speeds, though it's only an 
idea. For instance, this would be required to write "hello":

move left (4)
move right-up (3)
tap a dot (5)
tap a dot (5)
move right (6)

I hope you can follow me, what do you think about the idea?


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