Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen  SOLVED

For users with issues, or feature requests, on touchscreen devices.

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User4455
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Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:27 am

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a big fan of PDF-XChange Editor due to it's capabilities in handling many pdfs at the same time. Also, I appreciate that it generally supports my surface pen on my surface book V1. However, the behaviour of the software (I keep it up to date; current build is 7.0.327.1; I own a licences of the "PDF-Tools"-package) is not yet ideal, when I handle my documents "like paper", meaning I handwrite with my pen and move and zoom with my fingers. In particular, I see the following issues:

1) Generally, the software automatically recognizes the pen tip and starts inking when the tip touches the screen. The software generally switches back to the hand-tool, when I lift the pen. However, there are two cases, in which the software does not switch back. This frequently leads to accidentyll drawing an unwanted ink line with my finger. Firstly, the software does not switch back to the hand-tool when I have changed the ink-color (or type). Secondly, when I use the eraser of my pen the software does also not switch back to the hand-tool afterwards, but switches to the ink-tool. Both cases lead to colorful but annoying lines on the page (the undo-button is my friend).

This behaviour seems to me to be a bug. If not, I would appreciate an option in the preferences that basically says: Be consequent, fingers move and zoom only, pen tip writes only, eraser erases only.

2) Annotations are objects that can be selected with both my finger and the pen tip. This can be frustrating, because when trying to move (or zoom) the page, I often accidentally hit an annotation-object and then move the object instead of the page. This can become particularly annoying when I show other people my documents on my device and they start to move or zoom the page (as they are used to from their mobile phones). Because they dont know this issue, things get messy.

This behaviour seems to be a design philosophy that I suggest to overthink. Maybe an option generally protecting all annotations might help.

3) My third issue has the same origin as the second one, i.e. the annotations are objects which are selected by any input device. The problem here is, that it is practically impossible to draw a new ink-line onto any annotation that is already there. One particular use-case is that I first draw a thick line over a text of the pdf (for highlighting) and then want to underline (ink! not the underline-tool) one or two words within the higlighted passage ("double-higlighting" if you will). I have found a somewhat goofy workaround in moving the first highlighting away, drawing my underlines and moving the highligting back. However, this is annoying and also makes the behaviour less "natural". For futher illustration, a second use case is that i have handwritten on the page and later I want to add some handwritten text in close proximity, underline some of the handwritten text or something like that, i.e. modify the old handwritten object. In this case, the pen tip also selects the old object instead of drawing new lines.

I understand, that the software is not exactly a creative drawing software. However, a more natural behaviour "like paper" will facilitate paperless work in fields which still today heavily rely on paper, lawyers notably.

****

In summary, even though the software generally supports my hardware (which is great!) the behaviour of the software is not yet "natural". Therefore it requires quite some training and is still annoying at times.

Please let me know, if I have overlooked some existing options or if you are planning to adress these issues in the future.

I will be happy to provide further info, if necessary. Also, since PDF-XChange Editor is my MAIN work tool (I am a lawyer, so my job is basically to read and understand text documents), I will also gladly provide further feedback, if you can use it to improve the software.

Best regards.

***

Further keywords: stylus, tablet

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:30 pm

Hello User4455,

I have been unable to reproduce the first issue on my end, however for your second and third points, we have an "Exclusive mode" toggle that should help considerably. This is found on the Format toolbar of most annotations, for example, the typewriter:
DMKB18November651.png
simply click the Exclusive mode toggle and it should remain on until manually toggled off again (holding ctrl will also temporarily override it). This should allow all annotation to be placed on to of each other regardless of existing placement, as well as allow many tools, such as the hand to operate mostly independently (there will still be some cases where the hand tool interacts directly with content items).

Back to the first issue, do you have any windows or stylus settings in place that could affect this, for example, the "Ignore palm" option may have an effect, please try turning it off and on to see if the situation changes at all. Restarting the Editor each time you change these settings as well.
Daniel McIntyre
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:05 am

Dear Daniel,
you just made my work-life so much easier! Thank you.
I will get back to you on the first issue.

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:40 am

Dear Daniel,
I have looked into my "Pen & Windows Ink"-settings. The ones relating to handwriting-recognition and to the pen-buttons don`t seem relevant.
The general options are: "show visual effects", "show cursor" and "Ignore touch input during use of pen" (my WIndows is german, so my translations might differ from the english version).
All three general options have been "on". I have tried toggling them "off" and restarted the Editor. It did not solve the first issue.

Any further thoughts?

Thank you.

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Wed Nov 07, 2018 7:08 pm

Hello User4455,
I am just awaiting developer input on this matter, apologies in advance for any delays.
Daniel McIntyre
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:38 am

Dear Daniel,
may I ask, if you are still working on this issue?

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Thu Nov 22, 2018 5:47 pm

Hello User4455,

Sorry for that, I We have still not been able to reproduce the issue on our end. When this handling is in place of course the digitizer will select the Pen tool, as desired, but when the digitizer is no longer in use it will switch back to the last selected tool. If you had selected the "pen" tool before hand, then upon removing the digitizer, it will recognize that it is already on the appropriate tool. another option is if while using the digitizer you select a different tool, then switch back to the Pen tool, the Editor still sees the Pen tool as the last one that was manually selected.

Can you confirm if this may be the case, or does this frequently happen even when you make absolutely no changes to the tools in use?
Daniel McIntyre
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:32 pm

Dear Daniel,
thank you for your latest reply and sorry for getting back to you so late. I hope I can better clarify my issues as follows:

I think we need to distinguish between the two cases.

A) "Changing ink color/style"
As I understand your latest reply, it is a purposive behaviour that - when lifting the surface pen - the tool-selection reverts to the previously selected tool. I have now tried this by selecting random tools and then lowering and lifting the pen. It does also switch back to the previously selected tool.
Thus, we have found the reason (though not yet a solution) for my issue. The problem now seems to be, that by changing the ink color (through right-clicking on the ink-button and selecting a style) I also (have to) select the ink-tool. Therefore, when lifting the pen, the tool selection can only go back to the previously selected tool, which is - of course - the ink-tool.
However, my problem remains: Whenever I need to change the ink-color/style, I need to reset the "previously selceted tool" to the hand-tool. This is quite annoying and I also keep forgetting this, which results in the mentioned "colorful lines" made with my finger.

Thus, I suggest overthinking the current rules on tool-selection. one approach might be to introduce a "Tablet/stylus-mode" with a clear rule such as "inking only by pen; finger always uses hand-tool" (Note that I also use a mouse for all other tools, which - admittedly - might not be the case in most tablet-use-cases). Another approach might be to introduce a strict and exclusive assignment of the pen to the ink-tool, so that the pen - and only the pen - always triggers the ink-tool.

I see that there might arise futher conflicts, but I am still of the opinion that the current behaviour severly limits the user experience.

B) "Eraser"
The surface pen - as a specialty - comprises an eraser, which seems to be supported by the Editor. When I lower the eraser-end of the pen - which is opposite of the tip - onto the screen, the Editor automatically switches to the eraser-tool. So far, so good. However, when I lift the eraser-end again, the tool-selection always switches back to the ink-tool, irrespective of which tool I had selected before. The result is - again - that I need to pay high attention to the tool-selection unless I want to have more "colorful lines".

***

Thank you for your continued support. Please let me know, if you need further input on this. I hope you can adress these issues in future updates.

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:38 pm

Hello User4455,

I have created a bug report to keep track of this, while it is internal, you can ask for a progress update in this thread or by asking any member of our support team about ticket number:
RT#4586

I was still unable to reproduce this on my end, though have compiled your information in the ticket, and left a link to this post for our development team. If they need additional information from you, I am sure they will reach out while working on it.
For the time being, I cannot provide a timeline for this fix, especially with the inability to reproduce the issue, this may be a long term ticket. I apologize for the inconvenience in the meantime, and I sincerely hope that we can resolve this faster than expected.

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:10 am

Thank you, Daniel.

I understand that both issues A) and B) might be difficult to solve, if you cannot reproduce them. I hope I was at least able to describe the issues in an understandable manner so that your developer's have a benefit from it.

How can the development team reach out to me? Should I regularly check the forum or can I somehow provide my email-adress without posting it here?

Best regards!

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:53 pm

Hello User4455,

So long as the email address attached to your forum account is current, the dev team will likely ask me to get in contact with you when such a time comes. In that case I will both post here, and send you an email, no worries!

Have an excellent day!
Daniel McIntyre
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Wed Dec 19, 2018 8:30 am

It is current.

Nice new look of the forum, by the way.

Cheers!

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Wed Dec 19, 2018 5:25 pm

:D
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:00 am

Dear Tracker-Team,

could you kindly let met know if this ticket RT#4586 still exists and/or is being worked on?

The problems as decribed in my post of Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:32 pm still (current build) exist and are still pretty annoying.

I just think that the current behaviour makes using the Editor on a tablet with pen - even though rich in options - really tricky. As my organisation is currently in transformation from a paper-based-setup to a more digital work-setup (actually not corona-related), I would like to advertise a tablet-setup to my colleagues, obviously with the Editor as the best pdf-viewer/annotator for that purpose. However, with the current behaviour I guarantee that anyone who is even a little bit lazy when it comes to computers (i.e. 90% of people) will say "this is not relyable to work with" or "this is too complicated, i will just print everything, draw on the paper with a real pen and have a secretary scan the paper" (You will think this sounds crazy, but this is the reality, at least in my field).

Maybe think about it this way: Why should changing the ink-color by pen cause a later finger-input to draw with that color? Would it not be more natural to have the finger-touch do whatever else it is supposed to do (usually move and zoom)? It appears obvious to me that, when I use the pen to draw stuff, i do not want to use my finger for that.

So, I would greatly appreciate it and - in my opinion - it would improve the product, if these issues were fixed, which hopefully results in a behaviour "like paper", i.e: pen draws, eraser erases, hand moves (and zooms) the page.
(If other tools come into play, the rules might differ a little)

Maybe a simple approach might be to introduce options such as:
"Finger-touch never operates ink (and eraser)"
"Mouse-click never operates ink (and eraser)"
"Lifting pen or eraser leads to selection of Hand-Tool"

In any case, please let me know if there are still issues on your end in reproducing and/oder understanding the issues. I actually thought about making a video of the behaviour, but would first like to ask, if this will even help. So please let me know, if I can be of any further assistance in this regard.

Thank you very much!

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:23 am

one more idea:
Maybe the "last selected tool" could be implemented seperately for all the input types:

I.e. the software would keep track of
the tool lastly selected by pen,
the tool lastly selected by finger-touch, and
the tool lastly selected by mouse-click.

Then the inputs could be completely independent from each other an would not interfere with each other.

Cheers

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Wed Jun 17, 2020 12:29 am

Hi, User4455

My apologies for the delay here, The ticket in question is certainly still open, and has been assigned a developer, but as we could not reproduce it and did not see additional reports, it has been put on the backburner. I will bump the ticket so that it gets more attention here and we can do more testing.

As for specific memory for each input method, I am unsure if we can distinguish between mouse/finger/stylus in all cases, so I am unsure if this will be doable, but I will pass along the suggestion for you.

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Wed Jun 17, 2020 11:03 pm

Hi again!

The Dev team have just come back to me regarding both the ticket and your request. For the ticket, we have been unable to reproduce it so far, but our UI lead will be personally testing this starting today and we hope to have at least some details to offer you by the end of this week or early next week.

AS for the request to keep all three input methods separate, it would theoretically be possible, with some caveats. Obviously only advanced styluses would work for stylus detection, a cheap stylus you can buy from a dollar store very likely does not have the software or hardware to distinguish itself from a normal finger touch. And as this mode could cause some confusion, if we do offer this it would be an option that can be enabled optionally, the default handling would stay as is. I also cannot promise that it will be implemented at this time.

For the moment, we will not be making a feature request for this, and our priority is in resolving the bug you have reported first.

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:26 am

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for your responses.
I investigated this a little more an have reproduced the behaviour as described in my post of Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:32 pm in two ways, namely:

a) I have reproduced this through a remote desktop connected to a different machine (i.e. the pen and surface device are the ones as before, but the Editor was running on a different machine, to which I established a RDP-connection)

b) A colleage of mine has reproduced this on a "surface book 2" (don't know the exakt pen generation)

As regards your reference to my "request", please note that my ideas were basically just the result of a "brain-storming" on how this issue might be fixed. I am sure that your develepors will better assess the possibities and limits of potential solutions.

I really just want to make sure that you can understand and repoduce the problem, in order to enable you to find a solution.

Finally, with respect to your reference of the "dollar store styluses": I agree. These cheap styluses just immitate a finger. As regards advanced styluses, there are several technologies out there. I would asume, that "Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP) (formerly N-trig)", "Wacom AES 1.0 and 2.0" and "Wacom EMR" are most relevant here. There is also "Apple Pencil Active Projected Capacitive (APC)", but this seems to be only relevant to apple products.

And irrespective of these different protocols, I would assume that Windows 10 has some sort of stylus input handler. So I believe there can be a solution for all advanced styluses (maybe with a differentiation "with/without Eraser). From what I have seen so far, the issue may just lie in the behaviour with respect to the "last selected tool" as opposed to actual issues in detecting the input of different pen types.

Thanks and Regards!

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:52 pm

Hi, User4455

Terribly sorry for the delay in getting back to you, It seems that the Dev's jumped right into the thick of fixing this when the reproduced it and forgot to get back to me (admittedly I also forgot to check up on them though...)
They have just informed me that they are working through it currently, and hopefully we should be able to offer this in the next version 8 build release.
[edit: The Dev team just confirmed that we are hoping to offer this release sometime in July if all goes according to plan]

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:45 am

Thank you Daniel and Dev-Team!
Feel free to let me know if I can be of further assistance in this matter!

Cheers

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by Vasyl-Tracker Dev Team » Fri Jul 03, 2020 1:59 am

Hi User4455.

We just made some improvements and fixes for this option:
image.png

Please test this portable pre-release version of our PDFEditor:

http://www.docu-track.co.uk/tmp/PDFXEdi ... Eraser.zip
(just unpack it and launch the .exe file, without any installation)

and please let us known about any issues you notice..

Many thanks for your help.

Best Regards,
Vasyl.
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:14 am

Dear Vasyl,
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to test this.

However, I am sorry to report: The automatic switching to pencil does not work at all in this version.

The option "Switch to pencil tool with digitizer" is checked (i also tried unchecking, checking and applying it several times. I aslo tried to import my settings from the installed version.) All the same result: No automatic switching at all.

Also, I double checked and downloaded the current portable version from the website. It works as my installed one (after having selected said option), i.e. switches to pencil.

Thus, I also was not able to test this regarding the problems discussed in this thread.

Regards

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by Vasyl-Tracker Dev Team » Fri Jul 03, 2020 11:17 pm

Hi User4455.

Thanks for testing it.
I can reproduce such 'wrong' behavior only when the currently active tool has enabled the 'Exclusive Mode' option.
Can you check it please? If you have enabled this option for the active tool (Hand tool for example) - please turn off it and try again..

Best Regards,
Vasyl.
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Sun Jul 05, 2020 7:57 am

Dear Vasyl,
I have tried switching off exclusive mode for hand-tool and/or pen-tool. It still behaves the same way, i.e. according to my post of Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:32 pm.

I also double checked one more thing: The surface pen has a right-click button, which I use for changing the ink color. One other possibiliy is, to press the pen-tip onto the pen-icon for some time, and then its a right-click. However, both behave the same way.

But just one more time (for the "change ink-color" issue):
We start from hand-tool selected.
We change the ink-color of the pen, i.e. with right-click button of the pen or by long pressing.
We draw a line with the pen. (up to now everything is well)
We touch the screen with one finger and slide it over the screen with the intention to move the page within the window (and it does not move the page but draws a line in the previously selected color)

And there is also the Eraser problem.

May I ask, if you are testing with a surface device?

Regards

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by Vasyl-Tracker Dev Team » Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:03 pm

Hi User4455.

Ok, we understood where is the problem exactly. Thanks for the clarification.
Will try to fix it soon.
May I ask, if you are testing with a surface device?
Sure - we tested it on MS Surface Pro, HP Envy 360, Dell Inspiron Notebook, Wacom Tablet etc.
All works fine excepting case with changing the ink-color...

Cheers.
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by Vasyl-Tracker Dev Team » Thu Jul 09, 2020 11:42 pm

Hi User4455.

Please try this new portable pre-release version of our PDF-Editor:

http://www.docu-track.co.uk/tmp/PDFXEdi ... Eraser.zip

Also look to the Prefs/Commenting - here we added two new options:
Allow draw with a Touch
Allow draw with a Mouse


For your case you may turn on the "AutoSwitch to Pencil" and disable the "Draw with Touch" like here:
image.png
Hope it will solve your problem..

Thanks in advance,
Vasyl.
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:02 am

This is like christmas and birthday at once :D
Thank you so much!!!


While testing this, I noticed one more interesting thing. The "ink-color-change-problem" was apparently only an issue in the "classic tool bar mode". In the ribbon-UI - which I never really used - you can select ink-color without right-click (e.g. by pen button or long pressing) but rather just by touching the color field with the pen tip. Afterwards (also in the old version) it automatically switches back to hand-tool. However, the Eraser-problem apparently is there in ribbon-ui, so the fix does not only apply to classic toolbar mode.

Anyway, thank you very much and I am looking forward to the next build!

Cheers

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:11 am

If it is ok for you, I will now wait for the next build, then test this in my productive system for a while and will then set this thread to "solved".
Cheers

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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen  SOLVED

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Fri Jul 10, 2020 4:36 pm

Hi, User4455

That is certainly okay, Thank you very much for doing this testing so far. You should see these changes in the next release.

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
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Re: Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by User4455 » Tue Aug 25, 2020 3:26 pm

Dear Daniel,

I still owe you a check mark.

I have been using the new option (i.e. "Allow Draw with a Finger Touch" unchecked) for a while now. It is really helpful and has worked reliably so far.

Thanks to you and the Dev-Team!

Keep up the good work!

Cheers

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TrackerSupp-Daniel
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Issues with pen input; microsoft surface book and surface pen

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Tue Aug 25, 2020 6:35 pm

:)
Daniel McIntyre
Support Technician
Tracker Software Products (Canada) LTD

Support: <Support@tracker-software.com>
Sales: +1 (250) 324-1621
Fax: +1 (250) 324-1623

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