Wacom has just released its new Enhanced Tablet PC driver (also known as Feel IT) for penabled devices like the Surface Pro. The company last updated the driver (version 7.1.2-9) in October. That version had some calibration issues for existing hardware and was incompatible with the Asus Vivotab Note 8 released earlier this year.

The new driver, labeled 7.2.0-4 fixes the AVTN8 issue, and offers some significant additions: a new combined control panel for pen and touch sensors, a single level Radial Menu, an option in the control panel to remove the ripple effect for the pen and a couple of other enhanced features and stability improvements.

The Radial Menu is especially noteworthy as it can be customized with often-used commands and reduce the need for a keyboard with many graphics applications.

Unfortunately, calibration is still limited to four points, but in my tests on a Surface Pro, AVTN8 and Thinkpad Yoga, the calibration seems much more accurate and spots that were previously not accessible by pen (especially along the bottom of the screen where it was difficult to access the hidden taskbar) can now be reached easily.

This is especially good news for AVTN8 users who could not use their pens with software that required Wintab support because the old version inverted x, y values.

The driver's Control Panel item has been relabeled as Wacom Pen. It consists of two tabs, Pen and Radial Menu.

On the Pen tab, you can now configure a second pen button if you have it. There are new Tip Options: Click Sound, Hard Press to Double-Click, Hover Click and Show Ripple Effect. You can also oppen the system's Pen and Touch Control Panel directly from this tab. 

Besides keystroke combinations, Open/Run, Settings and Switch Application may be useful to tablet pc artists.

Besides keystroke combinations, Open/Run, Settings and Switch Application may be useful to tablet pc artists.

I'll show you mine if you show me yours. The radial menu is a new toy for me. Here's my first attempt at customization. Are these the same keystrokes you would map to your pen button? Did I miss something?

I'll show you mine if you show me yours. The radial menu is a new toy for me. Here's my first attempt at customization. Are these the same keystrokes you would map to your pen button? Did I miss something?

I'm excited to play with the new Radial Menu, a feature I've always envied Cintiq users. There are eight slots available, currently populated with six music functions (play/pause, previous track and next track, volume up, volume down and mute) and web browser and email launchers. I'm sure all of you will find much better uses for those eight buttons!

UPDATE 2 (4/22/14): Several of you have already pointed out that assigning the radial menu to a single pen button means you will be giving up a right click button. For the OS and most applications, this is easily remedied by tapping and holding the pen or finger to the item, which will call up the desired context menu. Although this method works with the pen on the Windows 8 Start screen, tapping and holding the stylus doesn't work with Modern apps. For those, you'll have to use your finger. If you'd like to map the right click onto your radial menu, you can use the keyboard shortcut {{Shift} {F10}} to call up the context menu on the currently selected item. Unfortunately, in my brief tests this doesn't seem to work reliably.

UPDATE (4/21/14): The driver is now available for download from the US link. According to the readme, "If you are upgrading from a previous Wacom driver version, uninstall that driver first for best results. Restart the system prior to installing the new driver."

Visit http://us.wacom.com/en/feeldriver/ in the U.S. and http://www.wacom.eu/index4.asp?pid=9281 in Europe.


Posted
AuthorRick Rodriguez
Categoriesnews
33 CommentsPost a comment

Developers would do their users a huge favor by adopting Windows 8.x's UI scaling scheme. But given the wide variety of non-standard interfaces in graphics applications, that may never happen.

Fortunately, creative users can be counted on to find inventive workarounds to those limitations.

Given Autodesk's decision to prematurely retire Softimage, I've been forced to look more closely at 3d applications to replace it. The feeling in the cg community is that venerable 3DS Max is also on the endangered list, so that leaves Maya as the only Autodesk option (fortunately, there are other vendors and other products to consider such as The Foundry's Modo).

The problem with running Maya on the Surface Pro or any screen under 17-inches is that its default UI is extremely cluttered. The top of the standard interface includes six rows of menus, icons, and shelves.

The problem with running Maya on the Surface Pro or any screen under 17-inches is that its default UI is extremely cluttered. The top of the standard interface includes six rows of menus, icons, and shelves.

Fortunately, you can close most UI elements and rely on the program's marking menus which are called up by holding down the spacebar. The downside is that fonts are still very small and difficult to read on a small screen.

Fortunately, you can close most UI elements and rely on the program's marking menus which are called up by holding down the spacebar. The downside is that fonts are still very small and difficult to read on a small screen.

As I was complaining about the issue on Twitter, follower planeteater (@plutoisawesome) came to my aid. He (or she?) pointed me to a cgsociety.org thread explaining how to scale the Maya 2011 interface.

Changing the interface's font sizes is a simple matter of editing the MayaStrings file in a text editor. Look for every item with "*Font_win" in its name and change the first number in the value. By default, most entries were 11 point Tahoma. I changed those to 14 points. There are also 9, 10 and 12 point entries. To keep everything proportional, I scaled each item by 125% and voila! the program is now much easier on the eyes on both the Surface Pro and Thinkpad Yoga.

The person who discovered the hack, Johnny Moore (johnnybob), even created a video (see below).

This video describes how to change the font size for Maya 2011 (32/64) inside the User Interface for Windows PC, but it can be applied to later versions. Tested here with Maya 2015.

Although the effect is subtle and difficult to appreciate in this screen capture, take my word that it is immensely more legible on a small screen. It's possible that the UI will withstand increasing the font sizes even further, but I've found that some requesters in other programs (including Autodesk's 2015 installer) start to look very bad when the UI is scaled to 150%.

With such an easy way to change the program's default font sizes, it's odd that the devs chose not to expose this functionality to users.

If you decide to give this a try (or find other ways to make your software easier to use on the Windows tablet of your choice), please let me know. I'm especially interested to hear from those who choose larger font sizes or different typefaces. I'd love to see what you come up with.

And, if you've come up with a way to hack any other application's interface, please let me know. I'd love to promote your efforts! 


Posted
AuthorRick Rodriguez
CategoriesTips
4 CommentsPost a comment
The Virtual Tablet app is available in both the Windows and Google Play app stores.

The Virtual Tablet app is available in both the Windows and Google Play app stores.

I'm often asked whether a Surface Pro or other Windows penabled device could do double duty as a virtual Wacom Intuos or Bamboo tablet . Although remote control of a desktop pc is possible from any tablet, including iPads, I hadn't found a setup that didn't lag or that properly passed along pen pressure until today.

Virtual Tablet from Sunnysidesoft is the first Windows or Android app I've come across that comes close to duplicating the functionality of a pen tablet over wifi.

In my tests with the Windows app running on the Asus Vivotab Note 8 and the Android version running on the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, I was able to draw effortlessly on my desktop copies of Manga Studio and Sketchbook Pro. Lag on those two apps was barely perceptible and pressure range is excellent.

I also tested Virtual Tablet with Photoshop, but pressure information is not communicated. According to the developers' website, "(This is) because Adobe applications use different device driver for supporting pressure sensitivity. We are developing a new driver for Photoshop right now. However, we can’t promise when it will be ready." Dreaded Wintab requirement strikes again! 

The reason Virtual Tablet performs so well may be that unlike other remote control options, it doesn't attempt to reproduce your target screen on your tablet. You'll only see a bounding box representing your target screen. You can pinch zoom in and out of the target area and lock it as well. UPDATE: These are Android-only options. The Windows version only allows full-screen or a default size that leaves a title bar. This is unfortunate because it's easier to reach icons on the sides and bottom of the screen when you reduce the size of the active window slightly.

As you hover around the tablet screen with your pen, your cursor will move on your desktop screen. The pen pointer was displayed as a small pixel on my display. I assume that's a Windows system setting, but I was unable to find the spot to change it. Because the pointer is so small on my 1920x1080 23-inch monitor, it was easy for me to lose sight of it at the top and bottom of the screen. It would be nice if the app offered some way to temporarily change the pointer while in control.

Besides providing even greater functionality for your mobile device, Virtual Tablet makes it possible to control software that would otherwise be incompatible. For example, The Foundry's Mari requires an NVIDIA or AMD graphics card with at least 1GB of RAM. But I was able to paint in the application from the Note Pro. The same should be true for Mudbox and any other app that is problematic on Intel HD graphics hardware. (I can't vouch for pressure sensitivity in Mari because I'm not familiar enough with it to test it properly.) UPDATE: I finally found a meaningful use for my AVTN8. It's a great input device for Mudbox on my desktop while Autodesk continues to grapple with Intel HD graphics compatibility.

To use Virtual Tablet with your desktop, you first need to download the free server application for either Windows or Mac (eraser tip functions are not yet supported in OS X).

Compatibility information from the developers website:

VirtualTablet requires devices with “pressure sensitive stylus pen with hover mode.". As far as we know this functionalities only available with Wacom Digitizer Stylus technology (Samsung Galaxy Note series, few ASUS tablets, and most of Windows Tablets are based on this pen).

Usually capacitive touch pens don’t support pressure sensitivity and hover mode, even though it seems like ‘stylus pen’. This capacitive touch pens are just same as using your finger. Therefore it is not supported by VirtualTablet.

Supported: Galaxy Note series, few ASUS tablets, Windows Tablet(MS Surface, Slate 7, ATIV, ASUS Eee Slate, etc.)

NOT supported: Galaxy Tab, ASUS tablet, Nexus Tablets (Nexus 7, 10), HP TouchPad and other usual tablets & phones.

Virtual Tablet is available as a free trial, but for only $1.99 for the Windows Store version and $1.86 for Android, it's an absolute no-brainer.

Virtual Tablet requires a free server application running on your Windows or Mac desktop.

Virtual Tablet requires a free server application running on your Windows or Mac desktop.