SignWriter DOS on Windows Vista 64-bit

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Wed Oct 13 21:07:37 UTC 2010

SignWriting List
October 13, 2010

Hello Jonathan and Steve -
Thanks for these messages. Richard Gleaves is the developer of the original SignWriter program, which was first developed for the Apple //e and //c in 1986, and was then transferred and developed further in MS-DOS. SignWriter DOS was our world standard program from the late 1980s until 1996, when Richard Gleaves stopped working with SignWriting, and started working for Qualcomm, here in San Diego, California. So Rich lives close to me here, and I will be seeing him in the next month, so we can always turn to Rich with questions if you need his input. I also have his Source Code, for SignWriter DOS here, which I will be happy to send to you privately. The last symbolset that we were using, at the time that Rich stopped developing SignWriter in 1996, was the symbolset called SSS-1995.

Then, in 1996, I hired a company that was using a new development language very modern and cutting edge, called Java. it was new then, and there was not automatic way to program printing from Java yet, but I hired a company to transfer the SignWriter DOS code over to Java, but it took longer and was a harder job than the company expected, and they stopped doing the development. So the end result was SignWriter Java, which cannot print, and it is only for one country at a time (SignWriter DOS can switch back and forth easily between countries) because SignWriter DOS is more complete, most people who want SignWriter are most likely still using SignWriter DOS using DOSBox, which is required in modern operating systems.

However, having said that, SignWriter Java still has the same typing system (keyboarding)...but it created new features that are NOT in SignWriter DOS...the biggest difference between SignWriter DOS and SignWriter Java is that the Java version allows some mouse work, where SignWriter DOS is solely keyboard - no mouse capability whatsoever.

To learn about how to type using SignWriter DOS, read the documents on this web page:

SignWriter 4.4 Instruction (how to type)
(I can send you the source code if you want it)

To download the sources for SignWriter Java, go to:

SignWriter Tiger uses the sss-1999 symbolset. To learn about Daniel Noelpp Ly's programming of SignWriter Tiger, and to download his source code, go to:

The end result of all these beautiful programs were that between 1996 until 2004 when we met Steve, we had many developers graciously offer to help, but because the jobs were so enormous and more complicated than people expected, SignWriter DOS never got re-written well enough to become a modern typing program...

The typing system that Rich Gleaves and I designed works beautifully, and Steve was kind enough to implement some of the Special Command Keys from our design in SignWriter DOS, into Command Buttons in SignPuddle, for example for Rotate, which used to be the Rotate Key in SignWriter DOS, and the Mirror or Flop Button, that is the MIrror Key in SignWriter I think users remember these details and recognize them from program to program...

If you would like to learn to type using SignWriter DOS, Jonathan, let's get together on Skype, and I can teach you one on one how to type quickly using SignWriter DOS. If you can implement the same typing system in SignWriter Studio, that would be a miracle and make your program the obvious choice for SignWriter DOS users, because you will have the best of both worlds - SignWriter Studio would become the alternative for SignWriter DOS users -

By the way, go to SymbolBank for downloading these different symbolsets from over the years...

Sutton's SymbolBank

Val ;-)


On Oct 13, 2010, at 11:16 AM, Jonathan y Yolaine wrote:

> Hi Steve,
>     Thank you for filling me on this information. 
>     Which of the two programs in your opinion has the most users?  SignWriter DOS or SignWriter Java?  Which created the most documents?  
>     So if I understand correctly SignWriter DOS still has SSS-95 symbols.and SignWriter Tiger has SSS-99.  
> Do you know what kind of format SignWriter Tiger is using?  Is it a binary file too?
> Do you know if there is source code for SignWriter DOS?  If it's available, it would be a lot easier to figure out how to read the binary file.  What language was that programmed in anyway? C? 
> So I guess if we were to read the SignWriter DOS files to convert to BSW or a XML format to be used with other programs, we would need to first figure out how to read the files and then write a conversion algorithm from S-95 to ISWA2010.  Going the other way would be counter productive because SSS-95 is a much more limited symbol set and a lot of symbols in ISWA 2010 do not have a corresponding symbol in SSS-95.
> Jonathan
> On 10/13/2010 11:08 AM, Steve Slevinski wrote:
>>  The SignWriter keyboarding style is great.  There is a steep learning curve that is worth the effort to learn.  There are multiple layers of fine tuning that went into the SignWriter keyboard design over the years.  Valerie and Richard Gleaves spent years improving the flow using a detailed symbol editor that controlled the default behaviors for centering and cursor controls.  Different symbols needed different information that had to be manually created. 
>> Unfortunately, SignWriter Dos uses dense binary files to store and retrieve information.  There was a tool released to convert SignWriter Dos SSS-95 binary files to SignWriter Java SSS-99 data files. 
>> I believe SignWriter skipped SSS-2002.  I think SW-Edit uses the SSS-2002. 
>> I started using the SSS-2004 symbol set, which became known as the IMWA. 
>> The conversion between the IMWA and the ISWA 2008 is about 99.99% accurate.  Some symbols are slightly off center. 
>> The conversion between the ISWA 2008 and the ISWA 2010 is flawless. 
>> Keyboarding should return.  Eventually, we'll need to create an advanced symbol editor for the ISWA 2010 so that we can capture and process specialized symbol information for keyboarding.  This will fine tune the keyboarding experience and improve a writer's speed and accuracy. 
>> Regards, 
>> -Steve 
> -- 
>                             _                       ____                                     
>  /\                        | |                     (|   \                                    
> |  |  __   _  _    __, _|_ | |     __,   _  _       |    |        _  _    __   __,   _  _   
> |  | /  \_/ |/ |  /  |  |  |/ \   /  |  / |/ |     _|    ||   |  / |/ |  /    /  |  / |/ |  
>  \_|/\__/   |  |_/\_/|_/|_/|   |_/\_/|_/  |  |_/  (/\___/  \_/|_/  |  |_/\___/\_/|_/  |  |_/ 
>   /|                                                                                         
>   \|                                                                                        
> email: duncanjonathan at
>          joyoduncan at
> Cel: 9784-9775
> Tel: 213-5285
> Skype: yojoduncan
> SignWriter Studio

More information about the Sw-l mailing list