Signwriting keyboard Kickstarter project idea

Jonathan Duncan duncanjonathan at YAHOO.CA
Tue Oct 7 15:58:24 UTC 2014

Hi List,
	I have seen that over the years the request for a keyboarding feature like SignWriter DOS has been asked for over and over and over ...  And we still don't have it.  Back in 2010 Val suggested that I implement it in SignWriter Studio.  At that time I was unable as I was getting the program up and running.  So know I want to implement the keyboarding feature but I am thinking that it would be most useful for all of you if I did it for the web then ported it back to run in SignWriter Studio at a latter date.

My idea is this create a Kickstarter project to raise the funds to make the program. It will be web page (SPA single page application) that can easily be included into other web sites.  It will be open source so that other programmers can modify it and add more features if they like.  Once I get it made then I want to incorporate it into Personal Puddle so that it will be very easy for Steve Slevinsky to add to SignPuddle online. (I am hoping he will be open to the idea).  Think of it as an alternative to the SignText Editor in SignPuddle.

_These are the features I am thinking of implementing._

  * Keyboard selection resembling as much as possible SignWriter Dos but
    adjusted to ISWA2010
  * Seeing the full keyboard at all times something like this
  * Symbol selection keyboard. (Sign Mode)
  * Fingerspelling keyboard. (Fingerspelling Mode)
  * Setup and customize fingerspelling layout.
  * Setup and customize keyboard in use layout. (not everybody types
    with a USA keyboard)

_These are the features that we need to discuss_

  * Typing text into the sign (Alphabet Mode) See below
  * Horizontal Sign writting (How many of you feel that it wouldn't be
    worth it without this?)

__These are the features that are not going to be part of this version of the project_

  * Write when disconneted from the Internet
  * Use of mouse to click on keyboard or move symbols around.
  * Printing
  * Use of special fonts

For this to work I will need you help with letting a lot of people about our Kickstart project that that they may donate if they wish.  If you want make some YouTube videos or other SignWriting related letters or information that you think could help people see the importance of supporting this project then please send them to me and I will add them to our Kickstarter project page.

For those of you who are wondering how Kickstarter works from the site itself

A*project*is a finite work with a clear goal that you'd like to bring to 
life. Think albums, books, or films.

The *funding goal* is the amount of money that a creator needs to 
complete their project.

Funding on Kickstarter is *all-or-nothing*. No one will be charged for a 
pledge towards a project unless it reaches its funding goal. This way, 
creators always have the budget they scoped out before moving forward.

A*creator*is the person or team behind the project idea; working to 
bring it to life.

*Backers*are folks who*pledge*money to join creators in bringing 
projects to life.

*Rewards*are a creator's chance to share a piece of their project with 
their backer community. Typically, these are one-of-a-kind experiences, 
limited editions, or copies of the creative work being produced.

We also have to think of what kind of rewards people in the Deaf community, people who use SignWriting and people unaquainted with sign language would appreciate most.

My take on
*Typing text into the sign (Alphabet Mode)*
I know this is one of the VERY big reasons people want the Keyboarding.  I could implement it but I don't believe that SignPuddle has a way of representing text on top of the SignWriting.  So you wouldn't really be able to use it until someone writes a SignWriting web site that supports text with the SignWriting.
How important is it that text can be placed anywhere as opposed to let say only below?  How do we keep it from becoming messy switching between vertical and horizontal layout?

Look forward to all of your questions and comments.

Jonathan Duncan

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
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email: duncanjonathan at <mailto:duncanjonathan at>
joyoduncan at <mailto:joyoduncan at>
Cel Honduras: (504)3141-1171
Tel USA: (347)875-8442
Skype: yojoduncan

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