AW: Signwriting keyboard Kickstarter project idea

Stefan Wöhrmann stefanwoehrmann at GOOGLEMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 8 14:43:43 UTC 2014

Hi Jonathan ,


I read your announcement with great interest. 


Hm – I have to admit that I do not understand the concept, the idea, the
advantage – perhaps you can explain that a little bit more? 



You show the picture of the SignWriter DOS keayboard. Ha – I  remember so
many situations that are connected with my long hours to learn and to
practice working with this program. So many emails und calls and questions
to get the printouts at that time. (Hi Valerie – thanks again for your kind
support in 1999 ) 

Today there are not so many experts who know about all the details and
advantages and the workflow... Well I am one of these... 


Now we do have SignPuddle – the online dictionary pool for single entries
for several countries. 


We can make new signs with Signmaker and use these signs within different
other Software – as we do with our delegs programm


I understand that your projekt is not easy to achieve and that it will  take
long hours of programming. In the end you will be able to design/create/make
a new entry but instead of using the mouse you can use the keyboard. Is that
what you want me to understand? The result will be the same. There is
another entry in the dictionary and now you can use some kind of translation
option of SignPuddle or delegs in order to create a new SignWriting document
written from top to down or from left to write (which is very important to
me if it comes to using these documents within the context of education.)


The DOS - keyboard design asks for pretty much experience if you want to
create new signs quickly. Compared to that it is much easier especially for
beginners to pick a given symbol from a visually presented collection of


The nice thing of the keyboard is that you can moove the individual signs
exactly up und down and sideways – which is often a problem if you are
dependend on the mouse. 


Well you see – I would love to understand the goal, the idea that this new
effort in creating a next generation of SW-Software is of advantage compared
to the time and costs you invest. 


Nevertheless I love to see all these different projects around this
wonderfull invention to be able to write and read SignLanguage which has not
been possible this way before Valerie shared her genious invention with the


All best











Von: SignWriting List: Read and Write Sign Languages
[mailto:SW-L at LISTSERV.VALENCIACOLLEGE.EDU] Im Auftrag von Jonathan Duncan
Gesendet: Dienstag, 7. Oktober 2014 17:58
Betreff: Signwriting keyboard Kickstarter project idea


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
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

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

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

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
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
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
>> 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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