LiveScribe, 6 months on

Well I got a new laptop recently and finally got around to installing the LiveScribe pulse pen software on it.  I had not been to the LiveScribe developer forums for 6 months or so, so I thought I would check out to see if anything much had changed.

  • “Platform SDK 1.0 is out” – that is good.
  • “Application store is going to be available soon” – no change there.  Still talking about 2009 release though.  Before Christmas I wonder?  Probably too late for any serious Christmas flood of sales – no desktop API available for developers to write real applications in time I suspect.
  • Flash movie export being considered” – so still not available.  Since they have had it on their web site for so long, I must admit I don’t understand why this has taken so long.
  • “Desktop SDK” – due Q4 2009.  There is at least some information around on how its going to work.
    • Strokes can be captured via an archive file in the AFD (Anoto Functionality Document) format, accessible via the Desktop API.  No idea what this format is.
    • Application data created by penlet can be retrieved by the Desktop API.  This is very important.
    • There is some other strangely worded text suggesting you can write your own desktop application (in Java) and access the pen directly.  (Previously I only heard of a C++ API – Java is much better since you need to know Java to write penlets, and Java means you can write code and it will run on both Windows and Mac.)  If I parse it correctly, I think its saying the desktop API will be accessible from Java and talks to the pen directly.  It will be independent of the LiveScribe desktop.  I assume the desktop and other applications will call the same “Desktop API” to talk to the pen itself.  Does raise some interesting questions on what happens when the desktop and other applications are running at same time.
  • There are guidelines now around as to what needs to be approved and what does not. Seems to be centered on Anoto and what they will permit. It looks like you can apply for approval before writing the code. Better than the Apple iPhone model where you can write and submit an app, only to have it rejected later.  (See the LiveScribe “Developer Guidelines” from the LiveScribe platform SDK for details.)

Well, as they say, Christmas is coming.  We will see what comes out over the next few weeks or whether things slip into next year.  But it really feels like I have not missed anything much over the last 6 months of absence.

I personally don’t think many interesting applications will exist until the desktop SDK is available.  Once it is available, it will be interesting to see what functionality the API provides and whether its enough to be useful.  For example, do you just get strokes, or is there any hand writing recognition functionality available.  How hard is it to get access to the audio files and sync it with the handwriting text? etc.

I wonder if MyScript are going to make an API available to their LiveScribe add-on at the same time?  It might encourage more MyScript sales. Developers may decide to leverage their additional value, just telling customers to buy a copy of MyScript direct.  I certainly would consider it.  Small developers don’t want to have to worry about all the licensing etc hassles of incorporating third party stuff in if they can avoid it.

For me, I guess I will come back in a month or two and see if the store and desktop SDK make it out Q4 2009 or not.  (I do recall reading in the forums the Desktop SDK will be available after the store is available – which feels backwards to me…)

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