Digital Ink Standard Enhances Device Integration

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InkML Allows Developers to Store, Exchange User Gesture Data

Testimonials — 20 September 2011 — W3C announced today a new standard for the exchange of "digital ink" on the Web. The Ink Markup Language (InkML) Recommendation can be used to store and exchange the output of an electronic pen or stylus as well as handwriting, gestures, sketches, music, and other notations.

"Pen input is a very natural way to use a device, whether for controlling the device, inputting information or communicating with other people," said Debbie Dahl, Chair of the Multimodal Interaction Working Group. "It's an especially compelling input mode for the variety of touchscreen-based devices that are currently entering the marketplace. But until now, pen input formats were largely proprietary, and so interoperability across devices and applications was limited. InkML changes this. It will be exciting to see how InkML enables new, interoperable and innovative applications based on handwriting, drawing, and symbols."

InkML is part of W3C's ongoing efforts to build One Web available from any device. A host of new applications are now possible thanks to this open standard, such as: pen-based text messaging; handwritten annotation of documents, photos, or other media; collaborative white boards; archiving of hand-written notes; and more efficient approaches to filling out forms.

Furthermore, when used in combination, pen and voice (and other input methods) can improve usability. For example, with combined pen and speech input, users can ask questions like "show me restaurants in this area" while drawing a circle on a map.

About the World Wide Web Consortium

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 325 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see

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Testimonials for: Digital Ink Standard Enhances Device Integration

Microsoft · Openstream · Waterloo Maple


Microsoft is pleased to be part of the W3C Multimodal Interaction Working Group and we are excited about the Ink Markup Language (InkML) specification becoming a W3C Recommendation.

Microsoft is committed to incorporating support for natural input into its products. Input methods such as ink handwriting and diagrams expand the types of content that can be created and stored in digital form. The usefulness of such information relies on the ability to create accurate interpretations of the data and the ability to persist these interpretations in an openly accessible format. As a member of the W3C Multimodal Interaction working group, Microsoft supports the InkML 1.0 Recommendation as an effective approach to representing interpretations of natural input.

The InkML standard provides a rich language for expressing the archiving or streaming of digital ink content. A key concern for Microsoft as the company moves to support open file and data exchange formats is that the standards which are ultimately adopted allow for the accurate representation of existing data, typically represented in proprietary binary formats. The InkML standard, along with the related EMMA standard, provides the desired compatibility with existing Microsoft formats. As such, Microsoft believes that the adoption of these specifications will make natural input data available to a broader range of clients, ultimately making such data more useful and valuable.

Tom Underhill, Microsoft Office Development Lead and Co-Editor of the W3C InkML specification


In its ongoing commitment to open and interoperable standards as a W3C Member, Openstream is very pleased to be able to contribute to the development and inter-operability testing of InkML 1.0. InkML annotations of images is already available through Openstream's Cue-me(tm) Context-aware Multimodal Platform allowing for creation of rich annotations for inputs of different modalities within a Multimodal Application using Open Data Format in a platform-independent way.

Raj Tumuluri, President and Chief Executive Officer, Openstream

Waterloo Maple

InkML opens the way for 2-dimensional input to be shared between different applications on a variety of platforms. This qualitatively changes the ease of use for several areas, including mathematics.

Stephen M. Watt, Maplesoft, a division of Waterloo Maple

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