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TouchDraw early impressions

May 10, 2015 — BarryK
TouchDraw for Android is a vector drawing app. I purchased version 1.10.11, it cost me $10.99 from the Google Play Store. This is a mini-review, after just a few days usage.

This snapshot is on a tablet screen:


Saving
Using it for the first time, I chose to create a new drawing, but when I saved, there was no option to give it a name, nor where to save it. It just got saved as "Untitled Drawing.t2d" in a default location, /storage/sdcard0/Android/data/com.elevenworks.touchdraw/files/Documents/.

I found that the file can be renamed afterward, but could not see anywhere to move it into a folder. It seems that I have to create the folder first, then choose to create a new drawing ...ah, this works, but still gets saved as "Untitled Drawing" and have to rename it afterward.
...another ah, I found that I can create a folder, then drag the file into it.

Still seems a bit awkward. OK, I get the beforehand folder creation, but would like to be able to name the file up-front.

In Android Setup, I have "Default Write Disk" set as the "SD card", that is, sdcard1, my plugged-in 64GB card. Note, Root Explorer reports my SD-card as "sdcard1" and the internal phone memory as "sdcard0".
Despite this, TouchDraw has defaulted to saving in the internal memory, and that can't be changed. That's a negative.

When I want to open a drawing, it is good to see that TouchDraw recognizes the existence of Root Explorer, and offers that to find the drawing to open.

However, there is still the problem of being unable to save to my SD card in the first place. I think it would have been best if TouchDraw had recognised the Setup option to set default write disk, but at least the Preferences in TouchDraw should have an option to move and/or set the default save path.

I do understand the problems with saving to SD card with KitKat, though in my case it is rooted so no problem. But even when not rooted, KitKat does allow saving to the SD card in prescribed folders, and Lollipop eases that situation further.

Pen mode
TouchDraw works with my Logitech T630 mouse. very nice, but there are things that I would like to do with the mouse, that I can't.

The Preferences has the option of "Pen mode", which looks great if you have a Samsung Note with S-pen. But, a mouse is not recognised. it would be nice if there could be a "Mouse mode", maybe to work like Pen mode, and recognise some more mouse functions, such as up-down and left-right scrolling, middle-button-click.

The proposed Mouse mode could also have the option of locking out most finger operations, just like Pen mode. Though, as with Pen mode, finger pinching has to be retained.

That's another thing, I would prefer zoom factor to be in the menu, as well as having finger pinch. When using a mouse, it is nice if everything can be done by the mouse.

Import/export
The documentation states that TouchDraw is able to open and save to SVG format.

Having said that, I run into problems immediately. I just want to export the file as SVG, however, it seems I can't -- I can only "share" it as SVG (to gmail, etc). Or I can "Save to Gallery", but only as PNG or JPEG.
Huh, why can't I export to SVG locally? Or for that matter, export any format wherever I want locally? Exporting PNG and JPEG to the Gallery only is extremely restrictive.

I solved the problem of not being able to export to the SD card, by installing Send to SD card, as reported in a comment posted here:
http://bkhome.org/news/201505/how-to-root-your-android-phone.html

This is a generic solution. Any app that can share a file can use this to save it to the SD card.

Good, now back onto SVG specifically. In TouchDraw, I created a very simple drawing, just one rectangle, filled with red. I exported it to the SD card, and checked it, looked at the text in the file, yep OK, that's definitely an SVG file. Then, in Root Explorer, I clicked on the SVG file, expecting it to open in TouchDraw.

Well, TouchDraw attempted to, but gave an error:
Import Drawing Error
You did not pick a file type that TouchDraw knows how to import.


Huh? TouchDraw is supposed to be able to import SVG!!!

Conclusions
On a Linux system I use InkscapeLite to do simple things, such as create a composition of one or more imported bitmap images, with overlays such as text, and exporting the result as a bitmap file.
This sort of thing I can do with ease in TouchDraw.

So yeah, it has what I want, and basically, I am pleased with it. However, as pointed out in this mini-review, I have identified room for improvement.

Mouse support (lack thereof), and extreme inflexibility of local saving, are two of them -- I have read user feedback, and it is good to read that the developer is responsive to user reports -- so I will submit my suggestions!

I do though, find myself wishing that Softmaker had developed a drawing module for their Office HD suite! -- that is a beautiful user interface, proof that a traditional UI works exceptionally well in a phone/tablet with S-pen or mouse.

For example, Textmaker has the traditional "File" menu, with "New...", "Open...", "Close", "Save", "Save as...", "Save all", "Properties...", "File manager...", "Send...", "Print...", "Export...", etc, so logical, simple, and all choices provided for maximum productivity.

Itemising some of my wish-list for the developer:
1. Respect the Android Settings > Storage > DEFAULT WRITE DISK > SD card. Or, at least have the option to change saving to the SD card in Preferences.
2. Recognise first-time save and offer to enter a filename.
3. Add "Mouse mode" in Preferences.
4. Fix importing SVG.

Links
This is the Google Play Store:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.elevenworks.touchdraw
Developer's home:
http://elevenworks.com/

Comments

I sent an email to Jon, the developer of TouchDraw, informing of my mini-review, and received this reply:

Hi Barry,

First, thanks for all of the great feedback in your blog post. I'll try to address it all in this email; however if I miss something, feel free to write back:

1. Giving the drawing a name when you create it. That's simple enough to, and I'll add that to my to-do list. I think you're the first user to ever comment about this. Probably what I'll do is an option for users to opt-in to asking for a drawing name when creating a drawing.

2. You've identified the reason that TouchDraw doesn't support saving to the SD card: KitKat. I can look into adding support for this; however I don't have any rooted devices at this time. My - perhaps incorrect - assumption is that the majority of devices that people have are not-rooted, so I've always constrained myself to only support what would work on stock devices.

3. Mouse mode. Good idea. As far as I know, you're the first customer - that's ever contacted me at least - that's ever used TouchDraw with a mouse. I've never even connected a mouse to any of my Android devices, so I'm glad - and a bit surprised - that it works so smoothly. This should be pretty simple to add support for this; however you never know for sure when dealing with Android.

4. Zoom Factor in the Menu: Another good idea, and something that I've had on my to-do list for a while now. I've held off on implementing this until I can go back in and write my own Action Bar / Toolbar implementation to replace the very limited stock Android control that I use right now. This will get implemented; however realistically it'll probably be sometime in July/August.

5. SVG export. You've found the solution I always recommend, and is actually mentioned somewhere in the documentation: "Send to SD Card". I've tried to avoid having to implement a full file manager in TouchDraw simply to support exporting to anywhere on the file system. Personally, I feel Android should supply this functionality to all apps.


Jon's reply continued next post...
6. SVG import. The problem is probably because of how Root Explorer - an app that I've never used before - "sends" the app to TouchDraw to be opened. There are 5 different ways - that I'm currently aware of - that another app can ask TouchDraw to open a drawing. In many of the ways, the extension of the file to be opened get's lost and TouchDraw doesn't immediately doesn't have a way to figure out the file format. I'll install Root Explorer on one of my devices, and I'll figure out what it's doing. Once I know that, I'll probably have to support - yet another - way to open a file. At this point, I have all kinds of conditional logic in TouchDraw because every file manager does things slightly differently, as do all of the different cloud storage apps. sigh

In the meantime, I'm guessing that you could import the SVG from within TouchDraw as opposed to sending to SVG to TouchDraw import. - Pull vs push -

7. Your comments on how Office HD works... TouchDraw 2.0, which I'm just now starting to develop and I hope to release later this year, will have a completely redesigned user interface based on what I've learned after from using and developing mobile apps for 5 years. Specifically, I'll have a traditional file menu in TouchDraw 2.0, as I've learned that for productivity apps you need to break away from the UI guidelines from the vendors - Apple and Google - to make them efficient. In TouchDraw 1.0, I tried to follow the guidelines and use the default controls wherever possible.


Hi Barry,

Just wanted to som real-time followup. I've already added support for "Mouse Mode". It'll be included in the next update. Instead of being "Pen Mode", the setting will now be called "Pen/Mouse Mode".


3rd email:

I just published a new version of TouchDraw to the Google Play store that should be available for download within the next few hours depending on how fast Google propagates the update worldwide. It addresses the following things for you:

1. As mentioned in my previous follow-up email, "Pen Mode" is now "Pen/Mouse Mode" and should work with your mouse just fine.

2. I added an option that you can enable in the global settings to have it prompt you for the name of a newly created drawing.

3. It fixes the issue that prevented SVG's from importing when they are sent from Root Explorer. As I thought, Root Explorer was doing something that I hadn't seen from any other apps before.

The other items aren't things I can address as quickly, but they are on my to-do list.

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