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Issue 3.4



Issue: 3.4 (March/April 2005)
Author: Toby Rush
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,953
Starting Page Number: 8
Article Number: 3403
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DeskDoodle gives you the capability to draw on your screen... not in a document window, but to the screen directly. Your canvas can be thought of as a piece of perfectly transparent plastic which lies atop whatever else is on the screen, but which can easily be sent behind the currently open windows.

The control interface of the program is an icon menu added to the right hand of your menu bar. The program provides three modes:

  • Edit mode, in which any use of the mouse button results in on-screen drawing. The only exception is clicking in the menu bar, which allows you to open the control menu and change your settings.

    Above mode, in which the mouse works normally but any drawing you have done remains superimposed on your screen.

    Below mode, which is just like Above mode except that open windows appear in front of your drawing.

The control menu also provides different tools with which to edit your drawing. The most basic (and intuitive) is the Pen tool; clicking and dragging with this tool allows you to draw as with a Paintbrush or Pencil tool in most graphics program. Pen width can be set, using the control menu, to five different sizes ranging from "Tiny" to "Huge." Color can also be set to one of six presets or any other color selected using the System's Color Picker.

Individual elements of your drawing can be removed using the Eraser Tool, or you can start fresh using the Clear command. Other tools include a Stamp tool, which prompts you for an image file to use as a "stamp"; and a Text tool which, when you click anywhere on the screen, brings up a dialog box (reminiscient of older versions of Adobe Photoshop) where you can specify which text you'd like to place at the indicated spot in your drawing. The program also allows you to save or print a picture of your doodle with or without your desktop in the background.

DeskDoodle is well-designed, and placing the commands in an unobstrusive menu is an excellent way to present the interface. Using the tool itself takes a little getting used to, since it is easy to forget the program is running and accidentally dot your screen when you are trying to open a file or program. Command shortcuts are available for almost everything in the DeskDoodle menu, but unfortunately they only work when the program is in the foreground. So it is easy to switch from Edit mode to Above mode, for example, by typing Shift-Command-A, but to then get back into Edit mode after opening a folder or checking your e-mail requires you to go back up to the DeskDoodle menu. (It should be noted that this is proper interface technique for any program, but some user-adjustable interaction with global function keys would be welcome.)

Aside from this small drawback, DeskDoodle is a perfectly functional, useful utility that can bring out the "manager-with-a-whiteboard" type in just about anyone.

End of article.