Wacom Tablets

The goal of this panel is to view and change basic settings for Wacom type tablets.

Relevant Art


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There are tasks that are specifically difficult to achieve with a tablet

  • Double click -- executing a double click with a stylus can be difficult as you need to tap within the same area without moving the cursour outside the threshold area.


Use Cases

Table configuration usually happens once.

  • Mode of Operation -- small tablets are commonly also used in mouse/relative mode (as opposed to tablet/absolute). This allows to control the pointer with a bigger precision than the tablet area would have if it was mapped to the whole screen.

  • Mapping -- For multimonitor setups, pick the screen/screens to map the tablet area to.

  • Stylus -- Define pressure "feel" (How physical pressure on the stylus gets translated to digital values). Button functions on the stylus.

  • Calibration -- screen tablets may require calibration depending on the angle of operation. FIXME: non-screen tablets need 1:1 map vs keep aspect ratio.

  • Left Hand Flip -- some tablets have hardware buttons on a side, allowing to rotate the device by 180 degrees for left handed people. This means the buttons and the area mapping needs to be flipped to accomodate a left-handed layout.

  • Buttons or Pads -- Assign a function to a hardware button or touchpad/strip. Will need an API for apps to expose their functions. Some 3rd party apps might rely on a crappy 'send keyboard shortcut' function :(

Button Mapping

- The input isn't limited to a wacom device. People may have USB wheels, MIDI pads and all sorts of custom devices sitting next/glued to the device. - Most common functions: none*, pan, brush size, brush opacity, darkness, lightness, color picker.

* people actually tape buttons so they don't accidentaly push them.

Non Cases

  • Multitouch devices

  • Rotation -- tablet PCs & screen tablets (Cintiq) should rotate the tablet along with the screen. Non screen tablets should remain detached from the screen. No configuration necessary.

Generally try to do a decent job guessing and do not expose corner cases in the UI:

  • If you have a screen tablet, do not even allow to map to a different screen. If people want this obscure thing, they can do it using xsetwacom on the commandline/script.
  • Do not notify to calibrate if no calibration ever happened. Just go with device defaults. If things are off, people will calibrate. Do not bother with notifications/force people to calibrate when things are likely to be ok.
  • Do not notify/force people to remap when monitors are detached. The most likely scenario is 2 screen. Just map to the remaining screen. For the corner case of more than 2, map to the primary screen (the one with top bar). If the target was a merged display area the screen was part of, just shrink it.



  • David:A visual setup for tablets is long due in Gnome. I overall agree on your mockup but disagree on a few points:

    1. You say buttons on pad should be set on an application level. I strongly disagree here. I do like to have a system wide setup where I assign modifiers, like crtl and shift, as well as well as universal shortcuts as ctrl+s, to the tablet buttons which I then can choose to override on an application basis. Setting this up over and over for applications is tedious work and only a handful of them do have settings for tablet buttons.

      1.1 Peter: agree with system-wide settings, disagree with "mapping a button to ctrl+s". You don't want to map the button to "ctrl+s", you want to map the button to "Save", right? This is what applications really need to support

    2. Mapping. A wish for some way to easily switch mapped monitor while working. Being forced to use pen on only one monitor is very limiting.
    3. As you can have several pens setup differently on some wacom-tablets there should be options to setup multiple pens.

      4.1. Jakub: What is the use case here? I thought this would be in the app realm as my understanding was that it's basically for having a more physical tool - each pen assigned to a specific tool (airbrush/pen/pencil) with specific brush settings.

  • Peter:
    1. What should happen if there is no tablet connected?
      • 1.1 We should never expose hardware that isn't detected. The panel should not be shown in the system settings by default (currently not the case in 3.2). The panel should come up if you explicitly search for it, but will only show a message it hasn't been detected if you open it.
    2. Not all styli have 2 buttons - what to do then?
      • 2.1 In future we should strive to provide some generic groups of HW and provide appropriate controls and preview graphics.

See Also

Design/SystemSettings/Tablet (last edited 2020-06-09 20:18:14 by JakubSteiner)