SHARK is now ShapeWriter


The excellent text entry program for touch screen and Tablet PC devices by IBM that was previously known as SHARK is now called ShapeWriter.  I am not sure why IBM decided to change the name but it certainly sounds more commercial, doesn’t it?  ShapeWriter is the technology that allows text input by sliding a stylus over a customizable keyboard.  The program then determines the correct word by the shape of the stylus path over the keyboard.  I wrote a detailed review of ShapeWriter last year.




Do you know if IBM are working on or have a version that can work on PDA’s and smart-phones?


I had to move the shark.exe file into the same directory as the DLLs that came with the download and then it worked fine. That version number sounds right to me.

Mike Wilkerson

Hmm… Well, I just did an update on the JRE. Verified that I’m running 1.5 with the latest updates.

Tried re-running Shark to no avail–same problem.

But you mentioned uninstalling/re-installing in your comment. And then I went back to your review from a while back and you mentioned something about IBM’s “installer”. So I’m confused a bit because I didn’t get an installer. All I got was a .zip download. And when I unzipped it, there’s an exe called shorthand_keyboarding.exe which is placed in a higher level directory, and then a couple subdirs down, there’s a dir called “shark”. All I did was unzip the .zip and tried to launch the exe. It complains that it can’t find a .jar. Obviously, it’s looking for a subdir path relative to the .exe. So I manually moved the .exe two subdirs down so it would be able to find the .jar. Then I was able to launch the app–only to get the hanging/redraw failing behavior I mentioned.

All of this makes me feel like I’m in a parallel universe or something. I went and re-downloaded from IBM because I thought I must have downloaded the wrong package or something.

BTW, when it does launch, the title bar gives a version of 0.9b. Is that what you have?

I wish I had an “installer” that just works. Any chance you still have your installer/download that I could use?


Mike, I don’t have any further information from the ShapeWriter folks. The version on their web site has always worked for me so I am at a loss why it is not working for you but as you point out they haven’t updated it in a long time. Maybe uninstalling and reinstalling might help.

Mike Wilkerson

Are you still using and recommending ShapeWriter? I went and downloaded what seems to be the most current copy from

But it says it was last updated in October 2004, and the links to the video demo are dead. And when I install it on my tablet and launch it, about 80% of the time, it seems to hang, or at least it doesn’t draw the screen correctly–stays blank. All this leads me to believe that there’s been some bit rot here since 2004…

So what’s the current status? I just started using a tablet and am really wanting to get the text entry speed thing worked out. I’ve been using Fitaly for a couple of years on my PDA, and I’m very comfortable with that, but I’m interested in trying some alternatives for the tablet.

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