General - hardware

No. To record handwriting data, Eye and Pen only require a graphic tablet. Moreover, using an eyetracking device allow to record eye mouvements data. Obviously, no device is required to analyse data.

Yes, with some conditions.
You may use BootCamp to install a true Windows on your MacIntosh, but you won’t be able to use the Mac and Windows environment at the same time.
To use both at the same time, you’ll have to use a Windows virtual machine like VMWare Fusion, Parallels Desktop or Virtual Box (free). Be aware that virtual machines may have some known trouble with devices (VMWare Fusion has problem with USB, for example), but workaround may be found on the Internet.
We cannot warranty that a vitualized environment will be efficient enough for data acquisition.

Eye and Pen supports each tablet supplied with the WIntab32.dll interface (WINTAB32 industrial norm; for details, please see the manual).
Next, it depends on what you want to do. The following table shows some prototypical situations.

 paradigm tablet size  writing advantages drawbacks
Writing on a paper  A4 (regular)
on a sheet of paper with an “InkPen” type pen – looks like a “natural” writing situation

– costless for simple production situations(without  eyetracker)

– the eyetracker calibration can become uneasy

– if the subject is to look at a screen, using an eyetracker becomes delicate to setup

 Writing on a paper with “menus” zones  A4+ (oversize)
 on a sheet of paper with an “InkPen” type pen – looks like a “natural” writing situation

– costless for simple production situations(without  eyetracker)

– the eyetracker calibration can become uneasy

– if the subject is to look at a screen, using an eyetracker becomes delicate to setup

Wiritng on a screen  17 to 22″


“plastic” pen  – calibrating an eyetracker is easy (on the screen wher the subject is to write)

– it is possible to change what the subject sees

– reading and writing on a single surface

– low sampling rate (100-133 Hz)
– expensive

Eye and Pen supports each tablet supplied with the WIntab32.dll interface (WINTAB32 industrial norm; for details, please see the manual).
Next, it depends on what you want to do. The following table shows some prototypical situations.

Sometimes when updating Adobe Flash Player, the updater software does not unload from memory, which prevent Eye and Pen from starting (don’t ask me why).
Re-starting the computer clears the problem.

WACOM tablet drivers prior to version 4.78.6 may cause problems if too many tablets are connected. De-install the current driver (in Windows, Configuration panel, Add/Remove programs), then install the latest version.

Wintab32.dll is an interface library that is needed for Eye and Pen to communicate with your tablet’s driver. Usually, this file is installed when you install the tablet’s software provided by its manufacturer. When in doubt, reinstall the driver.

Check if the pen you are using is compatible with the tablet. For example, Wacom Intuos2 pencils are not compatible with other tablets from the same manufacturer. Also check if the tablet’s driver is correctly installed and configured. Check if you have selected the tablet you actually want to use (File/Configuration/Acquisition/Tablet menu)

Either the EPManuel_EN.pdf file is not in the documents subdirectory of Eye and Pen, or you do not own the software required to read this document (for example Adobe Reader®)

The trouble was faced with Wacom tablets: after having plugged and unplugged different tablets models, you may not be able to select the good one in Eye and Pen.
The problem arouse because the Wacom configuration panel records every tablet preference, be it plugged or not. Then, one may have 2 or 3 tablet configurations declared to Eye and Pen although only one is plugged. Moreover, if the tablet is plugged as number 1, its configuration may be stored as number 2 or 3 in the preferences “memory”, without any mean to link both.
Solution: go to Windows Configuration panel / add/remove programs / Tablet, a “modify” button allows to delete the preference files. Then, you just have to setup your tablet in the Configuration panel / Tablet panel.

To use a file name including spaces in a command line, surround the file name with quotation marks. For example:EP.exe “my”

There is number of actions that can/should be done before recording with a tablet. The first is to disable Windows handwriting recognition, that will interfere with your experiment. Next, depending on your tablet’s control panel, some tuning can be made. Here are some examples.

Fine tune Wacom Intuos4 tablet

Using Wacom Intuos4 tablet in portrait / landscape


After setting up a computer for acquisition, always perform some tests, including data timestamps checking.  Even if you’re using devices that have been succesfuly used  elsewhere bfore, because driver installation can give surprises. For example, we faced severe trouble with sample timestamps with driver “WacomTablet_6.3.15-1”, whereas “WacomTablet_6.3.11-4a” works perfectly on the same computer. Never trust “what should be”, only “what is”.

Yes. Here is a quote from the Eyelink Programmer’s manual best explains what it is about: Minimizing Windows Delays

Just how serious is the problem, and what can you do to minimize it? Under Windows 95/98/Me, there was nothing you could do to prevent Windows from stealing time – usually the delays were relatively short (less than 5 milliseconds), and occurred only a few times a second. Under Windows NT, these delays were much longer and unpredictable. Under Windows 2000 and XP, however, some changes to the Windows kernel and the addition of new real-time priority levels have allowed near-realtime programming while allowing graphics and Ethernet to work – just right for EyeLink applications.
To minimize Windows delays:
• You should always ensure that no other time-critical programs, especially games, are running.
• Shut down all other applications (browser windows, chat clients, email programs, etc) prior to running an EyeLink experiment. These applications are listed in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen.
• Shut down any programs (Antivirus, volume controller, Windows Messenger, etc) running
in the notification area of the taskbar where you usually see the current time displayed (lower-right
corner of the screen).
• Make sure no scheduled tasks (e.g., data backup, virus checking) are active.
• Remove unnecessary devices (e.g., DV converter, flash disk, external hard drive) connected through
the USB or firewire ports.
• Shut down screen-saver management. Click the right mouse button at a blank space on the display
PC desktop to open a dialog box for display properties settings. On the “Screen Saver” tab, set the screen saver to “None”.
• Shut down power management. Select the “Screen Saver” tab of the “Display Properties” dialog
box and click on the “Power …” button. In the “Power Options Properties” dialog box, turn off all features related to power management (hibernation, advanced power management support, turning off monitors or hard drives).
• For a computer with multiple Ethernet cards installed, use theWindows Control Panel to temporarily disable all network connections except for the one dedicated for EyeLink connection. The user should disable the firewall for the EyeLink Ethernet connection as well.
Even with no other programs running, the Windows kernel will try to steal some time about once a second for maintenance tasks: this cannot be shut off under Windows 95/98/Me.
SR Research Ltd. (2006). EyeLink Programmer’s Guide (Version 3.0). Osgoode, Ontario, Canada: Author.

[ The following advices are intended for a computer dedicated to data recording ]

In general, to prepare Windows for an experiment:
• deactivate the anti-virus (eats processor time, memory and slow down accesses)
• deactivate network connections, unless strictly necessary (e.g. to communicate with an eyetracking device)
• deactivate each software using network connections(like MSN etc.), unless if usefulness is evident (e.g. to communicate with a measure equipment)
• deactivate all planed updates functions (system, anti-virus etc.) which can start-up while recording subjects
• deacitvate automatic screen savers, energy saving etc…)
• no more experiment under Windows 98

Applications running in the background (updates, anti-virus etc.) eats resources and may interfere with time measurements because they add more or less unpredictable delays to the computer response times. Optimize the computer configuration with MSCONFIG
Windows Vista adds a lot of novelties… and incompatibilities with real times measurements. More precisely:

By default, Windows Vista automatically defragments hard disks. The problem is that Windows Vista decide by himself when it is the most appropirate time to do this, whether the PC is turned on or not. Deactivate automated defragmentation.
Files and messages indexing eats resources. Deactivate files and messages indexation, save 20Mb of memory and get better performance under Windows Vista.
Aero interface brings a bunch of ergonomy and transparency, but it is also a very big resources consumer. Deactivate the Aero interface to save performance and resources under Windows Vista.
Deactivate Hibernate (or Hybrid Sleep Mode) option.
Windows Sidebar and Gadgets eats a lot of resources and the more you have gadgets, the more you use network passband because each gadget frequently accesses its referenced server on the net. Deactivate Windows Sidebar and Gadgets.
The User Account Control (UAC) is a new functionnality in Vista, designed to enforce the system security. But it can become a hassle because each action requiring privilege(install a software, acess to protected informations, directory etc.) will require a manual validation via a dialog box poping up. Deactivate the UAC.

For up-to-date advices and hints, search for “How to Optimize Windows” on the Internet. This video clip can be a good starting point: (link validated on may 14, 2020).

If your picture is to be displayed in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, it is simplicity itself, as the coordinates are 0 and 0.
However, I actually want to place the picture 10 cm away from the left edge of the window. My screen has a 1024×768 pixels resolution. I measure (with a ruler) the horizontal width of the display surface (the display area of the screen, not the plastic frame, etc.). On my 15″ LCD, this comes to 30.4 cm. As my horizontal resolution is 1024, 10 cm represents (1024 / 30.4) x 10 = 336.84, i.e. approx. 337 pixels.

Use video conversion software (encoding software) to convert your video into AVI with MS-RLE compression (you can find reliable software for free on the Web).

Try using audio encoder/decoder software to convert your file into wave file format (you can find reliable software for free on the Web).

The recording timer starts immediately (or is reset to zero) when the command OpenRec is activated or when recording commands driving the “simple” protocol (RecStandard, etc.) is executed. Therefore, each new data file starts at time zero.
To gain an overview of the session, check the session log file (.LOG) which contain the time when each event occurs. The session has its own timer, where “zero time” corresponds to the click on the “Go” button.

Given the version of your tablet’s driver interface (wintab32.dll), the driver may not be correctly released when stopping the acquisition. Try to get the latest version of your tablet’s driver (for example on the tablet manufacturer’s web site). Otherwise, the only efficient method is (unfortunately) to reboot the computer to re-initialize the tablet’s driver.

If there is no other Eye and Pen running and using the tablet, restarting Eye and Pen should solve the problem.
If it doesn’t succeed, destroy the file named “~EP.TMP” found in the “C:\Documents and Settings\Local Settings\Temp” folder (or c:\users\Local Settings\Temp).
Please note that the “Local Settings” folder is hidden (to show it, see in the Windows Explorer Tools / Folder options).

For reasons that are yours, you may want to to use a file that is not inside the default foder. There is a solution: the relative path.

Example : SetUnmaskFile(..cursorsMask_oval_asym_right170.bmp)
The image file is not located inside the stimuli folder, but inside the cursors folder. The relative path will be build from the “stimuli” default folder:
1. ” .. ” allows to go up one level in the folders tree structure, i.e. getting out of the “Stimuli” folder to stand into the “eyeandpen” folder.
2. ” cursors ” allows to go down into the “cursors” sub-folder.
3. ” ” allows to specify a file into the ” cursors ” subfolder.
Using a relative path from a default folder is possible anywhere a file must be loaded from a default folder.

No, you’re not.
Some tablet manufacturer (including Wacom) also sells true inking pen (“InkPen”) for their devices.
Thus, you may use a sheet of paper (or even a booklet made of many pages) on the tablet. Handwriting situation is then very “natural”, with a subject writing with a true pencil on a true sheet of paper, the tablet The tablet serves as a “place mat” the subject can set in any direction.


When starting a new word separation, you can adjust some values in the first panel, such as the horizontal margin. this is the minimum distance between two items. Below this distance, the two items are “joined”. So, lowering this value may help to separate digits in a number. Just clic on the Test button to see if it works. Coding and sequences options are displayed in the second panel.

You can manually assign the “-1” code to an item of data. That way, it will not be taken into account when editing, etc. This is a simple way of discarding “poor” or “unwanted” data.

Consult the history (Protocol/History menu) to find out if you have already built fixations, shifted layers, aggregated data, etc.

As you may have guessed, it is. This edition shows the state of concomitant events. Accordingly, if several fixations take place during a single pause, this pause will be mentioned several times, once for each fixation.

Yes, some treatments must be applied before others.
I advise to:
1- Shift layers (if required)
2- Build fixations
3- code -1 out-of-field eye data
4- Aggregate redundant codes (select Eye, set value to -1)

Fixations have to be calculated before eliminating out-of-field eye data. If not, the risk is to include out-of-field (or at field limit) aggregated eye data into true fixations, which would create an artefact.

A fixation represents a duration with no eye movement. Then, X_beg / Y_beg is the only valid reference for each fixation. X_end / Y_end represents the beginning of the next event (movement start).

For “pen up” pauses, the locations where the pen left the tablet and where it has been laid down again are known, but they may be different places.
Beginning and end of “up” pause have a not so straightforward meaning to attribute: it is advisable to think about what they mean before choosing one of them as a calculation reference.
“Down” pauses means that the pen doesn’t move, so the X/Y_Beg is a valid reference for calculations in this case.

To hide the watermark, just choose the same color as the background color. To show/hide the circle and the line around pauses, just select the same color as the background color.

Eye and Pen uses the local decimal separator of the system (Windows).
With a french Windows this will be a coma, with an english version of Windows, it should be a dot.
you can change you system’s decimal separator. Open Windows control panel, select “Clock, Language, and Region”.
Under “Region and Language”, select “Change the date, time, or number format”.
In the “Format” tab, click the “Additional settings” button. In the “Number” tab, change the value of the “Decimal separator” field.

When in doubt with procotol, first check data with the Protocol/Description menu. Then you may check Specifications, it will tell you what range for measures and which devices have been used for this recording. If something is obviously wrong, you may manually correct this (see this tutorial).