InqScribe and Stenographers

We were recently contacted by a stenographer who wanted to use InqScribe with a stenotype machine for video and audio transcription. In theory this should be easy, right? A stenotype is just another input device, like a foot pedal. But in practice, there are a few challenges. Here’s our current understanding of how InqScribe and stenotype machines can play well together. If you’re a stenographer and have thoughts on this, please let us know.

Can I type from my stenotype machine into InqScribe?

Yes. In most cases, you’re going to be using CAT software that converts stenotype chording into individual key events. (Basically, the CAT software pretends its a keyboard sending keystrokes to the computer.) This approach works well with a lot of applications, including Word, TextPad, and others. InqScribe should have no problem receiving text input in this way. (A point of comparison: we know that InqScribe works well with AutoHotKey and other utilities that send artificial key events.)

Can I trigger shortcuts and snippets in InqScribe via my stenotype machine?

Currently, we doubt this will work. That’s because the stenotype machine is not normally listed as an available input device. The way that InqScribe tracks shortcut triggers is by checking all known input devices (keyboards, foot pedals, gamepads, etc.) for known shortcut combinations.

With a stenotype machine that is interfaced via CAT, the machine doesn’t show up as an available device. The key events just magically appear. And since key events by themselves don’t serve as triggers for InqScribe, we recommend instead a workaround like using a foot pedal with the stenotype machine, where the foot pedal provides the triggers.

We’re looking into ways that we might support snippet insertion (or shortcut triggering) via normally text entry. There are a couple of ways to do this. MS Word has one model for its auto-complete tool, where common abbreviations and misspellings are corrected or expanded after you type them. Another approach relies on an explicit triggering keystroke which follows the snippet abbreviation, so you’d type something like “tc`” and the ` character is the trigger to look up the “tc” snippet and insert it into the transcript. Since our goal is to let you transcribe more efficiently, we want to play around with these approaches to see what feels most comfortable. But if you’re got an opinion, let us know.

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