The story (aka, why they weren't there already)
One of the founding principles on which SketchTogether is based is that frequent mode-switching slows down design thinking when using a pen. In his previous researcher life, our founder Nick even wrote about it in a paper! That's why we always envisioned lasso selection as the primary mode switching tool. When free-hand drawing takes the lion's share of a sketch's content — which mostly happens when using touch-based devices, and especially with large electronic whiteboards — we thought it would be enough to cover most editing needs.
However, more and more users started working with SketchTogether on their desktops or laptops, bringing in more structured content such as text, shapes, and images. Having to circle around big boxes quickly becomes annoying, so we introduced the more desktop-oriented selection tool, and made it available on desktops via right-click when in drawing mode.
Once we started focusing more on devices that come with a hardware keyboard attached (which by the way is also my weapon of choice when using SketchTogether), we added panning mode, and we introduced double-click when in selector mode to insert text. Undo and redo were always accessible through Ctrl-Z / ⌘-Z, because it just felt cruel not to add those bindings for such a ubiquitous feature. ⇧-Enter to create a new text box when in text editing mode has also been available for a long time now, but it's always been more of an easter egg for people in the know.
We still remain attached to our original "no mode switching!" vision, but at this point, we're leaving that decision to the user and only highly recommend trying to use lasso selection as much as possible 🙂.
All tools on the left-hand panel are now associated with a keyboard shortcut 🎉.
Here's a handy summary:
|Shortcut||What it does||When|
|1||Enables drawing mode||No selection is active|
|2||Enables fading highlighter mode||No selection is active|
|3||Enables shape mode||No selection is active|
|4 or x||Enables eraser mode||No selection is active|
|5||Enables panning mode||No selection is active|
|6||Enables selector mode||No selection is active|
|Ctrl-z or ⌘-z||Triggers undo||Always|
Ctrl-⇧-z or ⌘-⇧-z
Ctrl-y or ⌘-y
|i||Enables image add mode||No selection is active|
|t or Space||Enables text add mode||No selection is active|
|c||Enables code text add mode||No selection is active|
|+||Zooms in||Not in text editing mode|
|-||Zooms out||Not in text editing mode|
|⇧-⏎||Creates a new text box below||In text editing mode|
|right-click and drag||Activates selection||In drawing mode|
|double left-click||Creates a new text box where clicked||In selector mode|
|⇧-left-drag||Locks straight line angle to multiples of 45°||In line add mode|
|⇧-left-drag||Draws circles||In ellipse add mode|
|⇧-left-drag||Draws squares||In rectangle add mode|
|⇧-left-drag||Locks current aspect ratio||A selection is active|
All shortcuts for tools are also displayed in the tooltips that you can activate by pressing on the bottom-right ? button (which is also accessible via the ? key).
Whenever you switch modes, the corresponding toolbar icon gets highlighted. Together with shortcuts, we've also introduced different cursor types for different modes:
- a crosshair for drawing, fading highlighter, and shapes
- the default arrow cursor for selector and eraser
- a hand cursor for panning
- a text edit cursor for text
Hope these new shortcuts will help making sketching in SketchTogether even more fluid!