Knowledge Base and Forums/Livescribe Forums/Echo and Pulse Smartpens

User Petition To Bring Back The SDK... C'Mon...

Noran Sustina
posted this on February 21, 2012 08:15


     When I first saw the LiveScribe, I was pretty excited. It was finally the device I had been looking for. Finally a unique application where I could not just have a convenient note taking / audio recording system, but a tool where I could actually make and integrate changes that I found to be useful improvements.

     I'm not looking to sell 'apps,' I'm just looking to enable myself to work more effectively at my own pace, which may or may not involve me sharing the project with other LS users. I probably would, but didn't get an opportunity to do so before, as I got mine right before the SDK system was closed.

     People are interested when they see me using my LS to take meeting notes, teach kids how to do basic animation, and even just have handy PDF's available in my chickens cratch for the world to see immediately after a meeting. They all want to know what it is and where they can get one. I don't like that my answer has to be "I'm afraid I can't recommend this device, they closed the platform, and it's all downhill from here :/." Many of them, being software developers and business executives take that as a pretty sad response. After they are unable to swindle mine away from me (my Bamboo tablet is broken ATM), they do take my recommendation. And they usually say, "that's really too bad, it would be great if we could use this for... "

     Some of these people, are even people you have partnered with for external delivery channels. They know that if they can't get people like me to recommend this device, that they will not be able to really reach the a customer metric large enough to maintain support for you to deliver content to their platform. I still cannot see a valid reason for the decision to close the SDK.

     I'm not looking for App store placement, I'm not looking for a large amount of support from the devleoper team at LS (even though I know that they were the most perplexed by this decision). In fact, I really just want access to some basic hooks to be able to add a little more functionality to the device, without being locked into one of Adobe's primary platforms. Adobe may work in some environments, but not in the ones where I work, we maintain a fairly strict and solid Open Source policy because every time we go for a proprietary service lock in, we cannot get the quality of service that we need to maintain our infrastructure in a reasonable amount of time.

     You made a great physical product. While I'm not too much a fan of the OS X and Windows lock-in, I'm sure that your engineering team will find that they are better, cheaper and freer tools available to you with just a little more well thought out development. About the only software I can share with people is firewall rules to block your software from attempting to share notes with third parties with whom we happily compete with (and obviously have good friendships with).

     I've also dropped all my suppoort for the LS in educational environments, since the tools are designed more for the administration's convience then that of the students and teachers.

     Since you have been fairly hush-hush after the 'SDK has to go, sorry' notices, I can only assume that you are unable to contain the code to maintain reliability of your brand, or a new executive has a very misguided understanding of what open hardware, working with open software, can bring to the market. You can see how well Wacom, ATI/AMD, Intel and ZCorp have done by opening their systems. Your webserver is nginx, meaning that you yourself gain these benefits. What is the reluctance to continue to share them

     Once again, I don't ask for 'app' syndication. I'd like to be able to share a copy of my code with, let's say 10-50 people to help me work on a tool that I think is worthwhile. You're welcome to throw up a million disclaimers about my software being 'untrusted,' (altho the ability to sign my code with you as an authorized developer for all but the most software developer of installs would be welcome. If the tool does become useful, I'd be more then happy to let you review it, and consider promoting it on a fee for distribution basis (sometimes needed for good commercially distributed datasets).

     Much like I want to be able to write on my notepad plainly, I want to be able to write TO my pen plainly. Some of the apps I saw get into the store are certainly below my levels of taste, but some of them are totally amazing, and I"d love to expand on some of the innovation.

     I'd even go as far as to say that I'd be willing to drop access to all the proprietary software support on the device (removing Adobe restrictions) and working to build a separate desktop integration system. This does require some trust of your users, but we're trusting you with cash up front, and the protection of our note data. Given the recent actions and hearings in Congress, it seems like it would behoove you to minimize your liabilities, and just focus on making a great hardware tool, a locked down consumer level application, but opening the doors to professionals and third party integrators to make your product have even more diversity.

     I'd even be okay with a non-licensed device with decent documentation on how to bootstrap a whole new system. Your retail sales remain the same, and if anything, grow..

     You're welcome to email me to discuss the matter more. But I would certainly like to hear from some of the other users about how they feel. I know that, as before, the people at LS who read these forums do care. But the stagnation in the product I have seen since the closure of the SDK (trust me, Eclipse is my last choice for building cool technology), I don't see disappearing.

     So users who want their pens back, post a response of PM me. And I'd very much like to hear a some rational challenge to my thoughts either in public or privately.

     I really do like the device, and it am very very very regretful at how often I have to tell people to look for a competitor.



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Thank you for your note to us.  There is a lively discussion located here, about this topic.  As I mentioned in  that thread, I am using it to build a case for the reinstatement of the Developer program.

Thank you,


February 21, 2012 15:08
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Noran Sustina

Thanks Jeff! Your attention to the matter is appreciated. My feelings seem to be double and triple compounded there. To be perfectly honest, I really didn't like the way the SDK was setup previously. I'd love to be able to have a chance to make some commentary on the design of it when it inevitably does get added back :D

February 22, 2012 07:04
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Like many others, we want an SDK to code against for custom form-filling applications and data collection. I already own a LiveScribe pen and love it! This is a super product. We simply need access electronically to the pen to draw data out and work with it using our own code.

Come on Logitech! What's the big issue? Having an SDK just makes your product all the more market penetrating!

May 09, 2012 10:12
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I find what all has been said to be very true. I am a Transition Specialist at a local community college where I live and I find that the pen is a great piece of technology and would love to somehow find an appropriate way to integrate it with the students we help but do to the large restrictions with data management I have a hard time letting our students use the product. These pens were purchased originally for our students but I am increasingly finding that our staff finds more uses for them, either with meeting minutes or just note taking in general. Our students have to share these pens and it would be nice to find ways to send these notes and audio recordings from my Livescribe Desktop to them without having to share the account information. Also these pens are expensive and our students are generally low income (mostly the ones I deal with) so them buying their own pen is out of the options we consider.


June 07, 2012 08:43
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David Hempy


June 07, 2012 11:14
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Noran Sustina

Mel - In education or library markets where you are to be sharing pens, you'd want to make sure that each stored recording and note is encrypted with a key (either generated by the user or the administrative server). The reason being that flash drives are very hard to perfectly erase "for reals." Most free and open source terminal services will support this kind of thing, but you'd never really be able to protect the students with a proprietary solution.


As is, it looks like the LiveScribe, if it is to survive (unlike many of the other technologies that came before it), will have to go open software AND hardware. The current holder of the technology must realize this, if they actually care to see it succeed, or it will join the ranks of all the other pens like it in the past (and there have been many). The company can still make great gains off of educational / library markets by selling complete units as well as kits; to help supplement what they will loose in information harvesting for third-parties.

I don't think anyone who has been at the company for a long period of time, and doesn't see things heading that way soon; should probably cash out and take the money to fund open development. For the same reason I'd never use a sword to kill issued to me by the state, I won't be able to use my digital pen in a way that is creative nor educationally enriching. When what I write isn't my own, there's no value in wasting ink.

June 07, 2012 16:20
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John Holland

It appears like many others I was really impressed with the Livescribe concept, I wanted the pen to assist me with my work, I use a variety of forms to suit different circumstances. I purchased the text to table app which did what I wanted it to do, but I have to draw the forms for each project, sometimes this could be 10-20 pages. To produce this number of forms before a project is time consuming and not practical, so it doesn't happen.

The Livescribe pen for me was a waste of money, it needs the SDK to be made available for general use, or provide a tool to design forms, is this too much to ask?

I don't need the cloud, it serves no use for me as I have to first download from the pen to a computer. I don't do blogs.

I still think the idea behind the pen is great, but fail to understand why the company is so short sighted, tablets are improving almost daily, my ipad is not quite up to doing what I wanted the Livescribe to do but it is getting there. Like the original comments I too was not really interested in selling or even developing apps for otheres, but I did expect to be able to tailor the device for my needs.

I noticed there is very little movement in the range of apps offered in the store from when I first bought the pen.

July 12, 2012 13:54
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Noran Sustina
John, Your rationale is the same as my own, but a much more concise argument. Thanks for the input. I've seen variations of this technology for years, and like it's predecessors, is being strung along into a longer purchase agreement. I See it as something that's going to be absolutely ruined by cloudification, and my total speculative thought is that the company is waiting for a purchase by one of their note grabbing "partners" or the mobile OS leaders. I've seen companies like that fall far many times as well. If that indeed is the strategy, then I'll be looking forward to purchasing the IP on the auction market and putting it into public domain. As for the 'cloud'/'fog'/'smog,' you might be interested in the whitepapers.
July 13, 2012 00:47
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John Holland

If LS are waiting for someone to buy the company they are missing a trick, reading through this and other forums there is a lot of similar frustration by like minded people, we all like the pen for what we thought it was capable of. We might have different needs and uses for the pen but the company is severely limiting the potential of the pen, as said before I have virtually given up on the pen as I do not see any movement from LS, They appear to be burying their heads in the sand. In my case it would have been helpful if they had been completely honest in all their advertising, including the information they gave to retailers.

I was told I could print my own paper, including my own design forms. I also didn't know, and neither did the salesman that I needed a certain specification colour laser printer.

I could delete individual pages after I had downloaded them

Serves me right for not checking properly, if I had test driven the pen I certainly would not have bought it knowing what I know now, but still the annoying part is that the pen still has the potential to do what I wanted it to do and more.

I hope the management at LS review these forums or better still someone with the ability to hack into the pens and provide a service that the LS company isn't capable of doing.

July 13, 2012 08:56
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Alain Levesque

It just make sense and is a critical factor in the décision to adopt This product in large organisation.

July 18, 2012 03:51
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Maximilian Ibel

I second John Holland's comment. 


I bought the pen knowing this limitation and expect it to be somewhat useful nontheless. It is however frustrating knowing what the pen would be capable of and that it's not being able to reach its potential for (IMO) shortsighted business and political reasons.


I expect that unless something changes soon, a new breed of tables with a decent stylus will push LS pens onto the dust bin of history. Sad.


Good luck to LS - may you see the light.

August 24, 2012 12:05
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Mannipulo Birr

Good afternoon ...

I bought this pen believing in the promises of those running the company that manufactures.
Was promised news about supporting linux systems, were pledged support to the creation of our own notebooks.
This was all under water limited the potential of the pen so that every time that someone asks me about it and what it does, I say do not buy it and choose any of the competitors in the market which is much better served and will not feel cheated.

That's right the company Livescribe is managed by people with a lack of vision, deceive customers because it does not fulfill any of the claims made both for assistance in the forums, as the company's own vision.

150 EURO SPENT IN AN ECHO OF CRAP 2GB for having stopped only serves to check the time.

I do not use windows, windows never used, just use GNU / LINUX believed like most people who repeatedly have complained in the support forums and even take with their posts deleted, which would support this pen systems Gnu / Linux.

Who read this, do not buy, or they'll be sorry, just read the posts above to understand what the mentality of the company in relation to clients and who could give them a real boost, to create a real community, with ability to push this unit to the course that really deserve and do not have.

The saying .... God gives nuts to those who have no teeth ....

It is the epitaph that this company will have, created something that could lead the market with innovative and soluuções really ace blocks access tools to the community, thinking sadly that will gain more from it.

Just look at what's coming around, there are already projects pens with android, open to the community with access to sdk without any lock without obligation of the cloud's crap, poorly these projects are implemented, all these livescribe'se the other will be part of the past.

My money will no longer recover, so I can only hope that this project Livescribe sink it at once and in its place appears to understand someone with tomatoes and give what actually frequent this type of technology needs and requests.

I apologize for the long text and my bad English, but I could not help expressing desprezo for this type of companies that do not respect their customers.

Sink with the boat....

August 21, 2013 11:34
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Jason H

@Mannipulo - we've never promised to support Linux.  It's been a feature request from the beginning, but we've never stated we'd support it.  In regards to creating notebooks, you can create custom notebooks both in Livescribe Desktop and with the wifi / Evernote pen, but if that's not what you're looking I'm happy to pass on your detailed feature request to our product team.

When we discontinued the developer program, it was for the purpose of leveraging our cloud platform to enable integrations with other partners.  We just announced a partnership with TranscribeMe earlier this week, which highlights our focus further.  We will have more news like this in the near future.  We understand the decision to discontinue the developer program was not popular with many users, and for that we're sorry.  But we do want to stay relevant in a market where technology is rapidly advancing with the use of mobile devices and tablets, as was communicated in a letter from our CEO posted here:  

We simply do not have the means to make everyone happy when it comes to feature requests, but we are definitely working on key features that many have requested in the past, and you'll see announcements on these soon.

August 21, 2013 12:47