The Electronic Cocktail Napkin Project

The Electronic Cocktail Napkin Project

Authors (old page as appeared in Colorado 1994-1999)

* Mark and Ellen recently moved (September, 1999) from University of Colorado to University of Washington. Check out the Design Machine Group for exciting new projects!


Mark D. Gross

Design Machine Group
Department of Architecture
University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-5720

Ellen Yi-Luen Do

Design Machine Group
Department of Architecture
University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-5720

Project summary

The Electronic Cocktail Napkin is a pen based drawing environment written in Macintosh Common Lisp. It aims to support designing using hand drawn sketches and diagrams. We want to make it easy to make expressive drawings -- as easy as pencil and paper -- that can also be managed and interpreted by the program. We'd like to take advantage of designers' experience with the rich tradition of drawing and the directness of pencil and paper as well as the symbolic and numeric manipulations that computers make possible. In other words, we want to work with pencil and intelligent paper.

Our goals are:

(1) support designers making hand drawn diagrams and sketches,
(2) support the management of drawings (notebooks, search, tracing)
(3) support interpretation of drawings in context of the design domain

Electronic Cocktail Napkin Topics

Diagrams and Sketches in Design
Trainable Recognition
Parsing Diagrams
Things that Paper Does Well
Collaborative Design
The Sketchbook
Diagrams to Query Databases
Similarity of Diagrams
Pilot Studies

Napkin with Newton: Distributed Digital Sketchbooks

Napkin with knowledge based Systems: The Right Tool at the Right Time:

An architecture for knowledge based Design Environment Back of An Envelope:


A list of our relevant papers.


Funding from NSF grant DMII 93-13186 has been instrumental in building tools used in the Electronic Cocktail Napkin. A new funding from NSF grant IRI-9619856 is currently supporting Napkin's sister project called "The Back of an Envelope."

Comments? suggestions?

Please send to Mark or Ellen. Thank you!

Download Napkin Application

Currently we are moving and updating our web site so download option is not availabe now. Contact Mark or Ellen if you have questions. Thanks!