Dot to Dot, A Macintosh Braille Editor

Dot to Dot is a simple braille editor for the Macintosh. It is intended to be used by trained braille transcribers. It is freeware for anyone who works to help the blind and physically handicapped.

The most recent "final" version is 0.8. Version 0.9d12 is "under development", but it hasn't changed much lately and is also pretty stable.

For OS X: There is now a version of Dot to Dot that runs under OS X without using Classic. It's rough and buggy, but it's usable. (Be sure to read the included "Read Me.txt" file.) I call it Version 1.0d2 (Carbon) (It comes as a disk image. 440K).

For OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard): Apple changed the way documents are associated with their applications. As a result, Dot to Dot files aren't automatically opened by Dot to Dot when you double-click on them. As a stop-gap, I have included an AppleScript you can use to tell the system to open a file with Dot to Dot from now on. See the "Read Me" file on the disc image.

For OS 10.7 (Lion) and later: Dot to Dot will no longer run at all, because Apple no longer supports PowerPC applications. Worse, the tools I used to write Dot to Dot no longer run either. That means that Dot to Dot needs a complete rewrite, from scratch, and I'm just not finding the time. I'm very sorry for letting you all down. If someone else would like to undertake the rewrite, I'd be happy to help in any way I can.

Please direct any feedback to the programmer, James Jennings (djeimz AT



  1. A keyboard that can "see" six key-downs at once.
  2. System 7 or better.
  3. Color QuickDraw.
  4. The "Times" TrueType font. (Comes with the system software.)

To find out if your keyboard can see six key-downs at once, open the Key Caps desk accessory and hold down the A, S, D, L, semicolon, and quote keys simultaneously. If all six keys are hilighted in Key Caps, you're in!

If this test fails, or if the six keys are not in a convenient arrangment on your keyboard, you can hunt around for a set of six keys that works for you. If you can find one (and for some keyboards you won't find one) you can customize Dot to Dot with ResEdit. Version 0.9 of Dot to Dot has a choice of several built-in key sets in it's preferences.

The System 7 and Color QuickDraw requirements are a result of programming tools used to write Dot to Dot. It has been mostly tested on a Quadra 840av and a PowerMac 8500 under System 7.5.x. I have not tried to see how it fails, if at all, on other configurations. If you have any problems of any kind under any other configurations, please let me know.


Dot to Dot uses the same character set as the embossers that I'm familier with. I believe that all embossers use the same character mapping, but if yours is different, you will need a customized version of Dot to Dot.

Dot to Dot produces text files that cannot be longer than 30K, or about 30 braille pages. (Fixed in version 0.9 and later.)

Although Dot to Dot (version 0.8 and later) can drive a braille embosser connected directly to the Macintosh, I don't know if I have anticipated all the problems it might have with all embossers. See the printing section of the manual.

Although Dot to Dot can open any small text file, this is not a good idea. The braille character set is small, and many ordinarily printable characters cannot be displayed by Dot to Dot.

Dot to Dot has some debugging code in it. If you should ever get a dialog box that says "Signal Raised", please write to me and tell me exactly what the dialog says and what you did to cause it. It's especially nice if you can reliably reproduce it.

Typical Usage

Dot to Dot was originally written for a volunteer braille transcriber at WTBBL (the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, a branch of the Seattle Public Library system.) Some of the design goals of Dot to Dot come from this environment, so it might help you to understand the evolution of a typical Dot to Dot document written for WTBBL.

  1. The assigned document is brailled on a Macintosh.
  2. "Simulated braille" for proofreading is printed out on a LaserWriter. (Other printers should work too.)
  3. Corrections from proofreading are then made on the Mac.
  4. Final versions of the files are converted from Macintosh ASCII text files to PC ASCII text files with a freeware utility called CRLF. (There are lots of similar utilities that can do this.)
  5. The converted files are then copied to a PC disk. (Macintosh System 7.5 makes this step trivial.)
  6. The disk is taken to WTBBL where the files are "printed" on a braille embosser. (Which happens to be connected to an elderly PC compatible.)


Dot to Dot is copyright © 1996-2001 by James Jennings. All rights reserved. Dot to Dot uses the Mercutio MDEF from Digital Alchemy, Copyright © Ramon M. Felciano 1992-1998, All Rights Reserved. Dot to Dot (version 0.9 and later) uses the WASTE text engine v1.3 © 1993-1998 by Marco Piovanelli.

Dot to Dot is freeware for individuals who work to help the blind and physically handicapped.


I am happy to receive bug reports (and answer any other questions) by e-mail. I am ecstatic if you can tell me how to reliably reproduce a bug. :-)

I have designed Dot to Dot so that the six "braille keys" can be customized with ResEdit. If you have any trouble with the customization instructions, feel free to contact me.

It is also possible to change the character set to match a different font and embosser. If you think this is necessary, let me know.

Known Bugs

Dot to Dot v0.8 can crash when it opens a non-Dot to Dot text file if that file has no resource fork. If you have this problem you can open the file with something else and then copy and paste the braille into a new Dot to Dot document. (Fixed in version 0.9.)

When off-screen selected text scrolls into view the end-of-paragraph marks are highlighted incorrectly. (Fixed in version 0.9.)

The centering command doesn't handle blank lines correctly.


Can Dot to Dot automatically translate ordinary text into braille?

No. Computerized braille translation is very difficult to do right. There is software available that can automatically translate English text into Grade 2 braille, but it is expensive and not completely accurate.

Why doesn't Dot to Dot automatically wrap the text?

Grade 2 braille should be hyphenated wherever possible. Since where the braille is hyphenated affects the other features of the braille translation, it cannot be easily automated. Therefore, the braille cannot be wrapped automatically. I prefer to think of it as "giving the user complete control over line breaks."

I have added a "poor man's word wrap" to version 0.9 for those who don't need to hyphenate. To do word wrap right, handling headers and page numbers for example, is a major piece of work, so don't hold your breath.

Will there be a Windows(tm) version of Dot to Dot?

No. There already exists brailler software for PC compatibles. I wrote Dot to Dot because I wasn't satisfied with the selection of Macintosh-based braillers. Besides, I have neither the tools nor the expertise for Windows(tm) development.

Will there be a Mac OS X(tm) version of Dot to Dot?

Probably, but it's not yet particulary high on my list of things to do. The current version should work in "classic" mode (except for the "Emboss" feature), but I haven't really tested it.


Many thanks to:

and, of course, any others that I forgot to mention.

James Jennings <djeimz AT>

Last modified August 2, 2012.

[Made with Macintosh]