RE: Latin-script keyboard layout (was RE: Quick Question About Korean Input Methods)

From: Marc Durdin (
Date: Sun Jan 03 2010 - 17:33:50 CST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: Latin-script keyboard layout (was RE: Quick Question About Korean Input Methods)"

    Phillipe, read again what I wrote: other modifiers tend to cause conflicts. The only modifiers which are likely to be safe in pretty much any application are Shift and AltGr. Shift+AltGr is usually safe but is difficult to type. Any combination that involves Ctrl or Left Alt is pretty much guaranteed to cause conflicts with applications. And of course given the model that Windows uses with the TranslateAccelerator and TranslateMessage APIs, the overriding shortcut key takes precedence over the character output -- so if you use these other modifiers, in most applications some characters will be completely inaccessible.

    Deadkeys are not 'intuitive', just familiar (kinda like QWERTY or dare I say AZERTY). They are an old compromise from typewriters. When you write diacritics with a pen, do you write them before or after the base letter? When you press a deadkey (on a Windows system), you get no visual feedback. So the naive user then presses the deadkey again. And gets *two* non-combining forms of the character. There is nothing intuitive about that.

    Deadkeys are limited: they make some sense for combining diacritics. They make no sense for any other character. But even for combining diacritics they are not great. Typing the diacritic after the letter* makes much more sense. Things are even worse for multiple combining diacritics.

    * MSKLC note: typing diacritics after a letter makes much more sense but a MSKLC keyboard cannot normalise the input order for multiple diacritics or even generate NFC output when they are typed in that order. Hence my previous comment about it being a limited solution for a pan-Latin keyboard.

    Deadkeys and modifiers are very familiar to European and Latin American users. But there are much better ways of solving this input problem. Some Keyman keyboard developers have created some fantastic keyboards that are much more 'intuitive' and allow the user to access a far greater range of characters without resorting to clumsy modifier and/or deadkey combinations. A handful of 'Latin' script examples that solve these problems in different ways:
      BU Keyboard by Albert Bickford
      Dinka by Andrew Cunningham
      SIL IPA by Martin Hosken et al


    -----Original Message-----
    From: verdy_p []
    Sent: Monday, 4 January 2010 10:01 AM
    To: Marc Durdin; Doug Ewell; Unicode Mailing List
    Subject: re: Latin-script keyboard layout (was RE: Quick Question About Korean Input Methods)

    > Message du 03/01/10 22:17
    > De : "Marc Durdin"
    > A : "Doug Ewell" , "Unicode Mailing List"
    > Copie à :
    > Objet : Latin-script keyboard layout (was RE: Quick Question About Korean Input Methods)
    > Why point 4? That restricts your options considerably -- with MSKLC you can only implement your requirements with
    deadkeys and modifiers (shift states). Neither of these are great solutions. Deadkeys are unwieldy and definitely
    not intuitive, modifiers apart from Shift and AltGr tend to cause conflicts with applications.

    Huh??? Non intuitive for whom ? I use dead keys every day, so do most users in Canada, and most of Europe, or Latin
    America, they cause absolutely no problem and they are standard since almost always in those countries

    Anc which kind of "conflicts" with applications ?

    There's none! Unless you use an application that ONLY assumes a US basic keyboard.

    Windows, or MacOSX or Linux do not make such assumptions, only quirky applications that attempt to bypass the
    keyboard driver, mostly games in which the keyboard is not really used to type text but to type commands. Noteven
    text terminals have any problem with them.

    Some problems however occur in softwares that assign CTRL+ALT modifiers to non-text functions (such as global
    shortcuts), assuming they they are free, and that do not even check if the Alt key is NOT the left Alt KEY (really
    the AltGr key, which is needed for most European keyboards)

    Dead keys (and AltGr==Altr+Ctrl modifiers) are also used in US International keyboards. They are infinitely more
    friendly than modifier keys (EITHER "Ctrl" OR "RightAlt" OR "AltGr"=="LeftAlt"=="Ctrl+Alt", possibly combined with
    Shift or CapsLock), as this reduces a lot the number of keys to locate and learn, and they are much easier to type
    than multiple modifier keys, and many non intuitive assignments all around the keyboard to get the appropriate
    combinations of letter + diacritic, for which they are first used.

    Really, you're misinformed.

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