From: Michael Everson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Jan 04 2010 - 04:34:58 CST
On 4 Jan 2010, at 00:44, Asmus Freytag wrote:
> On the contrary. The lack of visual input is a definite drawback in
> designing keyboard input for rarely used characters and by less than
> expert touch typists. Whether the comparison between using a pen or
> using a keyboard is salient or not, the fact remains that hidden
> states in user interfaces are suboptimal.
That is a fault of the Windows interface, then; the Mac OS *does* give
visual indication when a dead-key state has been invoked. (For
example, the grave state is indicated by displaying the grave accent
in a yellow field until the following letter is pressed.)
>>> Deadkeys are limited: they make some sense for combining
>>> diacritics. They make no sense for any other character.
>> This is completely untrue.
> As that is a matter of opinion, "truth" doesn't enter.
Asmus, you didn't take Marc to task for *his* unsupported assertion. I
refuted his assertion that deadkeys "make no sense for any other
character" by giving *specific* examples of "specials" and "hooked"
characters which are not "diacritics" but which are *sensibly* invoked
using a deadkey solution. That was, therefore a refutation of Marc's
unsupported assertion. Not just a gainsaying of his opinion.
>> I made use of a variety of non-diacritic deadkeys in the Irish
>> keyboard I designed: A key I call "specials" allows me to access
>> ƣƿǝʀθȝʊɪɸ (qwertyuip) and əſẟɡɣƕƞĸɬ (asdfghjkl)
>> and ʒχɔʌβŋɯ (zxcvbnm). I use a number of these very
>> frequently in medievalist and linguistic work. Another Key I call
>> hooks is there for pseudo-diacritics: ʠỽꜥʈƭƴʋɩi҆ƥ
>> (qwertyuiop) ꜣʃɗƒɠɦƙ (asdfghk) ȥɖƈɓɲ (zxcbn). And with
>> these two keys and alt I can access even more.
>> ɑʍɹꞃꞇʏᵿᵻɤɸ ɐꞅꝺꝼᵹʰʲ№˚ꞁ ɒᵈˠᵇꝿ.
>> This is useful, mnemonic, and a great use of keyboard technology.
Here is where you might have admitted that I had given an example of
what I was talking about.
> The more you use these for things other than a few well understood
> diacritics, the more the lack of user feedback is a liability of the
I don't have the problem of a lack of user feedback.
> A good user-interface lets naive users discover (and recover from)
> the results of striking a novel key combination.
Yes, a good user-interface does do this. I'm using a good user
interface. It also supplies a Keyboard Viewer which the user can
experiment with to learn keyboard assignments.
> For someone intimately familiar with the design of such a layout
> (the designer) such drawbacks may not amount to flaws. The casual
> user is better served by some other form of input technology that
> allows the gradual transition from visually presented choices to
> keyboard shortcuts as the technique is mastered (or for the subset
> of most frequently used "special" characters.
I disagree. "Some casual users" may be so served. Other "casual users"
might be naïve Medievalists or Copticists, who have not been *used* to
typing their characters easily -- but who are always (in my anecdotal
experience as a provider of keyboard layouts for them) well able to
learn how to use the input methods.
>>> 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.
>> Just an assertion.
> As is your implied counter assertion.
I don't think the two assertions were the same; mine came with
illustrative examples. Software for Inuktitut users also makes use of
>> And yes, my keyboard does allow me to type multiple diacritics
>> after letters, where necessary. But deadkeys are much more
>> convenient for general typing (which I do regularly in a number of
> Since we all know how far into the tail you are on any bell curve,
> your assertions about what suits you does not necessarily hold for
> any more average users. :)
I learned the principles from Apple inputting software which was not
designed for *me*, but rather for "the casual user". The Mac OS has
been using this mechanism since the beginning. Well, at least since
Mac OS 6; I'd have to run an emulator to see what was on offer prior
to that, because it's been a long time.
Keyboards using this design work well, and are widely implemented. I
think it is wrong for Marc to dismiss them as he has done. (I have
used his software, by the way, for development on the Linux platform,
and will continue to use it. And I am happy it supports deadkeys.)
Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
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