Re: unicode values for keyboard keys?

From: Mark Leisher (
Date: Thu Jul 31 1997 - 11:56:47 EDT

>> X keysyms are OK if you don't mind the strings encoded in the host
>> portable character set (iso8859-1).

    Erik> I'm not sure what you mean by this.

>> For better coverage of keycap engravings, pick up the "xkeycaps"
>> program by Jamie Zawinski from Xkeycaps has keycap
>> engravings (and physical keyboard geometries as well) for approximately
>> 130 keyboards used with machines that run X11. Even those keycap
>> engravings are not complete, but it is a good starting point with much
>> broader coverage than the X keysyms.

    Erik> It is not possible for Xkeycaps to have "much broader coverage than
    Erik> the X keysyms" because it is not possible for Xkeycaps to represent
    Erik> a symbol for which no X keysym exists.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the original poster was thinking of
sets of symbols commonly used on keycaps (engravings), not some hardware
independent key identifier approach (keysyms). My apologies for not being
literal enough, but I assumed that this point was obvious. But, as we all
know, on the Internet, assumptions can kill :-)

X11 keysyms are not very useful for representing keyboards in documentation,
hardcopy or on-line. All the keysym strings are encoded in 8859-1 and I'm
sure the Japanese would be annoyed (I know I would be) if "Henkan" keys had to
be documented in Romaji all the time because of keysym string limitations. In
addition, it is really annoying to see keysym strings like "Multi_key"
inscribed on a keyboard representation as opposed to the actual engraving on
the keycap ("AltGraph" on my Sun).

XKeycaps goes a quite a ways to starting a catalog of symbols that are
actually used on physical keyboards; not complete, but an excellent beginning.

    Erik> Xkeycaps might know how to display several different renditions for
    Erik> a single logical symbol, but the underlying X keysyms _must_ be
    Erik> defined either in keysymdef.h or in the XKeysymDB.

Nat ürlich. But not the point.
Mark Leisher "A designer knows he has achieved perfection
Computing Research Lab not when there is nothing left to add, but
New Mexico State University when there is nothing left to take away."
Box 30001, Dept. 3CRL -- Antoine de Saint-Exup éry
Las Cruces, NM 88003

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