Re: ISO 9995 terminology

From: Alain LaBont\i - SCT (
Date: Sat Sep 27 1997 - 10:55:02 EDT

A 14:29 97-09-27 +0200, Markus Kuhn a écrit :
>Alain LaBont'e SCT wrote:
>> It is recommended that level 3 of key E03 of national keyboard
>> layouts be used to harmonize the entry of this character
>> in different countries.

[Markus] :
>For those of us who have never seen a copy of the ISO 9995 standard
>and who due to a lack of money and nearby public standards libraries
>won't have a chance to see it in the near future:
>What does "level 3 of key E03" mean?

[Alain] :
Level 3 is a position on a key (of a computer keyboard) accessible by
depressing a "level 3 select" key (also known as AltGr on European-type or
Canadian-type keyboards). "Level 2 select" keys are the traditional "Shift"
keys, although the term "select" is deprecated as there is no longer any
physical shift of a mechanism (and there is also a problem in other
languages as well, and a problem with the "other shift", the "level 3 shift").

The grid of a keyboard is defined in ISO/IEC 9995-1. Row A is the row of
the SPACE BAR. Row E is the row where the digit 1 key in the alphanumeric
section of a keyboard (there is also a numeric section on many keyboards,
also called numeric keypad in English) is generally located on QWERTY,
QWERTZ and AZERTY keyboards.

Number coordinates go from left to right, the location of the number 1 in
the same alphanumeric section being the relative reference for coordinate
1. Coordinate 0 refers to the key to the left of the digit 1, if any. As in
general keys are arranged slanted from row to row, the same numbered key on
a lower row is in general slightly to the right of the row above (on
QWERTY, QWERTZ and AZERTY keyboards, the letter E is refered as D3).

[Markus] :
>Since ISO standards are highly unavailable to the common programmer,
>it might be very helpful for the community if you could summarize on a
>short Web page the most important aspects of ISO 9995 terminology, and
>how they relate to the common keyboard label terminology such as
>"Shift", "Ctrl", "Meta", "Alt", "AltGr", etc. Thanks!
>Dipl.-Inf. Markus Kuhn, Schlehenweg 9, D-91080 Uttenreuth, Germany
>mkuhn at,

[Alain] :
I should do this, yes... when I get some time (I do not say no).

In the meanwhile, these terms with their symbols are documented in ISO/IEC
9995-7. And Altavista is a good tool to get info on terms (you have to
compare different sources, though), although a specific web page would be a
good idea indeed.

In the series of ISO/IEC 9995, if you have a limited budget, the most
important parts for a programmer, imho, are part 3 (international keyboard
layout) and part 7 (symbols and description of functions with their names,
in English and French).

That said, I am personally all in favour of opening and promoting standards
and their terminology, and I apologize for lacking time these days to
accomplish your suggestion. It is not because of any bad will, believe me.
I'm not allowed to copy ISO standards (in particular as editor, I have
electronic texts, so that would be so easy), and adaptation has then to be
done to avoid a direct copy and be legal in terms of quotes, and that is
what takes time. Those who really want to make implementations at once
should buy the standard anyway, it's really worth it in this case.


Alain LaBonté

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