International keyboards

From: Alain LaBont\i - 1 (
Date: Sun Nov 02 1997 - 11:27:58 EST

>From: (Erland Sommarskog)
>Crossposted-To: comp.std.internat
>Subject: Latin-1 characters on keyboards
>Date: Sat, 01 Nov 1997 22:23:10 GMT
>Markus Kuhn <> skriver:
>>Keep in mind that U.S. users have a rather restricted keyboard with
>>only 7-bit ASCII characters, while PC owners in Europe have
>>separate keys for degree, micro sign, superscript 2 and 3,
>>pound sign, and accented characters for national language needs
>>etc. which U.S. programmers unfortunately forget quite frequently.

[Erland] :
>Ahum, that may be true of German PC keyboards, but my Swedish keyboard
>has few of the punctuation characters you talk of. The pound sign is
>there, but there's no degree sign, no micron and no superscript. The
>half sign(½) and the paragraph sign(§) is there, on the other hand,
>as well as the universal currency sign (¤) that no one uses. (But
>squeezes ¤ from shift-4 to Alt Gr-4.)
>Overall, PC keyboards are not in par with VT220 which permits you to
>compose any Latin-1 character if not with one keystroke, so at least
>a few with help of the compose key, saving you from having to learn
>the numeric codes. (Although of the VT220 sequences requires good
>co-ordination. For instance "ü", which is not available as a direct
>key on a Swedish VT220, is Compose - / - ^. And on a Swedish keyboard
>^ is unshifted, while / is shift-7. But when you're using it often
>enough, you get your finges programmed.)

[Alain] :
Don't forget ISO/IEC 9995-3, a keyboard that offers the full repertoire of
the basic Teletex character set repertoire (ISO/IEC 6937), usable with any
character coding. So far implementations exist at least in Canada (I use
such a keyboard since 1988), as CAN/CSA Z243.200 standard establishes the
ISO standard as its keyboard group 2. It is very simple to use, no acrobacies.

Actual implementations (from the most limited one to the most complete)
that I know of :

IBM 437 (PCs)
IBM 863 (PCs)
EBCDIC 037 (IBM 327X terminals and compatibles)
IBM 850 (PCs)
Macintosh character set (all Macs sold with French support in Canada)
Latin 1 (UNIX -- Sun, in particular, but not limited to this)
IBM (Microsoft) 1252 (Windows 3, Windows 95)
UNICODE (Windows NT)

The ISO/IEC 9995-3 (published in 1994) standard is intended to be used as a
complement of national layouts for countries limited to the Latin script
(remember that this is based on an old standard, standardised as ISO/IEC
8884 at the end of the 1980's; there are other requirements now that we
have UNICODE).

Also, nowadays, although it is *intended* to be poor-man's UCS (UNICODE)
input methods, but universally available, ISO/IEC 14755 standard (published
by ISO Central Secretariat in English and in French in 1997) offers
*standard methods* to enter all UCS characters with the help of any
keyboard (including American ones) and other devices. This standard is
intended to *complement* optimized national input methods and layouts to go
beyond the Latin script and beyond any writing system used nationally in
addition, and this, worldwide. This standard also offers the advantage that
it could be usable with UCS/UNICODE at some point for characters not yet
supported by a given font (therefore not selectable on the screen or even
with a given national keyboard layout or method) just because any actual
UNICODE implementation is a freezing of the UCS at one point, this
character being in constant, and incremental, development.

Alain LaBonté

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