Re: Hexadecimal in many scripts (ISO 14755)

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Sat Jun 05 1999 - 20:09:06 EDT

John Cowan posed a use case:

> >But consider the use cases:
> <typing along happily in Arabic>
> <need a U+2323>
> <switch to Latin keyboard>
> <enable magic Unicode mode>
> <type "2 3 2 3">
> <disable magic Unicode mode>
> <switch to Arabic keyboard>
> <try to recover train of thought>

and Peter Constable replied rhetorically:

> And just how many people are likely to remember what U+2323 is?

If such a scenario becomes common, and if UI designers are paying
attention to their users, switching keyboard input methods will
become easy and automatic. Consider the following use case:

> <typing along happily in Hiragana>
> <need a U+6B62>
> <switch to Han keyboard>
> <enable magic CJK input mode>
> <type "to ma" and pick U+6B62 from list>
> <disable magic CJK input mode mode>
> <switch to Hiragana keyboard>
> <keep typing along happily in Hiragana>

Hey, unless I am mistaken, some 10's of millions of Asian system users
already do this kind of stuff all the time, and consider it just more of the
typing. The key is how seamlessly the transition between input methods
can be done, and there is a lot of ergonomic and UI design that goes into
making this as transparent as possible to users.

Frankly, I consider most Americans and Europeans to be "input-challenged"
when it comes to thinking about how to make use of keyboards to quickly,
efficiently and transparently get the characters they want into text,
once the problem gets beyond the scope of adding a few accented Latin
letters with accent dead keys.

Also, to echo Peter's concern, entry via hexadecimal Unicode value
is always going to be a matter of very last resort. No one except
numerical freaks are going to remember more than a handful of the numbers
for input. (You think remembering the alt-keypad decimal numbers for Dos
and Windows is bad --just wait!) If you want to cast blame for what
interrupts a user's train of thought in entering text, it would be
in the memory recovery process, or more likely, opening and pawing through
the 1000-page standard looking up the number to enter, not in the
keyboard shortcuts or mouseclick needed to activate an alternative
keyboard and/or input method.


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