From: Philippe Verdy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sat Jan 05 2008 - 20:46:44 CST
Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
> It is unfortunate that uppercase letters are used to label keys. It's
> illogical, since the key produces the lowercase form, in the normal
> state. And it causes problems like this. But it's probably either too
> late or too early to change such things.
It's not illogical on the keycaps: the uppercase letters are normally drawn
on the upper part of the key, the lowercase would be below it if it was
preferred not to draw them, in order to keep the keyboard readable.
If not convinced, look at the position of the euro symbol on a the E key of
a French or German keyboard: it is drawn in a lower position, and
consistently on the right side because it uses the right Alt (AltGr key).
So if you want to make some distinction and a lowercase letter should be
drawn, draw it at the correct position, but you don't need to draw also the
uppercase version. Just draw the letters that are needed to allow correct
distinction of keys (the capital will be implicitly composed by the Shift
I think that capital letters were chosen for the Basic letters because they
look larger and easier to identify. If lowercase letters were chosen, the
uppercase letters should not even be drawn, and the letters would be drawn
on the lower-left position on each key...
The correct placement of glyphs on keys is an important feature and visual
hint for users. Some really badly designed keyboards don't consider this
important, and draw centered letters on keycaps, when some other keycaps are
showing multiple different characters, and it's not immediately evident
which one is to compose with the shift key (or in Caps Lock mode). Such
placement is not always possible on very tiny keyboards (sub-notebooks,
handheld computers, mobile phones, mobile electronic agendas...)
But these keyboards are certainly not the best tool to compose texts with
the best correct typography, and the same devices will rarely have a display
capable of rendering it precisely with a good enough resolution, so
approximation of input and output is an acceptable(?) compromise on these
devices (the texts may be later edited and corrected on a more capable
computer after transfers).
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